Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

While he is thus pursuing his route towards Washington, the forces of Virginia will be crossing the Potomac and concentrating at Port Tobacco, or some position between that place and Fort Washington, preparatory to falling on his Hank and rear. This would seem to be conclusive; for it is difficult to conceive of troops persevering in an expedition when every moment will not only place them further from succor, but greatly increase their need of it. Railroads reach from near the crossing places of the Potomac to the very heart of the country south; and a very few days would bring forward a large force, all of which would arrive upon the rear of the enemy.

It is said in the criticism that, if shut out of the Patuxent, the enemy might land between the mouth of that river and Annapolis, and thence proceed against Washington. But the same difficulties belong to this project, and a new dificulty is added. The Virginia forces arrive, as before, and assail his flank either between the Potomac and Patuxent, or between the Patuxent and the Chesapeake; and there is, besides, the Patuxent for the enemy to cross both in going and returning—itself a formidable military obstacle.

It is said, also, that the landing may be made in the Potomac; but this only proves that the system animadverted on had not been studied, it being a fundamental principle of the system that such landing must be prevented by fortifying the rivers as low down as possible

The southern coast, stretching from Cape Hatteras to the southern point of Florida, is invariably low, and for the greater part sandy; much resembling the coast from the above-mentioned cape to Montauk Point, on the east end of Long Island.

A ridge of sand, here and there interrupted by the alluvion of the rivers, estends through its whole length. This ridge, in certain portions, lies on the main land, while in others it is divided therefrom by basins or “ sounds” of various width and depth, and is cut up into islands by numerous channels which connect these interior waters with the sea. Wherever this sand ridge is interrupted its place is occupied by low and marshy grounds, bordering the principal and the many lesser outlets of the rivers.

Ocracock inlet, N. C.—The shallowness of the water on the bars at this inlet effectually excudes all vessels-of-war—at least, all moved by sails. But as this is an outlet of an extensive commerce, and as, through this opening, attempts might be made in small vessels, barges, or the smaller class of steam vessels, to destroy this commerce, or to interrupt the line of interior water communication, timely preparation must be made of temporary works equal to defence against all such minor enterprises.

Beaufort harbor, N. C.-A work called Fort Macon has been erected for the defence of this harbor, which will require some repairs. Some operations are also called for to protect the site from the wearing action of the sea.—(Statement 1, table A.) Estimate, $10,000.

Mouths of Cape Fear rirer, N. C.—The defence of the main channel of Cape Fear requires, in addition to Fort Caswell, (now nearly completed,) on Oak island, another fort on Bald Head. And the defence of the smaller channel will require a redoubt on Federal Point. The battery magazine, block-house, &c., at Smithville, should remain as accessories. Fort Casuell, Oak island, (statement 1, table C,) requires $6,000 to complete it; the fort on Bald Head (statement 1, table F) will require $180,000; the redoubt on Federal Point (statement 1, table F) will require $18,000; and the battery, &c., called Fort Johnston, at Smithville, (statement 1, table A,) $5,000.

Georgetown harbor, S. C.—The first inlet of any consequence south of Cape Fear river is at the united mouths of the Waccamaw, Pedee, and Black rivers, forming Georgetown harbor; which is a commodious and capacious bay, having sufficient water within, and also upon the bar near the mouth, for merchant vessels and small vessels-of-war. A survey of this harbor was begun many years ago, but never completed, and no projects for defence have been made. It is probable that a work placed near Moscheto creek, or on Winyaw Point, would give adequate strength, at the cost of about $250,000.-(Statement 1, table E.)

Santee river and Bull's bay.About ten miles south from Georgetown are the mouths of the Santee, the largest river in South Carolina. It is not known whether the bars at the mouths of this river have sufficient water for sea-going vessels. The same uncertainty exists as to the depth into Bull's bay. It may be sufficient to consider these and the other inlets between Georgetown and Charleston as calling for small works capable of resisting boat enterprise, and to assign as the cost $100,000. Should they prove to be navigable for privateers they will require a larger expenditure.—(Statement 1, table F.)

