« AnteriorContinua »
vere in the construction of costly forts, with the vain hope of protecting our seaports against fleets propelled" by steam power, without the employment of floating batteries, such as are here recommended, with railroads to sustain them by timely reinforcements.
5. But it has been contended by men of high pretensions in theory, if not in the practical science of war, that, in place of the floating batteries here proposed as means of harbor defence, we should direct our attention mainly to the construction of steamships of war. In reply to this theoretical suggestion, it is only necessary to say that we must, indeed, ultimately have steamships of war, or we must give up the whole of our foreign commerce; but, if we desire to preserve our seaports and commercial emporiums, we must have for their protection floating batteries, which constitute, in the present state of the arts, the natural link in the great chain of national defence between the land and naval means of service; and, as these floating batteries are not designed for going to sea, (excepting near our ports and harbors in calm weather, they properly belong to the land service. The fact that our seaports are rendered more than ever liable to sudden and unlooked for attacks by fleets propelled by steam power, renders it all-important to their security that our means of harbor defence should never, even for a single day, be left exposed to an assault, when that assault may, in all human probability, result in the destruction of one of our most vital points of military and commercial operations. If, however, steamships of war should be preferred to the proposed floating batteries, a solemn act of Congress should be passed, forbidding any officer from removing them beyond the immediate vicinity of the harbor to which they may be assigned; as it must be obvious that our seaports cannot be protected without every requisite means of protection is held ready for action within our harbors, respectively. The floating batteries, it is believed, will cost but little more than the timber, iron, copper, and other materials for their construction, if they are built, as they should be, by the troops intended to defend them, aided by some ship-carpenters to give them tight bottoms.
6. With three to five of the proposed floating batteries placed in the form of a crescent across the Mississippi river, with the concave side of the crescent down the river, and this curved line of floating batteries flanked by a small temporary fort on each bank of the river, so as to bring the cannon of each fort or battery to bear on any fleet or vessel ascending the river from the sea, we should be certain thus to give each of the enemy's leading vessels a double cross-fire-raking them in front and on each side at one and the same time, with several of our heavy guns from each one of our floating batteries and adjacent forts, with red-hot shot-a description of defence which would to a certainty, in 99 cases out of 100, be fatal to any fleet that could possibly be brought against our line of batteries. But, “ to make assurance doubly sure,” we could have our floating batteries occasionally connected together by chain cables and chevaux-de-frise, which might sometimes bring us in close contact with a daring foe, as Nelson or our own Decatur and Perry were in the mode of attack which characterized those chivalric naval commanders. But the contact thus produced would insure to us the moral and physical effect of our efforts being in selfdefence, with the superior strength of our batteries, bulwarks, and weight of metal—advantages which we should enjoy from the moment the invading foe comes within the range of our long and heavy cannon, until he finds himself entangled in, and arrested by, our cheraux-de-frise, where the contact would be so close as to enable us to throw into his ships hand grenades and incendiary shells, with an occasional supply of heated steam; while our own batteries would be preserved from a similar annoyance by their superior width, strength, and peculiar structure of their upper works, which are proposed to be secured by sheet-iron of immense thickness; a description of work which it is believed could not be so effectually applied to vessels of anything like the ordinary model of ships-of-war designed for sea service.
But again: “to make assurance doubly sure,” we should not risk such places as New York and New Orleans—by far the most vital, and in a civil and (the latter more especially) in a military point of view, the most important seaports in America—without at least two curved lines of defence—one at or near the entrance of the harbor, and the other at the next narrow, strong, interior point, fortified as above suggested, with the curved line of floating batteries flanked by a fort on each side of the river or channel; for example, for the harbor of New York, the Narrows ; and for the Mississippi, Forts Jackson and St. Philip.
