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no defence by fortifications, other than a field-work or two, which may be thrown up at the opening of a war.
2d. The central channel, which enters from sea by passing between Rhode Island and Canonicut island. This is by far the best entrance, and leads to the best anchorage; and this it is proposed to defend by a fort on the east side of the entrance, designed to be the principal work in the system. This work, called Fort Adams, is nearly completed. On the west side of the entrance it is proposed to place another work; and on an island, called Rose island, facing the entrance, a third work. It is also proposed to repair the old fort on Goat island, just within the mouth; and also old Fort Green, which is a little higher up, and on the island of Rhode Island.
3d. As to the western passage, three modes present themselves; first, by reducing the depth of water by an artificial ledge, so as while the passage
shall be as free as it is now for the coasting trade, it shall be shut as to the vessels of war, including steam vessels; second, by relying on fortifications alone to close the channel; or, third, by resorting in part to one and in part to the other mode just mentioned. Either is practicable; but being the least expensive and most certain, the estimates are founded on the first.
The total cost of the Narraganset defences is estimated at $1,817,492,(Statement 1, tables A. B, D, E, and F.)
Gardiner's.bay. It is uncertain whether this harbor, which would be a very valuable one to an enemy investing this part of the coast, is defensible by forti
. fications alone. After it shall have been surveyed, it may appear that from one or more positions the whole anchorage may be controlled by heavy sea mortars. In such a case, the defensive works would not be costly. "If it be found expedient to fortify some particular portion of the bay, as an anchorage for steam batteries, (which, however, is not anticipated,) the expense would probably be as great as was anticipated some years since by the engineer department, viz: $400,000.-(Statement 1, table F.)
Sag harbor, New York, and Stonington, Connecticut.-Neither of these harbors has been surveyed with reference to defence. The first is possessed of considerable tonnage; and the second, besides being engaged in commerce, is the terminus of a railroad from Boston. $100,000 may be assigned to the first, and $200,000 to the other.—(Statement 1, tables E and F.)
New London harbor is very important to the commerce of Long Island sound; and, as a port of easy access, having great depth of water, rarely freezing, and being easily defended, it is an exellent station for the navy. It is also valuable as a shelter for vessels bound out or home, and desirous of avoiding a blockading Equadron off Sandy Hook.
In the plan of defence, the present forts (Trumbull and Griswold) give place to more efficient works, whereof the expense is estimated at $141,000.—(State ment 1, tables C and F.)
Mouth of Connecticut river.—This river has been shown to be subject to the expeditions of an enemy. No survey has been made with a view to its defences; $100,000 is introduced here as the conjectural cost.-(Statement 1, table F)
New Haven harbor.—It is proposed to defend this harbor by improving and enlarging Fort Hale, and substituting a new work for the slight redoubt erected during the last war, called Fort Wooster. The expense of both may be set down at $90,000, exclusive of $5,000 for immediate repairs of old Fort Hale.(Statement 1, table F.)
There are several towns between New Haven and New York, on both sides of the sound; none of them are very large as yet, still, most, if not all, are prosperous and increasing. Although, in their present condition, it might not be deemed necessary to apply any money to permanent defences, yet, as part of the present object is to ascertain, as near as may be, the ultimate cost of completely fortifying the coast, it seems proper to look forward to the time when some of these towns may become objects of predatory enterprises of some magnitude. Bearing in mind the probable increase of population in the mean time, and the situation of the places generally, it is thought that $200,000 will be enough to provide defences for all.-(Statement 1, table F.)
New York harbor.— The objects of the projected works for the security of New York are to cover the city from an attack by land or sea; to protect its numerous shipping; to prevent, as far as possible, the blockade of this great port; and to cover the interior communication uniting this harbor with the Delaware. In the present condition of the defences an enemy would encounter no great opposition, whether his attack were made by land or water.
There are two avenues to the city, namely: one by the main channel, direct from sea, and one by the sound. If an enemy come by the way of the sound, he may now land his forces on the New York side, at Hill Gate, within less than ten miles of New York, and the next day, at the latest, be in the city; or he may land on the Long island side at the same distance, and in the same time be master of the na vy yard and of Brooklyn heights, whence the city of New York is perfectly commanded; or he may divide his forces and reach both objects at the same moment.
The projected system of defence closes this avenue at the greatest distance possible from the city, namely, at Throg's Point. The occupation of this point will force the enemy to land more than twenty miles from the city on one side, and still further froin the navy yard on the other.
A work now in progress at Throg's Point will probably prevent any attempt to force this passage. It will, as we have seen, oblige an enemy to land at a considerable distance from the object; and, as he will then be unable to turn the strong position afforded by Harlem river, the cover on the New York side will be sufficient.
But should he land on the Long Island side he might, by leaving parties on suitable positions with a view to prevent our crossing the river and falling on his rear, make a dash at the navy yard, having no obstacle in his front. To prevent this effectually, and also to accomplish other objects, a work should be erreted on Wilkins's Point, opposite Throg's Point. This work, besides completing the defence of the channel
, would involve a march against the navy yard from this quarter in great danger; since all the forces that could be collected on the New York shore might, under cover of this work, be crossed over to Long 1: land, and fall on the rear of the enemy, cutting off his communication with the feet. The two works on Throg's and Wilkins's Points may, therefore, be regarded as perfectly protecting, on that side, the city and navy yard.