Charleston S. C.--This city, situated at the junction of Ashley and Cooper rivers, is about five miles, in a direct line from the sea. Between it and the ocean there is a wide and safe roadstead for vessels of any draught. Upon the bar, lying three or four miles outside of the harbor, there is, however, only water enough for smaller frigates and sloops-of-war. On the southwest side of the harbor is James's island, in which are several serpentine passages, more or less navigable for boats, barges, and small steam vessels; some of them communicate directly with the sea and Stono river. Whappoo cut, the most northerly passage from the Stono to Charleston harbor, enters Ashley river opposite the middle of the city.

Interior natural water communications exist, also, to the southwest of Stono river, connecting this with North Edisto river; the latter with South Edisto and St. Helena sound; this again, with broad river; and, finally, this last with Savannah river.

On the north side of the harbor of Charleston lies Sullivan's island, separated from the main by a channel navigable only by small craft. On the northwest side of this island is an interior water communication, which extends to Bull's bay, and even beyond, to the harbor of Georgetown.

From this sketch it is apparent that it will not do to restrict the defences to the principal entrance of the harbor. The lateral avenues must also be shut. And it is probable that accurate surveys of all these avenues will show that the best mode of defending them will be by works at or near the mouths of the inlets, as the enemy will be kept thereby at a greater distance from the city; the lesser harbors formed by these inlets will be protected, and the line of interior water communication will be inaccessible from the sea.

No position for the defence of the principal entrance to Charleston harbor can be found nearer to the ocean than the western extremity of Sullivan's island. This is, at present, occupied by Fort Moultrie—a work of some strength, but by no means adequate to its object, its battery being weak, and the scarp 80 low as to oppose no serious obstacle to escalade. How far this work, by à. modification of its plan and relief, may be made to contribute to a full defence of the harbor, has not yet been determined. But so long as it is the only work. at this the principal point of defence, it must be kept in good condition for serrice; and no alterations that will disturb this efficiency should be undertaken. The repairs now indispensable will cost $10,000.-(Statement 1, table A.)

On a shoal nearly opposite to Fort Moultrie the foundation of a fort has been begun, which will have a powerful cross-fire with Fort Moultrie. This is called Fort Sumter.—(Statement 1, table C.) To complete this work will require, it is estimated, $286,000.

H. Rep. Com. 86—13

In the upper part of the harbor is Castle Pinckney, on Shuter's Folly island. This requires some repairs, estimated at $7,000.-(Statement 1, table A.)

Stono, North Edisto, and South Edisto.-All these must be fortified, at least in such a manner as to protect these inlets from enterprises in boats or small vessels. To that end, $50,000 may be assigned to each.—(Statement 1, table F.)

St. Helena sound. The proper defences cannot be pointed out till the sound shall have been surveyed. Although there is supposed to be no great depth of water on the bar, it is known to be navigable for the smaller class of merchantmen and for steamboats, and to have a navigable communication with the head of Broad river, or Port Royal, intersecting the interior navigation between Charleston and Savannah. I'he estimate is $150,000.-(Statement 1, table F.)

Broad rirer, or Port Royal roads.—The value of this capacious roadstead as a harbor of refuge depends on the depth that can be carried over the bar; on the distance of this bar beyond the line of coast, and on the means that may be applicable of lessening the danger of crossing it. This is supposed to be the deepest bar on the southern coast. Should there prove to be water enough for frigates, and should it be practicable to make the passage over the bar safe and easy, by the erection of light-houses on the shore and lights, or other distinct guides on the bar, this harbor, situated within sixty miles of the city of Charleston and twenty of Savannah river, intersecting the interior water communication between these cities, thereby securing the arrival of supplies of every kind, would possess a high degree of importance, not only as a harbor of refuge, but also as a naval station.

