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ant, the troops kept constantly under arms must, at least, equal one-half of the hostile expedition, while as many more, ready for instant service, must be within call. These points are so immediately accessible in some cases, and so remote from succor in others, that, after the point of attack is announced by the appearance of the enemy before it, there will be no time for reinforcements to come from the interior.
By manœuvring in front of any of these places the enemy would induce us to concentrate forces there; when, suddenly profiting of a favorable breeze, he would sail to another, which he would reach in a few hours, and would not fail to seize if a force were not stationed there likewise, at least, equal to his own. No reinforcement can, in this case, arrive from the interior in time, for all the troops under march would have taken up a direction upon the point he has just quitted.
Our whole coast from Maine to Louisiana would thus be kept in alarm by a single expedition; and such is the extent and exposure of the seaboard that an enemy might ruin us by a war of mere threatenings. If the cities and other great establishments are not garrisoned, they will become a prey at once; and if they are garrisoned, the treasury will be gradually emptied; the credit of the government exhausted; the weary and starving militia will desert to their homes ; nor will it be easy to avert the consummation of tribute, pillage, and conflagration.
The table E, joined to this report, shows that, to be in readiness on each of these vulnerable points, it will be requisite to maintain 107,000 men encamped and under arms at the ten places mentioned, and 93,000 men ready to march and within call.
This number is, in fact, below that which would be required; for these points being, according to our hypothesis, exposed to an attack from 20,000 regular and disciplined troops, 20,000 militia would not be able to repel them, unless aided by entrenchments, requiring a time to construct them which might not be allowed, and involving expenses which are not included in the estimate. Besides, to have 20,000 men, especially new levies, under arms, it will be necessary, considering the epidemics that always assail such troops, to carry the formation of these corps to at least 25,000 men.
The State of Louisiana, being remote from succor, requires a larger force under arms than the other points ; this force is fixed at 17,000, supposing that the State may supply 3,000 within call.
All expenses being reckoned, 1,000 regular troops, including officers, cost $300,000 per annum, or $150 per man, for a campaign of six months. 1,000 militia, including officers, cost $400,000 per annum, or $200 per man, for a six months' campaign. But, taking into consideration the diseases which invariably attack men unaccustomed to military life, and the consequent expense of hospital establishments; the frequent movement of detachments from the camp to their homes, and from the interior to the camp; and the cost of camping furniture, utensils, accoutrements, &c., which is the same for a short campaign as for a year; regarding all these things, the cost of militiamen cannot be reckoned at less than $250 per man for six months.
The 107,000 militiamen necessary to guard the above-mentioned points, the maritime frontier being without defence, will therefore cost, in a campaign of six months, $26,750,000. In strict justice, there should be added to this expense, which is believed to be much understated, amongst other things, the loss of time and the diminution of valuable products resulting from drawing off so ennsiderable a portion of efficient labor from its most profitable pursuits. This, besides being a heavy tax on individuals, is a real loss to the nation.
It would be utterly vain to attempt an estimate of the loss to the nation from the dreadful mortality which rages in the camps of men suddenly exposed to the fatigues and privations of a military life.
The total expense of constructing the fortifications at the ten places before mentioned will amount to $21,767,656.—(See table E.)
The garrisons of these fortifications may consist of the same number of regular troops in time of war as in time of peace, the remainder being furnished by the militia held in readiness to throw themselves into the forts on the first appearance of an enemy. By this arrangement 3,010 regulars and 32,076 militia, either within the works or in small corps on advantageous positions, making in all 35,086 men, would suffice, 64,914 men being kept in readiness to march when called upon.
We should, therefore, have only 35,086 to pay and support instead of 107,000, and the expense would be $8,430,500 instead of $26,750,000. The difference, namely, $18,319,500, being only $3,448,156 less than the whole cost of these defences. It follows that the expense of their erection would be nearly compensated by the saving they would cause in a single campaign of six months.
It is proper to add that, although the expense of these works will be great, that expense is never to be renewed; while with troops, on the contrary, the expense is annually repeated, if not increased, until the end of the war. Besides, the disbursements for fortifications are made in time of peace, slowly and to an extent exactly correspondent with the financial resources of the country. Armies are most wanted, and must be paid, in periods of the greatest emergency, when the ordinary sources of revenue are dried up, and when the treasury can only be supplied by a resort to means the most burdensome and disagreeable to the people.
The defence of the maritime frontier by permanent fortifications, and the disbursements for their construction, will thus tend to a real and positive economy.
The vulnerable points being reduced to a small number, instead of waiting an attack on every point, and holding ourselves everywhere in readiness to repel it, we shall force an enemy to direct his assaults against those few which, being well understood by us, will, of course, have received timely preparation. There can be no doubt that such a state of things will make an adversary more reluctant to risk his expeditions, and, therefore, that we shall not only be better able to resist, but also less frequently called on to do so.