7. Floating batteries, such as are here proposed, constitute the only effective means of defence against fleets propelled by steam power, in a nation situated as the United States are, covering a large extent of country, bordered by a seaboard of near 4,000 miles in extent, indented by many fine seaports,
great cities filled with the wealth of a lucrative commerce with every quarter of the globe, together with our own agricultural products, fully capable of sustaining our expansive commerce, until it surpasses that of any other part of the globe: provided we take care to maintain an attitude of honest defiance towards the licensed as well as the unlicensed pirates of every quarter of the world, by which they will clearly understand that we desire to be at peace, to do equal and impartial justice to all nations, and to engage in entangling alliances with none; and above all, if we are attacked, we should be prepared speedily to concentrate at the point of attack sufficient force and supplies to overwhelm the invader with irretrievable defeat before he will have it in his power to destroy any of our means of defence, or our seaport towns. Our lawless neighbors will thus be taught that if they attack us they do it at their peril, and at the risk of leaving their armies to enrich our plantations,
8. So much for their uses in a state of war; then, on the return of peace, when the most expensive fixed fortifications are absolutely useless, and, moreover, a heavy burden to the country to keep them in repair, floating batteries will be usefully employed as barracks and hospitals, and in deepening the channels, liable to be filled up by clay, and loam, and sand, as those at the mouth of the Mississippi river are often filled up. As floating barracks and hospitals, the proposed batteries would be of essential benefit to the service everywhere, inasmuch as the outlets of our rivers and seaports are generally healthy positions ; and they will form the most appropriate asylums for our convalescent or slightly disabled soldiers or seamen, most of whom will render essential service in preparing fixed ammunition, and in the instruction of the young and inexperienced, and in holding them ready for action. Above all, in a state of peace the
proposed floating batteries will be of immense utility to the service for all purposes of military schools, to which the aspiring youth of our country of the community will gladly repair, for the attainment of military knowledge, where it can be acquired both in theory and in practice, and where its study and practice will be rendered most delightful and praiseworthy by the simple process of the students rendering immediate and important public service in return for the publie instruction received by them. The military education of our youth should commence at the age of sixteen, and be completed at the age of twenty-one or twenty-two. If our youth are educated upon floating batteries at the entrance of our harbors, near the Balize, Sandy Hook, or the Narrows; otherwise, if the youth of each Atlantic or southern State are educated at the entrance of the principal seaport of such State, the graduate, after finishing his education, would have the proud satisfaction of exhibiting to his parents or guardian, on his return home, the gratifying evidence of his having performed five years' honorable service, while acquiring attainments qualifying him for a high, perhaps the highest, command in the army; attainments, too, tending to qualify him in no small degree for the highest stations recognized by the free institutions of our country, and exonerating him forever after from any other than mere voluntary service.
H. Rep. Com. 86—16
9. Shall we be told by the advocates of our obsolete systems of national defence that the risk of health and comfort is too great to have the youth of our country educated upon our floating batteries at the entrance of our harbors, or at the mouths of our rivers, where the swell of the sea and the turbid waters of our overflowing Mississippi and other rivers may too sensibly affect the nerves and disturb the meditations of the students on whom the defence and fate of the republic must soon depend? Will our opponents point to the United States Military Academy, and contend that the graduates of that institution are the better for the serene stillness, quiet, and comfort of the interior position of that institution? We may answer, no! no! The only great defect to be found in that institution consists in the quiet and almost exclusively sedentary mode of living which has long marked the character of that otherwise admirable institution; a mode of living which contributes too much to sacrifice the vigor of constitution necessary to a real hard-duty soldier, to the attainment of that literature and science, with the social habits and enjoyments more befitting a country gentleman of affluent fortune, than a thoroughbred soldier, statesman, or man of business :
“The life of fame is ACTION understood;