Against an attack by the main channel there are
1st. The works in the vicinity of the city, which would act upon an enemy's squadron only after its arrival before the place. They consist of Fort Columbus, Castle Williams, and South Battery, on Governor's island; Fort Wood, on Bedlow's island; and Fort Gibson, on Ellis's island.
It is necessary that these works be maintained, because, in the event of the lower barrier being forced, these would still afford a resource. It is a disadFantage of their positions, however, that the destruction of the city might be going on simultaneously with the contest between these forts and the fleet. They cannot, however, be dispensed with, until the outer barriers are entirely cotnpleted, if even then.
2d. At the Narrows, about seven miles below the city, the passage becomes 80 contracted as to permit good disposition to be made for defence. On the Long
Island side of the Narrows is Fort Lafayette, which is a strong water-battery standing on a reef at some distance from the shore; and immediately behind it, on the top of the bank, is a small but strong work, called Fort Hamilton. Some repairs being applied to these works this position may be regarded as well occupied.
On the west side, or Staten island side of the Narrows, are the following works belonging to the State of New York, viz: Fort Richmond, which is a waterbattery ; Battery Hudson, which is at some height above the water; Battery Morton, which is a small battery on the top of the hill; and Fort Tomkins, which is also on the top of the hill, and is the principal work. All these nerd great repairs; but, being once in proper order, would afford a very important contribution to the defence of the passage ; nothing further, indeed, being contemplated for this position, except the construction of a small redoubt on a com manding hill, a little to the southwest. The repairs of these works cannot too soon be taken in hand; and it is hoped some arrangement may soon be made with the State authorities to that end.
With the Narrows thus defended, and the works near the city in perfect order, New York might be regarded as pretty well protected against an attack by water through this passage.
But there lies below the Narrows a capacious bay, affording good anchorage for any number of vessels-of-war and transports. An enemy's squadron being in that bay, into which entrance is very easy, would set a seal upon this outlet of the harbor. Not a vessel could enter or depart at any season of the year. And it would also intercept the water communication, by the way of the Raritan, between New York and Philadelphia.
The same squadron could land a force on the beach of Gravesend bay, (the place of the landing of the British, which brought on the battle of Long Island in the revolutionary war,) within seven miles of the city of Brooklyn, of its commanding height, and of the navy yard, with no intervening obstacle of any sort.
This danger is imminent, and it would not fail, in the event of war, to be a fully realized as it was during the last war, when, on the rumor of an expedition being in preparation in England, 27,000 militia were assembled to cover the city from an attack
of this sort. It is apparent that the defences near the city, and those at the Narrows, indispensable as they are for other purposes, cannot be made to prevent this enterprise, which can be thoroughly guarded against only by
3d. An outer barrier at the very mouth of the harbor. This would accomplish two objects of great consequence, namely, rendering a close blockade of the harbor impossible; and obliging an enemy, who should design to more troops against the navy yard, to land at a distance of more than twenty miles from his object, upon a dangerous beach ; leaving, during the absence of the troops, the transports at anchor in the ocean, and entirely without shelter. The hazards of such a land expedition would, moreover, be greatly enhanced by the fact that our own troops, by passing over to Long Island under cover of the fort at Wilkins's Point, could cut off the return of the enemy to his fleet, which must lie at or somewhere near Rockaway; time, distance, and the direction of the respective marches, would make, very naturally, such a maneuvre a part of the plan of defence Against an enemy landing in Gravesend bay, no such manæuvre could be effectual, on account of the shortness of his line of march, as well as of its direction.
In view of these considerations, the board of engineers projected additional works-one for the east bank and another for the middle ground; these prositions being on shoals on either hand of the bar, outside of Sandy Hook. Before determining on the works last mentioned, the board went into much research in
order to ascertain whether these shoals were unchangeable, and it was thought to have been fully proved that there had been no material alteration in more than sixty years. This apparent stability of the shoals encouraged the board to devise the project referred to.
Recent surveys have, however, discovered a new or rather another channel. If it be indeed a new channel, it shows a want of stability in the shoals that forbids
any such structures as the contemplated batteries, and it may be necessary to resort to other means. Suitable means exist, unquestionably, though it may not be best to decide on them until all doubt as to the fixed or changing nature of the channel shall be removed, especially as it must necessarily be some time before the completion of more indispensable works will allow the commencement of these. This may, however, be said with certainty, namely: that all other means failing, works may be erected on Sandy Hook which will have a good action upon the channel, and under cover of which bomb ketches or steam batteries, or both, may lie. With such an arrangement there would be little probability of the lower bay being occupied as a blockading station.
To recapitulate: The security of the city of New York and the navy yard requires, first, defences on the passage from the sound, namely, the completion of Fort Schuyler on Throg's Point, and the erection of a fort on Wilkins's Point-cost of both $976,000; second, the repair of works on Governor's island, on Bedloe's island, and on Ellis's island-estimated cost $170,897; third, the repair of the works at the Narrows, including the works belonging to the State-cost, $475,000; and, fourth, the erection of outer defences on or near Sandy Hook-estimated by the board of engineers to cost $3,362,824.
