Imatges de pÓgina

and moment, in spite of weather and seasons ; to see him in spite of fogs and darkness.

* Finally, after all the devices and reliances of the system are satisfactorily accomplished, and all difficulties subdued, it submits to the issue of a single battle, on equal terms, the fate of the war, having no hope or resource beyond.

“ The proper duty of our navy is, not coast or river defence; it has a more glorious sphere—that of the offensive. In our last war, instead of lying in harbor and contenting themselves with keeping a few more of the enemy's vessels in watch over them than their own number—instead of leaving the enemy's commerce in undisturbed enjoyment of the sea, and our commerce without countenance or aid—they scattered themselves over the wide surface of the ocean, penetrated to the most remote seas, everywhere acting with the most brilliant success against the enemy's navigation. And we believe, moreover, that in the amount of enemy's property thus destroyed, of American property protected or recovered, and in the number of hostile ships kept in pursuit of our scattered vessels, ships evaded if superior, and beaten if equal—they rendered benefits a thousand-fold greater, to say nothing of the glory they acquired for the nation, and the character they imparted to it, than any that would have resulted from a state of passiveness within the harbors.

“ Confident that this is the true policy as regards the employment of the navy proper, we doubt not that it will in the future be acted on, as it has been in the past; and that the results, as regards both honor and advantage, will be expanded commensurately with its own enlargement.

" In order, however, that the navy may always assume and maintain that active and energetic deportment, in offensive operations, which is at the same time so consistent with its functions, and so consonant with its spirit, we have shown that it must not be occupied with mere coast defence.”

As there is but little probability that our naval power, no matter how great that power may be, will meet the enemy at sea in sufficient force to destroy any large and well-concerted expedition, we must prepare to meet him on the shore, and repel his attacks. To determine the best means of accomplishing this, let us consult past experience. We shall quote exclusively from English history, during the wars of the French revolution, inasmuch as the British navy was then the most powerful in the world, and their maritime descents are almost the only ones which have ever been attended with the least shadow of success.

In 1795, a maritime expedition was fitted out against Quiberon, at an expense of $8,000,000. This part of the coast had then a naval defence of near thirty sail, carrying about 1,600 guns. Lord Bridgeport attacked it with fourteen sail of the line, five frigates, and some smaller vessels, about 1,500 guns in all, captured a portion of the fleet, and forced the remainder to seek shelter under the guns of l'Orient. The naval defence being destroyed, the British entered Quiberon without opposition. This bay is said by Brenton, in his British Naval History, to be the finest on the coast of France, or perhaps in the world, for landing an army."

Besides the natural advantages of naval supplies, the inhabitants of the surrounding country were in open insurrection, ready to receive the invaders with open arms. The Chouans and Vendéans offered their co-operation, and a large body of royalists in the south of France were favorable to the enterprise. A body of 10,000 troops were landed, and arms and clothing furnished to as many more Chouan troops; but they failed in their attack upon St. Barbe; and General Hoche, from his intrenchments, with 7,000 men, held in check a body of 18,000, penned up without defences in the narrow peninsula. Re-enforced by a new debarkation, the allies again attempted to advance, but were soon defeated and nearly destroyed.

In 1799, the English and Russians made a descent upon Holland, with a fleet of fourteen ships of the line and ten frigates, carrying about 1,100 guns, and a great number of transports, with an army of 36,000 men. The first division was detained some two weeks off the coast by tempestuous weather, and the whole force landed in detachments at some days' interval. A considerable party of Orangemen favored the landing, and the Prince of Orange himself made à demonstration on the frontiers of Frise. The Dutch naval defences consisted of eight ships-of-the-line, three fifty-four gun ships, eight forty-eight, and eight smaller frigates, carrying in all about 1,200 guns; but this force contributed little or nothing to the defence, and soon hoisted the hostile flag. The defensive army was at first only 12,000 men, but the Republicans afterwards increased it to 22,000, and finally to 28,000 men. Several undecisive battles were fought, but the allies failed to get possession of a single strong place, and, after a loss of 6,000 men, were compelled to capitulate. Such,” says Alison, “was the disastrous issue of the greatest expedition which had yet sailed from the British harbors during the war."

