Imatges de pÓgina

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 these, $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, having 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 Mifflin, 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.

The expense of the work on Fort Delaware may be estimated at $491,000, 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. În 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 number of vessels just ready for, or just returned from, sea.

A very important bearing upon the security of Norfolk and the navy yard, 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 debark his troops in Lynnhaven bay, and despatch them against Norfolk, while his fleet would pass up the harbor to the vicinity of the town, not only covering the flank 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 of a 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.

On the completion of the projected defences, the circumstances will be very different. Then, those defiles must be attacked in front, because no part of the enemy's force can be landed above the mouth of the roads. But this is not all. The moment an enemy advances towards Norfolk from this point of debarkation, his communication with his fleet will be jeoparded, because, as the defiles do not require a large body to defend them against an attack in front, the greater part of the reinforcements arriving from above, by way of the river, may be landed upon his flanks, or in his rear. An offensive land movement by the enemy, under such circumstances, could be justified only in the case of his finding an entire want of preparation, caused by the unexpected commencement of hostilities. In connexion with this disposition for defence, it may be expedient on the opening of a war, to throw up a field-work on the shore opposite the position of Fort Calhoun, which would, besides, contribute to the exclusion from the roadstead of vessels of small draught.

The above remarks show that the fortifications in progress are not less necessary to the security of the navy yard and the city of Norfolk from a land attack than from an attack by water, and that both these important functions are superadded to the task of defending the only good roadstead of the southern coast, and of contributing, in a very important degree, towards the defence of the Chesapeake bay.

As in the case of Narraganset roads, it has been objected to this system of defence that, although it may shut up this anchorage it leaves others in this region open. May we suppose, then, that if there were no other than this harbor, its defence would be justifiable? If so, it would seem that the objection rests on the principle that in proportion as nature has been bountiful to us, we must be niggard to ourselves; that, having little, we may cherish it, but, having much, we must throw all away.

The same criticism complains of the unreasonable magnitude of one of these works, (Fort Monroe,) and we concede that there is justice in the criticism. But it has long been too late to remedy the evil. It may not, however, be improper to avail of this opportunity to remove from the country the professional reproach attached to this error. When the system of coast defence was about to be taken up, it was thought best by the government and Congress, to call from abroad à portion of that skill and science which a long course of active Warfare was supposed to have supplied. Fort Monroe is one of the results of that determination. It was not easy, probably, to come down from the exaggerated scale of warfare to which Europe was then accustomed; nor for those who had been brought up where wars were often produced, and always magnified by juxtaposition or proximity, to realize to what degree remoteness from belligerent nations would diminish military means and qualify military objects. Certain it is, that this experiment, costly as it was in the case of Fort Monroe, would have been much more so but for the opposition of some whose more moderate opinions had been moulded by no other circumstances than those peculiar to our own country.

The mistake is one relating to magnitude, however, not to strength. Magnitude in fortifications is often a measure of strength; but not always, nor in this instance. Fort Monroe might have been as strong as it is now against a water attack, or an assault, or a siege, with one-third its present capacity, and perhaps at no more than half its cost. We do not think this work too strong for its position, nor too heavily armed; and as the force of the garrison will depend mainly on the extent of the armament, the error has caused an excess in the first outlay chiefly, but will not involve much useless expense after completion.

Although there is much important work to be done to complete the fort, it is even now in a state to contribute largely to the defence of the roadstead, and there is no doubt that in a very short time all the casemated parts may be perctly ready to recieve the armament.

This work will be found in statement 1, table C; $223,367 being required to complete it.

Fort Calhoun cannot yet be carried forward for want of stability in the foundation. The artificial mass on which it is to stand having been raised out of the water, the walls of the battery were begun some years since, but it was soon found that their weight caused considerable subsidence. On an inspection by engineer officers, it was then decided to keep the foundations loaded with more than the whole weight of the finished work until all subsidence had ceased. The load had hardly been put on, however, before it was injudiciously determined to take it off and begin to build, although the settling was still going on. Happily a better policy prevailed before the construction was resumed, but not before the very considerable expense of removing the load had been incurred, and the further expense of replacing it rendered necessary. It is hoped the whole load will be replaced early the present year.—(Statement 1, table C.) Required to complete the work $416,000.

It may be expedient, in time of war, by way of providing interior barriers, to erect batteries on Craney island, at the mouth of Elizabeth river, and to put in condition and arm old Fort Norfolk, which is just below the city.

Harbor of St. Mary's.—The central situation (as regards the Chesapeake) of this fine basin, its relation to the Potomac, its depth of water, and the facility with which it may be defended, indicate its fitness as a harbor of refuge for the commerce of the Chesapeake bay, and as an occasional, if not constant, station during war of a portion of the naval force. A survey has been made, but no project has been formed. The engineer department, some years ago, conjes tured that the cost of defences in this harbor might amount to $300,000.(Statement 1, table F.)