The total cost, exclusive of these last, will therefore be $1,621,897, or, including there, $4,984,721.-(Statement 1, tables A, C, and F.)
Delaware bay, Fort Delaware, Fort Mifflin, Delaware breakwater.--The coast from the mouth of the Hudson to the Chesapeake, as well as that on the south side of Long Island, is low and sandy, and is penetrated by several inlets; but not one besides the Delaware is navigable by sea-going vessels. The Delaware bay itself, being wide and full of shoals, håving an intricate channel, and being much obstructed by ice in the winter, affords no very good natural harbor within a reasonable distance of the sea.
The artificial harbor now in course of construction near Cape Henlopen will, it is hoped, fully supply this need, in which event it must be securely fortified. No plans have, however, as yet been made with that object, and as to the probable cost, nothing better can now be done than to assume the conjectural estimate made some years since in the engineer department, namely, $600,000.(Statement 1, table F.)
The lowest point at which the bay is defensible is at Pea Patch island, about forty-five miles below the city of Philadelphia. A fort on that island, to replace the one destroyed by fire; a fort opposite the Pea Patch, on the Delaware shore, to assist in commanding the Delaware channel, and at the same time protect the mouth of the Delaware and Chesapeake canal; a temporary work on the Jersey shore, to be thrown up at the commencement of a war, to assist in closing the channel on that side; together with floating obstructions, to be put down in moments of peril, will effectually cover all above this position—including Philadelphia and its navy yard, Wilmington, Newcastle, the canal before mentioned, and the Philadelphia and Baltimore railroad.
The commencement of the rebuilding of Fort Delaware being delayed by difficulties attending the settlement of new claims to the island on which it is to stand, Fort Miftin, which is an old work about seven miles below the city of Philadelphia, has been put in good order. This work is ready to receive its armament and its garrison.
expense of the work on Fort Delaware may be estimated at $191,000, and of the fort opposite, $521,000.-(Statement 1, tables C and F.)
Chesapeake bay.—The board of naval officers and engineers intrusted with the selection of sites for a great northern and a great southern naval depot, recommended in their joint reports of 1819 and 1820 Burwell's bay, on James river, for the one, and Charlestown, in Boston harbor, for the other. They also recommended Boston harbor and Narraganset bay, at the north, and Hampton roads, at the south, as chief naval rendezvous. In those reports the commissioners entered at large into the consideration of all the matters relating to these important objects, and reference is now made to those reports for many interesting details.
Hampton roads, James river, Norfolk, and the nary yard. The works projected for the defence of these are, 1st, a fort at Old Point Comfort—this is called Fort Monroe; 2d, a casemated battery, called Fort Calhoun, on the Rip Rap shoals, opposite Old Point Comfort ; and 3d, a line of floating obstruetions extending across the channel from one of these works to the other. It was the opinion of the commission above mentioned that, in the event of a great naval depot being fixed on James river, it might ultimately be proper to provide additional strength by placing works on the positions of Newport News, Wassaw shoals, and Craney Island flats. Such an expansion has, however, since then been given to the present navy yard at Gosport, (opposite Norfolk.) that there is little probability of any other position on these waters being occupied for such purposes.
The great importance of retaining Hampton roads during a war, and of covering the navy yard, is conceded on all hands. The bearing of this harbor
upon the general defence of the Chesapeake bay is, perhaps, equally well understood, it being very evident that a small hostile force would reluctantly venture up the bay, or into York river, or the Rappahannock, or any of the upper harbors, leaving behind them a great naval station, and the common rendezvous of the southern coast—a station seldom in time of war without the presence of a nunber of vessels just ready for, or just returned from, sea.
A very important bearing upon the security of Norfolk and the navy vard, independent of the closing the channel to those places, is, however, not generally understood, and has been entirely overlooked in the official animadversions (before mentioned) on the system of defence of the board of engineers.
If we suppose no defences at the mouth of the roadstead, or only such as can be disregarded or easily silenced, an enemy might deba his troops in Lynn haven bay, and despatch them against Norfolk, while his fleet would pass up the harbor to the vicinity of the town, not only covering the Hank of his troops but landing parties to turn any position that might be taken by the army attempting to defend the place; or, instead of landing in the bay, he might at his option land the main body quite near to Norfolk; and, having possession of James river, he would prevent the arrival of any succor in steamboats or otherwise by that channel. There are two or three defiles on the route from Lynnhaven bay to Norfolk
, caused by the interlocking of streams, that, with the aid of field-works, would possess great strength; and being occupied in succession, would undoubtedly delay, if not repulse, an enemy assailing them in front. Since the naval depot seems fixed at Gosport, these must, indeed, be chiefly relied on for its security from land attacks; and timely attention must be given, on the breaking out war, to the occupying of these defiles with appropriate defences. These positions possess no value whatever if they can be turned, and without adequate fortifications at the outlet of Hampton roads, there would seem to be no security for Norfolk or the navy yard, except in the presence of a large military force.