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about 500 miles; while a straight line from one of the above-mentioned capes to the other is hardly half that distance. The eastern half is singularly indented by deep bays; the coast being universally rocky and possessing numerous islands surrounded by deep water, which islands not only increase the number of harbors, but cover, besides, an interior navigation well understood by the hardy coasters and measurably secured by its intricacies, and the other dangers of this boisterous and foggy region, from interruption by an enemy. The western half is much less broken; it is covered by few islands in comparison, but contains several excellent harbors.
The eastern harbors of Maine are exposed in a peculiar manner. They are not only on the flank of our line, but they are also quite near the public establishments of the greatest maritime power. They are, moreover, as yet backed by only a thin population; and are, consequently, weak as well as exposed. The time may not, however, be very distant when, becoming wealthy and populous, they will be objects of a full portion of the national solicitude. Works designed for these harbors must therefore be calculated for the future; must be founded on the principle that they must defend places much more important than any now existing there; that, being near the possessions of a foreign power, they will be in a particular manner liable to sudden and repeated attacks; and that, lying at the extremity of the coast, they are liable to be tardily succored. The works must consequently be competent to resist escalade, and to hold out for a few days. Feebler works might be more injurious than beneficial; their weakness would in the first place invite attack; and it being often a great advantage to occupy fortified places in an adversary's territory, the enemy could prepare himself to remedy the deficiencies of the forts after they should fall into his liands, by adding temporary works, by providing strong garrisons, and by aiding the defence with his vessels.
No surveys have been made of these harbors, and no plans formed for their defence. It may be well to observe here, once for all, that much confidence is not asked for the mere conjectures presented below, as to the number and cost of the works assigned for the protection of the harbors which have not yet been surveyed: in some cases there may be mistakes as to the number of forts and batteries needed; in others, errors will exist in the estimated cost.
Eastport and Machias may be mentioned as places that will unquestionably be thought to need defensive works by the time, in the order of relative importance, the execution of them can be undertaken by the government. There are several small towns eastward of Mount Desert island that may, at that period, deserve equal attention; at present, however, the places mentioned will be the only ones estimated for; and $100,000 will be assumed as the cost at each.(Statement 1, table F.)
Mount Desert island, situated a little east of Penobscot bay, having a capacious and close harbor, affording anchorage for the highest class of vessels, and easily accessible from sea, offers a station for the navy of an enemy superior to any other on this part of the coast. From this point ħis cruisers might act with great effect against the navigation of the eastern coast, especially that of Maine; and his enterprises could be conducted with great rapidity against any points he might select. These considerations, added to the very great advantage in certain political events, of our occupying a naval station thus advanced, whence we might act offensively, together with the expediency of providing places of succor on a part of the coast where vessels are so frequently perplexed in their navigation by the prevailing fogs, lead to the conclusion that the fortification, in a strong manner, of this roadstead may before long be necessary. A survey of this island was begun many years ago; but the party being called off to other duties it was never completed. The project of defensive works has not been
H. Rep. Com. 8—12
made. The entire cost may be, as assumed by the engineer department some years ago, $500,000.-(Statement 1, table F.)
Castine. It would seem to be impossible, on this coast, to deprive an enemy enjoying naval superiority of harbors, or prevent his using them as stations during a war—insular situations, which his vessels would render unapproachable, being so numerous; but it seems proper that such of these positions as are the sites of towns should be secured. During the last war the English held the position of Castine for some time, and left it at their pleasure. It is probable a work costing about $50,000 would deter an enemy from again making choice of this position.-Statement 1, table F.)
Penobscot bay. Upon this bay, and upon the river of the same name flowing into it, are several flourishing towns and villages. Of the many bays which intersect the coast the Penobscot is the one which presents the greatest number of safe and capacious anchorages. As before observed a large portion of these harbors must, for the present, be left without defences, but the valuable commerce of the bay and river must be covered; and to afford a secure retreat for such vessels as may be unable to place themselves under the protection of the works to the east or west of the bay, the passage of the river must be defended. The lowest point at which this can be done without great expense is opposite Bucksport at the "narrows." A project has been given in for a fort at that position estimated at $150,000.-(Statement 1, table D.)