Some prominent military writers have opposed the principle of fortifying an extensive land frontier, but none have ever disputed the necessity of fortifying a maritime border ; the practice of every nation, ancient and modern, has been the same in this respect. On a land frontier a good, experienced, and numerous infantry may, in some cases, dispense with fortifications; but though disciplined troops may cover a frontier without the aid of fortifications, undisciplined troops cannot. On a maritime frontir, however, no description of troops can supply the place of strong batteries disposed upon the vulnerable points. The uncertainty of the point on which an enemy may direct his attack, the suddenness with which he may reach it, and the powerful masses which he can concentrate at a distance out of our reach and knowledge, or suddenly, and at the very moment of attack require that every important post be prepared to repel bis attempt, or retard it until reinforcements can arrive and adequate means of resistance be organized. By land we are acquainted with the motions of an enemy; but the ocean is a vast plain, without obstacle, where his movements are made out of our sight, where no trace is left of his path, and where we know nothing of his approach until he is within reach of the eye. In a word, unless the vulnerable points of a seaboard are covered by fortifications their only chance of safety must depend upon the issue of a battle, always uncertain, even when the best disciplined, most experienced, and best appointed troops have made all possible preparation for the combat.
As for the garrisons which these forts will require in time of war, a small portion, about equal in number to the peace garrisons, should be of regular troops, the remainder of militia, practiced in the manæuvres and drill of great guns, it being indispensable that the greatest part of the troops required for the defence and service of the sea-coast fortifications should be of artillery.
This brings us to a suggestion or two in relation to the organization of the militia forces. Instead of the present small proportion of artillery allowed in the militia organization, the States might, with great advantage, increase the proportion of that force in the vicinity of each of the exposed parts of the coast, so as to be equivalent to the exigencies and armament of the works, substituting for the usual field exercises as infantry actual drill and practice in the batteries. The number of militia artillery in each case would be determined by the number of guns applied to the defence of that particular place. As soon as a movement on the part of the enemy should threaten the frontier of the State this force should throw itself into the forts, and there remain so long as the precise point of attack should be undetermined. In most parts of the seaboard it would be advisable to have also a considerable body of militia horse artillery, as being a very useful arm in all cases, and as affording a defence always applicable against minor and predatory enterprises. This force might, in part, be drawn from the ordinary proportion of cavalry.
If with our general system of permanent fortifications and naval establishments we connect a system of interior communication by land and water, adapted both to the defence and to the commercial relations of the country; if to these we add a well constituted regular army, and a militia perfect in its organization, the nation will not only secure its territory from invasion and insult, but will preserve its institutions from those violent shocks and revolutions which have so frequently, in every age and in every country, been incident to a state of war.
Tables A, B, C, and D, following, contain the works constituting the proposed defensive system for the maritime frontier, arranged in four classes.
Table E exhibits a comparison of the cost of defending certain important parts of the coast without fortifications, and with the aid of the projected works.
Table F shows a possible concentration of militia force in eleven days at Boston, Newport, R. I., New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Norfolk, Charleston, S. C., Savannah, Georgia, and New Orleans.
Not having been the subject of particular care and study, it is with diffidence that a few words are thrown out on the subject of the defence of the frontier which separates the United States from the English possessions.
The first questions that arise are these: Is the political condition of the country lying on the other side of the country in question, viz: the condition of colonies of a trans-Atlantic power to remain altered? Or are these colonies to become independent nations? Or is any other important change to be wrought in their political relations? These questions bear directly upon the matter in hand. A generation hence and there may be no more room for jealousy and watchfulness along that line than there now is along the imaginary lines which separate our contiguous States. Within the same period the Canadas may have assumed the attitude of independent and separate States; and, although the United States may recognize in these northern neighbors a youth of much promise and vigor, the period when the relative increase shall have been such as to make their proximity a source of much precaution and solicitude will not, probably, be near at hand. But though it may be possible that the colonial relations may be thrown off within the period for which it is our duty now to provide; and although in any other relation the United States might rely for security, at any moment, on the greater power which she might at any moment develop, can it be distinctly foreseen that the existing political connexion is to be soon dissolved? If not—if there be uncertainty on this point, does it become the duty of the United States to proceed at once to the task of securing herself on this frontier, regarding it as separating her from one of the most powerful empires of the earth? Or, finally, may she wait and watch, relying on her sagacity to give due notice of impending danger, and on her resources to supply her, in time, with appropriate armor? If it be, indeed, possible to apply, within a brief state of time, all the defences that can be needed on this frontier, the course last suggested would appear to be the best. What, therefore, is like to be the nature of the danger, and what the nature of the defence ?