That action must be virtuous, great and good." Habits of action, of mind and body, should be formed in childhood, or at least before the seal of manhood is fixed upon the student. Why is the seaman placed on duty on board the ship-of-war at the age of twelve to sixteen, and required to perform his practical labors from the moment he takes his first les. sons in the theoretical duties of his profession? It is to facilitate his attainments of both in the shortest possible time, and to the greatest possible extent of perfection. His health and habits are perfected upon the precise element, and in exposures to the climates and weather, to which his duties will call him, and often confine him during a state of war. Why is the law student required to attend the courts, and the medical student the hospitals, while attending to the theory of the profession? It is because, even in these learned professions, where much more depends upon books, or theory, than in the profession of arms, all experienced men unite in the opinion that great benefit to the student results from combining practice with theory. The watchmaker, shoemaker, carpenter, and blacksmith, always put their students or apprentices to work at the earliest possible period of their instruction; often, indeed, before they are able to wield many of the tools of their trade. With these facts before our eyes, added to the custom which has obtained in many of the enlightened States of Europe, and which we are apparently disposed to rivet upon our own land of freedom and invention, it would seem impossible to resist the conviction that the science of war is indeed in its infancy. Of all the sciences and arts, there are none where the union of theory and practice, in all the duties of preparation for the great dernier results, are so much altogether necessary and proper, as in the seience of war and the duties of an army; and yet, wonderful to tell, there is no trade or profession, reduced to separate and distinct rules of science and art, in which theory is so much relied on, or practice so much neglected, as in the art of war, as it regards military operations on land, or in the attack and defence of seaports.
Årt. II. So much for floating batteries, and their uses in peace and in war. Let us now proceed to consider the all-important kindred measure of railroads for co-operating with the proposed floating batteries, and perfecting the promised system of national defence.
10. We propose the immediate location and construction of seven railroads, to extend from the two central States of Tennessee and Kentucky to the seven grand divisions of the national frontier, as suggested by a plan embraced in the accompanying diagram, viz :
First. One principal railroad from Lexington, Kentucky, to Buffalo or Plattsburg, New York, with branches to Detroit, Albany, and Boston.
Second. One principal railroad from Knoxville, 'l'ennessee, to Norfolk, Virginia, or Baltimore, Maryland, with branches to Richmond, Virginia, and Newbern, North Carolina.
Third. One principal railroad from Memphis, Tennessee, to Charleston, South Carolina, or Savannah, Georgia, with branches to Milledgeville, Georgia, and East Florida.
Fourth. One principal railroad from Louisville, Kentucky, to Mobile, Alabama, with a branch to Pensacola, Florida.
Fifth. One principal railroad from Lexington, Kentucky, via Nashville, to New Orleans.
Sixth. One principal railroad from Memphis, Tennessee, to the Sabine ridge, with branches to Fort Towson and Fort Gibson, Arkansas.
Seventh. One principal railroad from Louisville, Kentucky, or Albany, Indiana, to St. Louis, Missouri, and thence to the Missouri river, north of the mouth of the Big Platte; with branches from Albany, Indiana, to Chicago, and from the northwest angle of the State of Missouri to the upper crossing of the river Des Moines.
11. These seven great arteries or principal railroads here enumerated will each be from 500 to 700 miles in length, (averaging 600 miles,) making altogether a distance of 4,200 miles; and the average cost of locating and constructing them is estimated at $15,000 per mile; amounting, altogether, to the sum of 864,000,000, provided they are located and constructed by the army of the United States—the railroads to be of the most substantial kind, each having a double track. The whole work to be completed by the authority and at the expense of the United States; provided that, on its final completion, it shall revert to the States, in their sovereign and individual capacity; each State to retain forever the right of property in and to all of such section or sections of the said railroads, with all their appurtenances, lying or being within the territorial limits of such States, respectively, upon the simple condition that all troops, whether regulars or volunteers, in the service of the United States, with their munitions of war, together with the mail, shall be transported forever upon
these railroads free of expense to the United States.