The survey of the exterior shoals, constituting the bar, should be made with the greatest care and all possible minuteness. Only when this shall have been done can the true relation of this inlet to the rest of the coast be known, and on this relation the position and magnitude of the required defences well depend. For the present, the estimate made some years ago by the engineer department is adopted, namely, $300,000.-(Statement 1, table E.)

Savannah, and mouth of Savannah river, Georgia.-Mention has been made of the natural interior water communication along the coast of South Carolina. A similar communication extends south from the Savannah river as far as the St. John's, in Florida. Owing to these passages the city of Savannah, like Charleston, is liable to be approached by other avenues than the harbor or river, and accordingly its defences must have relation to these lesser as well as great channels.

The distance from the mouth of Wassaw sound, or even Ossabaw sound, (both to the southward of Savannah river,) to the city is not much greater than from the mouth of the river, and an enterprise may proceed the whole distance by water, or part of the way by water and part by land, from either inlet or from both. As in the case of like channels in the neighborhood of Charleston, it cannot now be determined where they can be defended most advantageously. It is hoped, however, that the localities will permit the defences to be placed near the inlets, because thus placed they will serve the double purpose of guarding the city of Savannah and covering these harbors, which, in time of war, cannot but be very useful.

The defence of Savannah river is not difficult. A fort on Cockspur island, lying just within the mouth, and perhaps for additional security another on 'Tybee island, which forms the southern cape at the mouth of the river, would prevent the passage of vessels up the channel and cover the anchorage between Tybee and Cockspur.

Old Fort Jackson, standing about four miles below the city, should be maintained as a second barrier, both as respects the main channel and the passages rhich come into the river from the south, which last would not at all be controlled y works on Cockspur or Tybee. Fort Pulaski, on Cockspur island, is well adanced, and to a certain extent is even now efficient, measures being now in and for mounting the lower tier of guns ; $215,000 are required to complete he works and the outworks and appendages.—(Statement 1, table C.). To ortify Tybee island may require $120,000, (statement 1, table E,) and to reair Fort Jackson $50,000.-(Statement 1, table A.)

T'assaw sound, Ossabaw sound, St. Catherine's sound, at the mouth of Meday river; Sapelo sound, Doby inlet, Altamaha sound, at the mouth of Altavaha river ; St. Simon's sound, at the mouth of Buffalo creek ; St. Andrew's pund, at the united mouths of the Scilla and Santilla rirers; and Cumberland ound, at the mouth of St. Mary's river.-All these communications with the cean are highly important as regards the line of interior navigation, and several f them as affording access to excellent harbors. The last, and one or two thers, are known to be navigable to the largest sloops-of-war and merchantnen, and some of the others are but little inferior, as regards depth of entrance r safety of anchorage.

All these openings have yet to be surveyed; some of them are probably easily lefensible by forts and batteries, while others may require the aid of floating efences.

It is an important principle, bearing peculiarly on the defence of the whole muthern coast, that on a shore possessing few harbors it is at the same time bore necessary to preserve them all for our own use, and more easy to deprive n enemy of that shelter without which a close blockade cannot be maintained. l'his principle is enforced in the instance of our southern coast by the two folowing weighty considerations, namely: first, its remoteness from the nearest taval rendezvous, the Chesapeake, which is on a mean 600 miles distant, and o leeward both as to wind and current; and second, its being close upon the arboard hand as they enter the Atlantic of the great concourse of vessels passng at all seasons through the Florida channel. While, therefore, this part of he coast, from the concentration of vessels here, is in great need of protection of some sort, naval aid can be extended to it only with difficulty, and at the risk of being cut off from all retreat by a superior enemy.

Accurate and minute surveys, which will enable our vessels, whether pursued py an enemy or suffering by stress of weather, to shun the dangers which beset he navigation of these harbors

, and properly arranged defences to cover them when arrived, seem to be indispensable.

When these harbors shall be fortified, the operation of investing the coast ind watching the great outlet of commerce through the Florida passage will be difficult and hazardous one to an enemy, to whom no perseverance or skill can ivail to maintain a continuous blockade, while, on the part of our small vesselsof-war, steam frigates, and privateers, the same sort of supervision will be at all tines easy and safe.