Along the St. Croix river only local establishments could require to be corered, as there are no objects of consequence to be reached by an enemy penetrating our interior from that border." Then comes the disputed territory and the great unsettled regions along the northern margins of New Hampshire and Vermont.
Upon all this extent of frontier the exact location of future establishments, of consequence, cannot be foreseen with the certainty warranting their being now provided for by permanent defensive works. This region is to become populous and wealthy; the natural means of communication are to be improved, and numerous artificial means of communication are to be opened by roads, canals, and railways; but while this growth in wealth may invite aggression, the growth in numbers, and the increased facilities of intercommunication, the increased power of rendering mutual succor, and of drawing aid from the interior, would, in a still greater degree, make aggression difficult and improper.
Lake Champlain penetrates the territory in such a way that an enemy, having the naval mastery, might make a deep inroad and greatly harass the country along the shores, although no enterprise, even in the present state of population, could be carried far into the interior. Were it only to relieve a long line of frontier from predatory incursions, access to this lake from the north should be denied. But there are other very strong reasons for this exclusion. By closing the lake at its northern extremity an expensive and uncertain strife for naval superiority on this lake would be avoided, and the whole lake would remain in our possession, serving as the best possible military line of communication in case the United States should assume offensive operations against the weakest point of the Canadian frontier.
From the northern end of this lake the forces of the United States should march into Canada and intercept the communication by the St. Lawrence, either at or near the mouth of the Richelieu river, as Montreal island, at some point where the ship channel of the river could be commanded, intermediate between these places, or at any two or at all these places, according to circumstances. Maintaining any or all these positions would limit the defence in the province above to the consumption of the means then in store, and would completely paralyze its offensive power. Although no other object were in view than the defence of the frontier upon the upper lakes, no effort necessary to secure and maintain this position should be spared, because it is only thus that the contest for naval superiority on the lakes, which, if once suffered to begin, is both exhausting and interminable, can be avoided.
Without aid from abroad, Canada cannot contest such a question with the United States; and, so long as the United States possess that superiority, the defence of the upper portion of the frontier will be complete.
From being the most expensive of all modes of defence, naval superiority in our hands may thus become the cheapest: two or three small armed vessels on each lake, employed as convoys to the ordinary navigation, and to the transports bearing troops and munitions, being all that would be needed.
Military enterprises would, in this way, be warded off from the numerous rich and populous cities and towns now embellishing our border, which it would not be easy to protect from the calamities of war by mere military works, without running into great expense, were the enemy's naval means to allow his approaching them at his pleasure.
In the case of the offensive movement supposed above, the fortified position of Isle Aux Moix, and any other upon the Richelieu, should be at first left in rear, being reached or mastered by suitable bodies of troops, and should be subjected to immediate investment and vigorous attack, so as to be speedily reduced, and to open the navigable water communication within twenty miles of Montreal.
If the preceding remarks be well founded, it would appear that the peace and safety of the parts of the frontier extending along the river St. Lawrence, Lakes Ontario, Erie, Huron, and Superior, might be made to flow from military operations carried on against Canada, by the line of Lake Champlain and the river Richelieu; and in order to this military operation being always practical, and to be taken up at pleasure, nothing more is necessary than the fortification of the outlet of Lake Champlain. It might have been before remarked that the offensive movement in question is not deemed to be difficult or hazardous, nor would it be necessarily restricted to holding positions on the St. Lawrence; active operations against Quebec, to which this is the most convenient road, following as a matter of course upon these first successes.
The security, therefore, that may be obtained for the upper frontier by military operations on the lower, may at least justify these upper portions in waiting the progress of events.
The unexampled increase of population upon these very borders, the hundred new ways already finished or in hand, of connecting these borders with the heart of the country, may so elevate the military resources of the region that, in the event of war, it will matter little in which of the political conditions first supposed the opposite territory may be found-a resistless torrent sweeping it from end to end ; and, although it might not be prudent to rely in such a matter on the mere spread of wealth and numbers, we may be certain that there will exist ample resources to create all such artificial military aids as the circumstances may call for, and we may infer that the application of these aids would now be premature.
The military consequences of the occupation of the outlet of Lake Champlain are so obvious that it must not be supposed they are not perfectly understood by our neighbor across the border. As it would consequently be a great object with him to avert the consequences alluded to, he would, in the event of war, (often breaking out suddenly,) be first, it possible, in taking such a position as would prevent our commanding the issue of the lake ; and hence it is that, in the preparation of the only permanent military work now recommended for the northern frontier, it seems advisable to admit no unnecessary delay.
A position for closing the lake, selected during the last war, and of which the fortification was begun soon after the peace, was found, after some progress had been made, not to lie within our territory, and was abandoned. There is, however, a position equally good close at hand, and in all respects admirably adapted to the object in view.
The fortification of this outlet will probably cost about $600,000.