In 1801, Nelson, with three ships-of-the-line, two frigates, and thirty-five smaller vessels and bombs, made a desperate attack upon the harbor of Boulonge, but was repulsed with severe loss.

Passing over some unimportant attacks, we come to the descent upon the Scheldt, or, as it is commonly called, the Walcheren expedition, in 1809. This expedition, though a failure, has often been referred to as proving the expediency of maritime descents, and the ease with which naval forces can sail past fortifications, or reduce them to silence. The following is a brief narrative of the expedition :

Napoleon had planned, for the protection of a maritime force in the Scheldt, the construction of vast fortifications, dock yards, and naval arsenals at Flushing and Antwerp—the former at the mouth of the Scheldt, and the latter sixty or seventy miles further up the river. The plan was scarcely commenced, when the English attempted to seize upon the defences and capture or destroy the naval force. Flushing was but ill secured, and Antwerp was at this time entirely defenceless. The rampart was unarmed with cannon, dilapidated, and tottering, and its garrison consisted of only about 200 invalids and recruits. Napoleon's regular army was employed on the Danube and in the Peninsula. The attacking force consisted of 37 ships-of-the-line, 23 frigates, 33 sloops of war, 28 gun, mortar, and bomb vessels. 36 smaller vessels, and 87 gunboats, and innumerable transports, with over 40,000 troops, and an immense artillery train; making in all, says Alison, “an hundred thousand combatants.” The land force alone was nearly equal to the army of Wellington at Waterloo. A landing was made upon the island of Walcheren, and siege laid to Flushing, which surrendered eighteen days after the landing, and two days after the opening of the siege batteries. These batteries were armed with fifty-two heavy guns; the attack upon the water front was made by seven or eight ships-of-the-line and a large flotilla of bomb vessels. The channel at the mouth of the river was too broad to be defended by Flushing, and the main portion of the fleet passed out of reach of the guns, and ascended the Scheldt. Twenty-eight days after the first disembarkation the headquarters had advanced about half way to Antwerp; but this place was now repaired; the French and Dutch fleets (which, on the arrival of the English, were off the mouth of the river as a home squadron) had been removed above the city for safety, and a land army assembled in large numbers. The English gradually retired, and finally evacuated their entire conquest. The cost of the expedition was immense, both in treasure and in life. It was certainly very poorly managed; but we cannot help here noticing the superior value of fortifications as a defence against such descents. They did much to retard the operations of the enemy till a defensive army could be raised; the works of Flushing were never intended to close up the channel of the Scheldt, and of course could not intercept the passage of shipping. But they were not reduced

gun, when

by a naval force as has sometimes been alleged. Colonel Mitchel says, that the fleet“ kept up so tremendous a fire upon the batteries that the French officers, who had been present at Austerlitz and Jena, declared, que la cannonade in these battles had been a mere jeu d'enfans in comparison. Yet, what was the effect produced on the defences of the place by this fire, so formidable, to judge by the sound alone? The writer can answer the question with some accuracy, for he went along the entire sea line the very day after the capitulation and found no part of the parapet injured so as to be of the slightest consequence, and only one solitary gun dismounted, evidently by the bursting of a shell, and which could not, of course, have been thrown from the line-of-battle-ships, but must have been thrown from the land batteries."

We have now shown that a naval force cannot be relied on as the sole means of securing a coast from naval attacks; that maritime descents must in general be limited to striking some sudden blow upon an unprotected point; and that fortifications and land forces are the best means of warding off these descents.

Before examining the questionof relative cost of forts and ships, we will pass to the consideration of the question of their relative power, gun

for actually brought into contact.

It must be remembered that this question does not at all involve the expediency of supporting navies and batteries. Both must be supported; for neither can perform the duties of the other, no matter how strong it may be.

Let us suppose a fair trial of this relative strength. The fort is to be properly constructed and in good repair ; its guns in a position to be used with effect; its garrison skilful and efficient; its commander capable and brave. The ship is of the very best character, and in perfect order; the crew disciplined and courageous; its commander skilful and adroit; the wind, tide, and sea, all as could be desired.* The numbers of the garrison and crew are to be no more than requisite, with no unnecessary exposure of human life to swell the list of the slain. The issue of this contest, unlesss attended with extraordinary and easily distinguishable circumstances, would be a fair test of their relative strength.