St. George's bay, Broad bay, Damariscotta, and Sheepscut.-West of the Penobscot occur the above-mentioned bays, all being deep indentations leading to towns, villages, and various establishments of industry, and enterprise. The bays have not been surveyed, and of course no plans have been formed for their defence. $400,000 are assigned to the defence of these waters. The Sheepscut is an excellent harbor of refuge for vessels of every size.—(Statement 1, table F.)
Kennebeck rirer.-This river (one of the largest in the eastern States) enters the sea nearly midway between Cape Cod and the mouth of the St. Croix. It rises near the source of the Chaudiere, which is a tributary of the St. Lowrence, and has once served as a line of operations against Quebec. The situation and extent of this river, the value of its products, and the active commerce of several very flourishing towns upon its banks, together with the excellence of the harbor within its mouth, will not permit its defence to be neglected. The surveys begun many years ago were never finished. The estimated cost of defences, as formerly reported by the engineer department, was $300,000. Positions near the mouth will permit a secure defence.—(Statement 1, table D.)
Portland harbor.-The protection of the town, of the merchantmen belong. ing to it, and of the ships-of-war that may be stationed in this harbor to watch over this part of the coast, or that may enter for shelter, (all of them important objects,) may be secured, as an inspection of the map of the harbor will show, by occupying Fort Preble Point, House island, Hog Island ledge, and Fish Point.
If the two channels to the west and east of Hog island can be obstructed at small expense (to decide which some surveys are yet necessary) there will be no necessity for a battery on the ledge, and Fish Point need be occupied only by such works as may be thrown up in time of war. The expense, as now estimated, of the works planned for this defence, will be $155,000 for Fort Preble, and $48,000 for House island; for Hog Island channel say, $135,000.(Statement 1, tables A, D, E, and F.) In addition there must be repairs irnmediately applied to the old works at an expense of $6,600.
Saco, Kennebunk and York.-Small works comparatively will cover these places; $75,000 is assumed as the aggregrate cost.—(Statement 1, table F.)
Portsmouth harbor and navy yard.—The only good roadstead or harbor between Cape Elizabeth and Cape Ann is Portsmouth harbor, within the mouth of Piscataqua river. Line-of-battle ships can ascend as high as Fox Point, seven miles above the town. This situation, sufficiently commodious for a secondary naval depot designed to repair vessels of war, should be maintained; but it is to be regretted that the bay to the south of Fox Point was not chosen as the site of the navy yard instead of Fernald's island. Being where it is, it will be necessary, in time of war, to make some particular dispositions for the protection of the navy yard from an attack from the north shore of the river.
The position of Fort Constitution will certainly, and that of Fort McCleary will probably, be occupied by the defences, though the works themselves should give place to those that will better fulfil the object. The other positions for forts or batteries are Gerrishe's Point, Fishing island, and Clark's island, some, if not all, of which must be occupied. Surveys are required before the projects can be formed, or before estimates can be made; but there is reason for believing that the entire cost of fortifying this harbor will not fall short of $300,000.(Statement 1, table D.)
Newburyport harbor.—The points forming the mouth of the harbor are continually changing, and it seems necessary, therefore, to rely, for the defence of the harbor, on works to be thrown up during a war. There is only a shoal draught of water. It is thought $100,000 will defend this harbor adequately.(Statement 1, table F.)
Gloucester harbor.–The position of this harbor, near the extremity of Cape Ann, places it in close relation with the navigation of all Massachusetts bay and imparts to it considerable importance. No surveys have yet been made, but it is believed that sufficient defence may be provided for $200,000.—(Statement 1, table E.) Should there be any occasion for defensive works before the
proposed new works can be commenced, an expenditure of $10,000 in repairs of the old fort will be required.—(table A.)
