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place possesses many advantages for naval preparations for vessels of light draught of water, and would probably be made a subordinate depot in time of war.
Estimated expense of completing the works now in progress..
$20,000 For barracks, quarters, storehouses, and magazine... 25,000
8. Fort at Sackett's Harbor - In the event of naval armaments of any considerable extent being resorted to on Lake Ontario, Sackett's Harbor, from its bold water, and its excellency as a harbor, would at once become a depot of great importance; the safety of which should be insured against the enterprises of the enemy by the timely construction of appropriate works of defence. Situated directly opposite to the strong post of Kingston, on the Canadian side, and adjacent to the head of the St. Lawrence, it is one of the points at which a concentration of troops may become expedient for the defence of that portion of the frontier and the protection of the naval depot. The barrack accommodations already established there are deemed sufficient, and it remains to fortify the approach to the harbor.
Estimated expense of fort and barracks within....
9. Fort at the narrows of the St. Lawrence, below Ogdensburg.—The chief object of a work here would be to cut off the enemy's communication by the river, between Montreal and Kingston, and thus prevent him from availing himself of that channel for the transportation of troops and supplies if we cannot entirely secure it to ourselves. By this obstruction on the St. Lawrence he would be thrown altogether upon his back line of communication by the Ottawa, which, although it has the merit of being more secure from interruption, is longer and more difficult, especially in seasons of drought. This would also be another point from which the enemy might be menaced, and from which auxiliary movements might be made in aid of the chief attack, Estimated
of fort and barracks... 10. Fort near the line on Lake Champlain. A work here may be made to command the pass of the lake, and is considered by far the most important of any proposed on the whole line of frontier.
The position of Lake Champlain is somewhat peculiar. While Ontario, Erie, Huron, and Superior stretch their whole length directly along the border, (forming, in fact, the boundary,) Champlain extends deeply into our territory, at right angles with the line of the frontier; and, while its southern extremity reaches almost to the Hudson, it finds its outlet, to the north, in the St. Lawrence, nearly midway between Montreal and Quebec, the two great objects of attack.
This is undoubtedly the avenue by which the British possessions may be most effectually assailed; while, at the same time, it would afford to the enemy possessing a naval ascendancy equal facilities for bringing the war within our own borders if it be left unfortified. It therefore becomes important to fortify a point as near the line as practicable, so as to shut out the enemy's vessels, and thus effect the double object of protecting the interior shores
of the lake from the predatory attacks to which they would other-
11. Barrack establishment and depot at Plattsburg.-In the event of war, Plattsburg will become the great depot for the operations on the Champlain frontier, the point of concentration of troops preparatory to any offensive movements, and the station of the reserve to sustain those movements, and the posts that may be established in advance. Even in time of peace a respectable force should be posted here, especially during the continuance of the boundary question and border disturbances. Barracks for a regiment, at least, with suitable storehouses, are recommended to be erected, on a plan admitting of extension, if required, and also of suitable defensive arrangements.
Estimated expense of completing the works in progress on the scale here suggested...
12. From Lake Champlain, eastward, the geographical features of the frontier materially change character, and require a corresponding modification of the means of defence. The line no longer intersects great lakes, admitting of naval preparations, nor binds on straits and rivers, the navigation of which may be controlled or interrupted by fortifications. It is altogether inland until it reaches the St. Croix, where the principles that have been applied to other portions of the frontier similarly situated will again become applicable. Running on a parallel of latitude to the Connecticut river, and thence along a chain of highlands, not yet clearly defined, to the Province of New Brunswick, the board are not aware that there are any points immediately on the frontier sufficiently commanding, of themselves, to call for the establishment and maintenance of fortifications or works of defence.
Should it ever become necessary to sustain by force our title to the territory now in dispute, it must be done, not by isolated forts along the frontier, commanding, probably, nothing beyond the range of their own guns, but by an active army, competent not only to occupy the country and hold it, but also to assume the offensive, if necessary, and carry the war beyond our borders.
But while it is not deemed expedient to construct a chain of forts along this portion of the frontier, the board consider it a proper measure of precaution, in the present state of our relations with the British provinces, that positions should be selected and preparatory arrangements made for the establishment of depots of supplies at the head of navigation on the Kennebunk and Penobscot. In the event of movements in that quarter, these would be proper points for the concentration of troops, and would serve as a base of operations, whether these should be offensive or defensive in their character.
Estimated expense of storehouses and other accommodations..
13. Fort at Calais, on the St. Croix river.-A work here, while it will serve to cover that part of the State of Maine from the attacks to which it would otherwise be exposed, may, from its advanced position, be made to act an important though indirect part in the defence of the more northern portion of the frontier. Calais appears to be a very eligible point for the concentration of troops with reference to existing circumstances. A strong force stationed here, threatening the enemy's posts on the lower St. John's, and held ready to strike in that direction in case of movements from New Brunswick towards the disputed territory, could not fail to have a decisive influence on such movements; since it is obvious that they could not be made with safety while exposed to attack in flank and rear, and to have their line of communication intercepted and their depots seized, by a prompt movement on our part from the St. Croix.
Estimated expense of fort and barracks...
14. In reference to the northern frontier generally, it is the decided opinion of the board that, besides the defences which have been suggested along the border, chiefly for purposes of local protection, there should be a great central station at some position in the interior at which troops might be assembled for instruction, and where they would still be within supporting distance of the more exposed parts of the frontier.
Turning our views inland in search of some single position at which preparations might be made for extended operations on this frontier, and from which aid and succor could always be speedily derived, some position which, while it shall be equally near to many important points of the enemy's possessions, shall afford at no time any indication of the direction in which our efforts are to be made; which will, if it be possible, unite the opposite qualities of being at the same time remote and proximate far as to distance, but near as to time; which, while it brings a portion of the military resources of the country to the support of the inland frontier, and places them in the best attitude for operations in that quarter, whether defensive or offensive, at the same time takes them not away from the sea-coast. Looking for these various properties, we find them all united in a remarkable degree in the position of Albany.
From this place, by steamboat, canal boat, or railroad car, troops and munitions could be transported in a short time to Buffalo, or onward to Detroit, to Oswego, to Sackett's Harbor, to Plattsburg, to Boston, and along the coast of New England; to New York by steamboat now, and soon by railroad also; and thence onward to Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, and the heart of the southern country if necessary. In a word, Albany is a great central position, from which radiate the principal lines of communication to the north, to the south, to the east, and to the west; and combines so many advantages for a military depot that the expediency of occupying it and thus availing ourselves of those advantages would seem to be manifest.
Estimated expense of the purchase of land, and the construction of barracks and other buildings.
Total for northern frontier...
2, 160, 000
The board beg leave to obserye, in conclusion, that, in the preparation of the estimates submitted, they have not attempted to aim at precision. Hence the amounts stated for the various objects are to be regarded only as approximations. They could not be anything more, on the data used, which, for want of minute surveys and reconnoissances, were necessarily vague. It is believed, however, that the results presented will be found sufficiently accurate for the general purposes contemplated by the resolution under which this report has been prepared. For the board,
JOS. G. TOTTEN,
Colonel of Engineers.