What result should we anticipate, from the nature of the contending forces ? The ship, under the circumstances we have supposed, can choose her point of attack, selecting the one she may deem the most vulnerable; but she herself is everywhere vulnerable; her men and guns are much concentrated, and consequently much exposed.

But in the fort, “it is only the gun, a small part of the carriage, and now or then a head or an arm raised above the parapet, that can be hurt; the ratio of the exposed surfaces being not less than fifteen or twenty to one. Next, there is always more or less motion in the water, so that the ship's gun, although it may have been pointed accurately at one moment, at the next will be thrown entirely away from its object, even when the motion of the ship is too small to be otherwise noticed ; whereas in the battery the gun will be fired just as it is pointed, and the motion of the ship will merely vary to the extent of a few inches, or at most two or three feet, from the spot in which the shot is to be received. In the ship, there are, besides, many points exposed that may be called vital points. By losing her rudder, or portions of her rigging, or of her spars, she may become unmanageable and unable to use her strength; she may receive shots under water and be liable to sink ; she may receive hot shot and be set on fire. These damages are in addition to those of having her guns dismounted and her people killed by the shots that pierce her sides, and scatter splinters from ber timbers—while the risks of the battery are confined to those mentioned above, namely, the risk that the gun, the carriage, or the men may be struck.”

The opinions of military writers and the facts of history fully accord with

These conditions for the battery are easily satisfied ; but for the ship, are partly dependent on the elements, and seldom to be wholly obtained.

these deductions of theory. Some few individuals, mistaking or misstating the facts of a few recent trials, assert that modern improvements in the naval service have so far outstripped the progress in the art of land defence that a floating force is now abundantly able to cope, upon equal terms, with a land battery. Ignorant and superficial persons, hearing merely that certain forts had recently yielded to a naval force, and taking no trouble to learn the real facts of the case, have paraded them before the public as proofs positive of a new era in inilitary science. This conclusion, however groundless and absurd, has received credit with us merely from its novelty. The Americans are often attracted by what is new and plausible; old theories and established principles are frequently regarded so much the less for their antiquity, notwithstanding the proofs and arguments which time has thrown around them.

In the Apalachicola document are embodied many crudities long since repudiated in the theories and banished from the practice of the old world.

The report consists of three or four pages of a survey of the bays of Apa. lachicola, St. Joseph's, St. Andrew's, Ship island, and Tampa, and 30 pages of an attempt to prove the worthlessness of fortifications and the superior efficiency of naval defences. We shall comment only upon the propositions contained in this portion of the document, viz: “That whatever policy we adopt must and ought to be nearly exclusive in its application ;” “that our defensive policy should be by naval means; ' " that the system of fortifications recommended by Mr. Poinsett in 1839, and by Mr. Bell and Mr. Spencer in 1841, is intended to lay the foundation of a great military power, to cover the country with castles, · dangerous to freedom,' but utterly worthless in defence; " " that fortifications are useless, nay, dangerous without an army educated to defend them, and of competent numbers ; ” “ that for the true interests of the country, it had been better that we had never known this system, and that the further prosecution of it should be abandoned ;' “ that we had better blow into air and leave in ruins, citadels which command our cities with their guns and control our harbors, that might and probably would be seized upon by an excited populace for lawless purposes ; " " that fortifications do not and cannot successfully resist the attacks of ships ;” and that “they must henceforth be constructed beyond the reach of fleets to be even secure.”

This report further says there is scarcely a port in the old or new world which has not been forcibly entered by hostile fleets and fallen before their broadsides ! In support of these broad assertions the following successful naval attacks are adduced, viz:

Jamaica in Cromwell's time, Rio Janeiro, Carthagena in 1565, (1585?] 1697, 1706, and 1741 ; Porto Bello in 1740, Guadaloupe in 1759 and 1794, Martinique, Havana, the Cape of Good Hope, Malta, Curaçoa, Chagres in 1841, Senegal and Mocha, Java, Sumatra, and “the rich city or Manilla," Madras, Calcutta, Pondicherry and Ceylon, Gibraltar, Copenhagen, Constantinople, Algiers, San Juan d'Ulloa, St. Jean d'Acre, Louisburg, Quebec, Red Hook, Washington and Baltimore, Charleston and Mobile.