12. Without attempting to enumerate all the benefits to be derived from the proposed railroads in peace as well as in war-benefits which are for the most part too generally known to require any particular notice here, (and others, certainly of very great value, can only be conjectured, inasmuch as they are to some extent invisible, and to be developed, principally, it is believed, by the excavations necessary to complete the graduation of the basis of the work through the vast regions of mineral wealth over which its various lines will extend, where accident has hitherto led to the discovery of a sprinkling of gold, with millions of acres of the richest iron and lead ore and coal, together with copper and other valuable minerals,) your memorialist will here concisely advert to the principal benefits which the military aspect of the proposed work promises, and conclude with a notice of such advantages as must immediately result to the army, to the sereral States, and the Union, from the organization and employment of the national regulars and volunteers as operatives upon the work.
13. The principal advantages to be derived from the proposed railroads in a military point of view.
In a state of war they will enable us to transport the military men and munitions of war of the two central States of the Union, and of all the interior districts of the twenty-four border States, to the seven grand divisions of the national frontier, without animal power, in one-tenth part of the time, and at one-tenth part of the expense that the movement would cost in the present state of our bad roads. The proposed railroads would thus enable us to obtain more useful service in war from ten thousand men, by the increased rapidity and safety of their movement to the point of attack chosen by the invading foe, than without railroads we could obtain from an army of one hundred thousand men marched upon our common roads; as, in addition to the saving of time, which in war is power, and health, and life, and money, we shall save our citizen soldiers from what they usually deem the most irksome and insupportable afflictions and privations attending their tours of military service; we shall save them from long and tedious marches, and from the still more trying scenes of a longcontinued delay in camp, and the consequent painful separation from wife, children, friends, and business. On the contrary, after being assembled and prepared for action, we shall fly to meet the invading foe at the rate of 250 or 300 miles in 24 hours—taking with us every desirable necessary of life for the preservation of health, activity, and personal prowess, so that when we meet the enemy we shall enjoy every desirable advantage in every conflict, in most of which we cannot but be successful; and in place of the usual campaign of three, six, or twelve months of distressing service, we may reasonably calculate on being conveyed, with every desirable supply from the central States to the frontier, in the short space of fifty or siz ty hours' time, and of meeting and beating the invading foe, and returning to our homes in a few days, or at most a few weeks more.
Hence the great utility of the proposed railroads in a state of war; and then, on the return of peace, when our sixty millions of dollars worth of fortifications, and armories, and arsenals, and ships-of-war, are worse than useless for any of the purposes of peace, and a great and constant expense to repair and replenish them in order to hold them ready for another war; then our railroads, taking, as they must take, precisely the direction that the commerce of our country takes, from the seaboard to the central western States, will, when turned to commercial purposes, produce a revenue to the States that own them that will be more than sufficient to replace, in seven years' time, every dollar expended in their construction, and forever thereafter produce a revenue sufficient for the support of all the State governments, and to pay for the education of every orphan child in America. The proposed railroads will do more—they will form ligaments of union more powerful than bulwarks of adamant, or chains of iron or gold, to bind the States together in perpetual union. In designating the military men of the central States of Tennessee and Kentucky as the disposable force of the nation, we have reference to the fact that this force is rendered disposable by the central position of these two States --they having no frontier to defend; while the forces of all the other twentyfour States are rendered local forces, and not disposable, by reason of their being all border States—the boundary of each extending to the frontier; and, therefore, having no frontier of their own to defend, they are thus rendered local, not disposable.
14. Organization of the regular forces and operatives to be intrusted with the location and construction of the work.
One major general; one adjutant general, with seven assistants; two brigadier generals; seven surgeons, with twenty-eight assistant surgeons; and twentyeight chief artificers or scientific mechanics; seven regiments, each regiment to consist of one colonel, two lieutenant colonels, four majors, one adjutant, and one quartermaster, two sergeant majors, and two quartermaster sergeants, with ten companies; each company to consist of one captain, two first lieutenants, two second lieutenants, and two cadets, with one quartermaster sergeant, one orderly sergeant, four sergeants, four corporals, two musicians, ten artificers, and eighty private soldiers. The general, field, and staff officers, with the captains and first lieutenants, to be taken from the officers of the engineers, topographical engineers, artillery, and infantry now in service; officers of established reputa