Bererly harbor.-This harbor will be defended chiefly by a portion of the works designed for Salem. $50,000 in addition will secure it.— Statement 1, table F.)
Salem harbor.—The port of Salem is distant from Marblehead two miles, and separated therefrom by a peninsula. The occupation of the extremity of Winter island (where are the ruins of Fort Pickering) on one side, and Naugus Head on the other, will effectually secure this harbor. Projects have been presented for this defence, estimated to cost $225,000.-(Statement 1, tables D and F.) On a sudden emergency, old Fort Lee may be put in an effective state for $2,000.-(table A.)
Marblehead harbor.-Besides covering, in some measure, the harbor of Boston, Salem and Marblehead harbors possess an important commerce of their own, and also afford shelter for vessels prevented, by certain winds, from entering Boston, or pursuing their course eastward. The proposed mode of defending Marblehead harbor consists in occupying, on the north side, the hillock which commands the present Fort Sewall, (which will be superseded by the new work,) and, on the south, the position of Jack's Point. The two works will cost $318,000.-(Statement 1, tables D and F.
To repair old Fort Sewall, which may be necessary, if the new works are not soon begun, will require $10,000.-(Table A.)
Boston harbor.- We come now to the most important harbor in the eastern section of the coast; and, considering the relation to general commerce, and the interests of the navy, one of the most important in the whole Union.
After a careful examination of all the necessary conditions of such a problem, the board of naval officers and engineers, in their joint report of 1820, gave this harbor a preference over all other positions to the east and inclusive of New York bay and the Hudson, as the seat of the great northern naval depot; and the government, by the great additions and improvements that have from year to year been since made to the navy yard on the Charlestown side, have virtually sanctioned the recommendation of the board. But, independent of the navy yard, Boston is a city of great wealth, and possesses an extensive and active
The old works defended merely the interior basin from attacks by water; but, as it often happens that vessels enter Nantasket roads with a wind too scant to take them to the city, or are detained in President roads by light winds or an adverse tide; as the former, especially, is a very convenient anchorage whence to proceed to sea; and, above all, as Nantasket roads affords the best possible station for a blockading squadron, it was deemed indispensable to place permanent defences at the mouth of the harbor. The project of defence regards the existing works, with the necessary repairs and modifications, as constituting a second barrier.
Besides a permanent work, now well advanced, on George's island, it contemplates permanent works on Nantasket Head; filling up the Broad Sound channel, so as to leave no passage in that direction for ships-of-war.
Until the best draught for steam vessels of war shall be well ascertained, it will not be safe to say to what depth the Broad Sound channel should be restricted; nor, indeed, can it be positively asserted that this description of vessel can be conveniently excluded by such means. Other vessels can, however, be thus excluded; and steam vessels passing this channel would still have to pass the inner barrier. The estimated cost of the works for this harbor is $2,040,000.
Besides the works of a permanent character, it will be necessary, in the beginning of a war, to erect several temporary works on certain positions in the harbor, and on the lateral approaches to the navy yard.—(Statement 1, tables A, E, and F.)
Plymouth and Provincetown harbors. These harbors have a commerce of some consequence of their own, but they are particularly interesting in reference to the port of Boston. While these are undefended, an enemy's squadron blockading Massachusetts bay will have ports of refuge under his lea, which would enable him to maintain his blockade, even throughout the most stormy seasonsknowing that the winds which would force him to seek shelter would be adverse to outward-bound, and fatal to such inward vessels as should venture near the Cape. Were the enemy deprived of these harbors, he would be unable to enforce a rigorous investment, as he would be constrained to take an offing on every approach of foul weather. Our own vessels coming in from sea, and finding an enemy interposed between them and Boston, or, being turned from their course by adverse winds, would, in case of the defence of these ports, find to the south of Boston shelters equivalent to those provided in the east, at Marblehead, Salem, Gloucester, and Portsmouth. Plymouth harbor has not been fully surveyed. Provincetown harbor has been surveyed, but the projects of defence have not been formed. The former, it is thought, may be suitably covered by a work of no great cost on Garnett Point; while, to fortify Provincetown harbor in such a way as to cover vessels taking shelter therein, and at the same time deprive an enemy of safe anchorages, will involve considerable expense. Probably no nearer estimate can be formed at present than that offered by the engineer department soine years ago, which gave $100,000 for Plymouth, and $600,000 for Provincetown.-(Statement 1, tables D and E.)