Annapolis harbor.—No surveys or plans of defence have been made. The existing works are inefficient and quite out of repair. A former estimate made by the engineer department, amounting to $250,000, is adopted here.—(Statement 1, table F.)

Harbor of Baltimore.— The proximity of the city to Chesapeake bay greatly endangers the city of Baltimore. In the present state of things, an enemy in a few hours' march, after an easy landing, and without having his communication with his fleet seriously endangered, can make himself master of that great emporium of commerce. There are required for its security two forts on the Patapsco—one at Hawkins's Point, and the other opposite that point, at the extreme end of the flat that runs off from Sollers’s Point; these being the lowest positions at which the passage of the Patapsco can be defended. Besides the advantages that will result, of obliging the enemy to land at a greater distancethereby gaining time, by delaying his march, for the arrival of succor, and preventing his turning the defensive positions which our troops might occupy-it will be impossible for him to endanger the city by a direct attack by water.

The present Fort McHenry, Redoubt Wood, and Covington battery should be retained as a second barrier. The first mentioned is now in good condition, and the repairs required for the others may be applied at the beginning of a war.

The fort on Sollers's Point flats, which should be first commenced, is estimated to cost $1,000,000.-(Statement 1, table D.)

The fort on Hawkins's Point, (to be found in statement 1, table F,) will cost, it is supposed, $376,000.

Mouth of Elk river.—The completion of the line of water communication from the Delaware to the waters of the Chesapeake makes it proper to place a fort somewhere near the mouth of Elk river, in order to prevent an enemy from destroying, by a sudden enterprise, the works forming this outlet of the canal

. There have been no surveys made with a view to establish such protection, which are estimated at $50,000.-(Statement 1, table F.)

Cities of Washington, Geogetown, and Alexandria.-Fort Washington overs these cities from any attack by water, and will oblige an enemy to land it some eight or ten miles below Alexandria, should that city be his object, and ibout twice as far below Washington. It will also serve the very important purpose of covering troops crossing from Virginia with a view to fall on the lanks of an enemy moving against the capital from the Patuxent or the Chesawake. To put the necessary repairs on Fort Washington will cost about $20,000.-(See statement 1, table A.)

Cedar Point, Potomac river.—But all these objects would have been better ulfilled had the work been placed at Lower Cedar Point. As it is, however, he contemplated works being constructed in the Patuxent, and the militia of the surrounding country in a due state of preparation, an enterprise against Washington would be a hazardous one.

As giving complete security to the towns in the District, covering more than Fixty miles in length of the Potomac, and a large tract of country lying between the Potomac and the Patuxent, the work on Cedar Point should not be omitted. There have been no surveys made of the ground, nor projects of the fort, which, in a conjectural estimate of the engineer department, was set down at $300,000.(Statement 1, table E.)

Patucent river.—The more effectually to protect the city of Washington from a sudden attack by troops landed at the head of navigation in the Patuxent, and to provide additional shelter for vessels in the Chesapeake, a fort has been planned to occupy Point Patience, and another to occupy Thomas's Point, both a short distance up the river. The work on Thomas's Point is (in statement 1, table D) estimated to cost $250,000; and the work on Point Patience, (in statement 1, table F,) estimated to cost $246,000.

It will be perceived that the system of defence for Washington contemplates, first, defending the Potomac on Cedar Point and maintaining a second barrier at Fort Washington; second, defending the mouth of the Patuxent. This system is criticised in the document before referred to in a way to induce the suspicion that it was not understood.

During the last war there was no fort in the Patuxent; and the consequence was, that the British approached by that avenue and occupied the whole river as high as Pig Point-nearly fifty miles from its mouth, and less than twenty miles from the capital; while, in consequence of there being no forts in the Potomac, they occupied thatr iver as high as Alexandria, inclusive; by this latter occupation perfectly protecting the left flank of the movement during its whole advance and retreat. Both flanks being safe, the British had nothing to fear except from a force in front; and that this risk was not great, in the short march of less than twenty miles from his boats, was proved by the issue.

On the ninth day from that on which the fleet entered the Chesapeake the English army was in possession of the capital, having penetrated near fifty miles beyond the point of debarkation. On the twelfth day from the time of landing, the troops were again on shipboard near the mouth of the river. This attack, exceedingly well conceived and very gallantly executed, owed its success entirely to the want of defences, such as are now proposed.

Let us suppose both rivers fortified as recommended, and an enemy landed at the mouth of the Patuxent. If now he attempt this enterprise his march will be prolonged by at least four days; that is to say, it will require more than sixteen days, during which time he will be out of communication with his fleet, as regards supplies and assistance.

The opposition to his invasion will begin at the landing, because our troops, having now nothing to fear as to their flank, either from the Potomac or Patuxent, will dispute every foot of territory; and although he should continue to advance, it must be at a slower rate.

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