Nothing better can now be done than to assume $200,000 as the average cost of defending each of the nine entrances; giving a total of $1,800,000.-(Statement 1, tables E and F.)

St. Augustine, Florida.—This, the most southern of the harbors on the Atlantic, and the key to the eastern portion of Florida, is accessible to the smaller class of merchantmen, to privateers, and to steam vessels, and requires a certain amount of protection from attacks by war. It is, therefore, proposed ** put that part of the old Spanish fort (Fort Marion) that commands the harbor in a serviceable state, which will require $50,000.—(Statement 1, table A.)

Having now passed along the whole Atlantic coast, from Passamaquoddy to Cape Florida, pointed out every harbor of any consequence, and specified every

work that a thorough system of defence will require, we will, in order to give a comprehensive view of the number, cost, armament, and garrisons of the works, refer to statement 1, accompanying this report. In that statement the works are divided into tables, showing separately, 1st, (table A,) the old works already repaired and those proposed to be repaired and retained in the system of defence; 2d, (table B) new works completed; 3d, (table C,) works under 001struction; 4th, (table D,) works to be first commenced ; 5th, (table E,) works to be commenced next after those in table D; 6th, (table F,) works to be last commenced.

The most essential works on the Atlantic coast are included in the first fire tables, and, it appears from the recapitulation, that for these there will be required, for garrisons, in time of war, 28,720 men; for the armament, 5,74 pieces of ordnance of every kind; and for the expense yet to be incurred, $9,476,767.

We consider it to be our duty to estimate for the last class of works also. (table F,) although it must be a long time before permanent works for these positions can be commenced. For these there will be required, in addition, for war garrisons, 25,545 men; for armament, 4,790 pieces of ordnance; and for the expense of erection, $14,241,824.

It must be here stated that, as to a few of the works in table F, fuller information may require them to be elevated into some of the earlier classes.

SEA-COAST FROM CAPE FLORIDA TO THE MOUTH OF THE SABINE.

The first positions that present themselves, on doubling around Cape Florida into the Gulf of Mexico, are Key West and the Dry Tortugas.

This board concur in the opinions heretofore expressed in favor of these fine harbors, and they beg leave to refer, for very interesting statements, in relation to the latter harbor especially, to a letter from Commodore Rodgers to the Seeretary of the Navy, July 3, 1829, (Senate documents, 1st session 21st Congress

, vol. i, No. 1, page 236,) and letter from the Secretary of the Navy, March 25, 1830, (Senate documents, 1st session 21st Congress, vol 2, No. 11i, page 1.)

A naval force, designed to control the navigation of the Gulf, could desire no better position than Key West or the Tortugas. Upon the very wayside of the only path through the Gulf, it is at the same time well situated as to all the great points therein. It overlooks Havana, Pensacola, Mobile, the mouths of the Mississippi, and both the inlet and outlet of the Gulf.

The Tortugas harbors in particular are said to afford perfect shelter for vessels of every class, with the greatest facility of ingress and egress. And there can be no doubt that an adversary in possession of large naval means would, with great advantage, make these harbors his habitual resort and his point of general rendezvous and concentration for all operations on this sea.

With a enemy thus posted, the navigation of the Gulf by us would be imminently hazardous, if not impossible, and nothing but absolute naval superiority would avail anything against him. Mere military means could approach no nearer than the nearest shore of the continent.

It is believed that there are no harbors in the Gulf at all comparable with these that an enemy could resort to with his larger vessels. To deprive him of these would therefore be interfering materially with any organized system of naval operations in this sea. The defence of these harbors would, however, do much more than this. It would transfer to our own squadron, even should it be inferior, these most valuable positions, and it would afford a point of refuge to our navy and our commerce at the very spot where it would be most necessary and useful.

In this report, already too much extended, we forbear to enlarge on this topic,

« AnteriorContinua »