The coast between Cape Cod and Cape Hatteras differs from the northeastern section in possessing fewer harbors, in having but little rocky and a great portion of sandy shore, in its milder climate and clearer atmosphere; and it differs from all the other portions in the depth and magnitude of its interior seas and sounds, and in the distance to which deep tide navigation extends up its numerous large rivers. The circuit of the coast, not including the shores of the great bays, measures 650 miles, while a straight line from one of the above-named capes to the other measures about 520 miles.
Martha's Vineyard sound.–To the south of Cape Cod lie the islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, which, with several smaller islands on the south, and the projection of Cape Malabar on the east, enclose the above-named sound. The channels through this sound, being sufficient for merchant vessels, and one of the channels permitting the passage even of small frigates, are not only the constant track of coasting vessels, but also of large numbers of vessels arriving in the tempestuous months from foreign voyages. There are within the sound the harbors of Tarpaulin Cove, Holmes's Hole, Edgartown, Falmouth, Hyanris, and Nantucket, besides small anchorages.
In addition to the many thousand vessels passing this water annually, (of which there are sometimes forty or fifty,) a portion containing very valuable cargoes, to be seen in the harbors awaiting a change of wind, there is supposed to be at least 40,000 tons of whaling vessels owned in the towns of this sound.
If the harbors just named are to be defended at all, it must be by fortifications. There is little or no population except in the towns, and even this is believed to be entirely without military organization. A privateer might run into either of these harbors, and capture, destroy, or levy contributions at pleasure. The use of the sound itself, as an anchorage for vessels-of-war, cannot be prevented by fortifications alone. $250,000 may, perhaps, suffice for the defence of all the harbors against the kind of enterprise to which they are exposed.—(Statement 1, table F.)
New Bedford and Fairhaven harbor.—No survey has been made of this harbor, on which lie two of the most flourishing towns. It is easily defensible, and the amount formerly assumed by the engineer department will probably suffice, namely, $300,000.-(Statement 1, table D.)
Buzzard's bay.-Interposed between the main and the island of Martha's Vineyard, are the Elizabeth islands, which bound Buzzard’s bay on the south. This bay covers the harbor of New Bedford, and might be used as an anchorage by an enemy's fleet; but it is too wide to be defended by fortifications.
Narraganset bay. The properties of this great roadstead will be here briefly adverted to. More minute information may be obtained by reference to reports of 1820 and 1821.
As a harbor, this is acknowledged by all to be the best on the whole coast of the United States; and it is the only close man-of-war harbor that is accessible with a northwest wind, the prevailing and most violent wind of the inclement season. Numerous boards and commissions, sometimes composed of naval officers, sometimes of army officers, sometimes of officers of both services, have, at different times, had the subject of this roadstead under consideration; and all have concurred in recommending, in strong terms, that it be made a place of naval rendezvous and repair, if not a great naval depot; one or more of these commissions preferring it, for the latter purpose, to all other positions. These recommendations have not been acted on; but it is next to certain that a war would force their adoption upon the government.
With the opening of this anchorage properly defended, hardly a vessel-of-war would come, either singly or in small squadrons, upon the coast, in the boisterous season, without aiming at this port, on account of the comparative certainty of an immediate entrance. And this would be particularly the case with vessels