Let us now examine these cases, and see if they authorize the inferences drawn from them by the report.

Jamaica, by a British fleet, in Cromwell's time.”—In the reduction of Jamaica in 1655, no trial of strength was made between the ships and forts; it was effected almost wholly by the army of General Venobles, which amounted to about 5,000 men. The defensive army was forced to capitulate and the principal place surrendered by treaty. So little assistance was rendered to the army by the fleet that one of the commissioners openly declared, “ he suspected they were betrayed.” And this same naval force of 30 ships, under Admirel Penn, also made an attack on Hispaniola, but after a contest of some two weeks, was repulsed with great loss.

"Rio Janeiro, taken by Duguy Truin, with a small fleet," fr.-Truin did

really sail into the harbor of Rio Janeiro in 1711, in spite of the little defences at the entrance, but that passage cost him the loss of 300 men out of his small fleet. He did not stop to test the question of strength, but sailed past with all possible speed. His troops were landed and batteries erected on shore, but neither soldiers nor inhabitants remained to fight, they had fled to the mountains.

Carthagena.-The taking of this place in 1585 was effected entirely by land troops. Î'he fleet merely acted as transports and took no part in the contest. The conquest of this place by the French in 1697 was also effected by land forces, the ships again acting merely as transports. The heavy train of land artilery made a breach in the walls of the town, through which the assault was made. The Carthagena taken in 1706 was the place of that name in old Spain, but this was an operation purely political, no defence whatever being made. In the words of Dr. Campbell, “ information being received that the inhabitants of Carthagena wished only for the presence of the [English] fleet and an opportunity of declaring for King Charles III, it was determined to steer thither.” • The fleet arrived on the 1st of June, and the conditions of surrender were finally settled on the following day."

The attack in 1741 was a total failure, though made with 30 ships-of-theline and numerous smaller vessels—124 sail in all, carrying 2,682 guns, 16,000 seamen and 12,000 troops. The defences of Carthagena consisted of 10 forts and batteries, 9 of which (the armament of the 10th not known) carried 222 guns of all calibres; but a part of this number of guns were too small to reach the ships at any considerable distance. Of these 9 forts, one (of 85 guns) was unfinished, two (together 71 guns) were blown up before attacked, and only a part of the guns were mounted in one of fascine batteries (of 15 guns.) Carthagena itself was armed with 160 guns, but the only attack made upon it was an experimental one by a floating battery. The several garrisons of these forts amounted to only 4,000 men. The siege continued forty days, when the British re-embarked their troops and retired with a severe loss. In the single attempt to take fort St. Lazar the loss amounted to over 600 men.

Carthagena had been bombarded in 1740, for three days, by a fleet of nine sail-of-the-line, carrying between five and six hundred guns, and near 4,000 men, but the forts were unharmed, and the bombardment “ had no other effect than that of terrifying the inhabitants and injuring some churches and convents.” The ships, however, were so much injured as to render it necessary for them to return to Porto Bello for repairs.

Porto Bello taken by Admiral Vernon in 1740.”—Vernon's fleet here consisted of six sail of the line, carrying 380 guns and 2,495 men, and a small land force. The attack was first made upon Fort Iron, which carried 78 guns and a lower battery of 22 guns; the garrison amounted to less than 300 men in all. It was begun by the Hampton Court, of 70 guns and 495 men, firing 400 balls in the first 25 minutes. The other ships soon followed, but their united efforts being unable to effect a breach in the walls of the fort, a body of sailors and soldiers were directed to attack it on the land side. These soldiers climbed into the embrasures on each other's shoulders, and reduced the garrison by a fire of musketry; those who capitulated being only 40 in number, including both officers and privates; the remainder had fled. Gloria Castle and the other battery in the further part of the harbor were neither of them attacked ; together they carried 120 guns in all and a garrison of 400 men. Dr. Campbell, in his British Naval History, says: “It must be confessed that the easy conquest of Admiral Vernon and his command is to be in part attributed to the cowardice of the Spaniards in surrendering the first fort before a breach was made, and the other two before they were attacked. Gloria Castle might have sustained a long siege, and the batteries in that and St. Jeronimo, if properly served, would have rendered the entrance into the harbor exceedingly dangerous, if not im

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