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attacking force—they will be equally exposed and combustible; and when overcome, all resistance ceases, and the success of the enemy will be complete.” Mr. Spencer says:
“While fortifications are more effectual for defence, in certain positions, than floating forces, they are less expensive in construction, more durable, and requiring an outlay in repairs utterly insignificant when compared with the expense of maintaining ships and renewing them. They are indispensable for the purposes of covering the military and naval depots, and all other public or private establishments which would incite the enterprise or the cupidity of a foe, and excluding him from strong positions, where his naval superiority might enable him to maintain himself, and from which he might make incursions into the interior, or assail an extensive line of coast."
We have already alluded to the remarks of the Apalachicola report on the relative cost of ships and forts, and the economy of their support. We do not regard this question of relative cost a matter of any great importance, for it can seldom be decisive in the choice of these two means of defence. No matter what their relative cost may be, the one cannot often be substituted for the other. There are some few cases, however, where this might be taken into consideration, and would be decisive. Let us endeavor to illustrate our meaning. For the defence of New York city, the Narrows and East river must be secured by forts; ships cannot, in this case, be substituted. But let us suppose that the outer harbor of New York furnishes no favorable place for the debarkation of 1. vops, or that the place of debarkation is so far distant that the troops cannot reach the city before the defensive forces can be prepared to repel them. This harbor would be of great importance to the enemy as a shelter from storms, and as a place of debarkation or of rendezvous preparatory to a forcible passage of the Narrows; while to us its possession would not be absolutely essential, though very important. A strong fortification on Sandy Hook might probably be so constructed as to furnish a pretty sure barrier to the entrance of this outer harbor ; on the other hand, a naval force stationed within the inner harbor, and acting under the protection of forts at the Narrows, might also furnish a good though perhaps less certain protection for this outer roadstead. Here, then, we might well consider the question of relative cost and economy of support of the proposed fortification on Sandy Hook, and of a home squadron large enough to effect the same object and to be kept continually at home for that special purpose. If we were to allow it to go to sea for the protection of our commerce its character and efficiency as a harbor defence would be lost. We can therefore regard it only as a local force-fixed within the limits of the defence of this particular place—and our estimates must be made accordingly.
The average durability of ships-of-war in the British navy has been variously stated at 7 and 8 years in time of war, and from 10 to 12 and 14 years in time of peace. Mr. Perring, in his “Brief Inquiry,” published in 1812, estimates this average durability at about 8 years. His calculations seem based upon authentic information. A distinguished English writer has more recently arrived at the same result from estimates based upon the returns of the Board of Admiralty during the period of the wars of the French revolution. The data in our own possession are less complete, the appropriations for building and repairing having heen so expended as to render it impossible to draw an accurate line of distinction. But in the returns now before us there are generally separate and distinct accounts of the timbers used for these two purposes; and consequently, so far as this (the main item of expense) is concerned, we may form pretty accurate comparisons.
According to Edge, (pp. 20, 21,) the average cost of timber for hulls, masts, and yards in building an English 74-gun ship is £61,382. Let us now compare this cost of timber for building with that of the same item in repairs for the following 15 ships, between 1800 and 1820. The list would have been still
further enlarged, but the returns for other ships during some portion of the above period are imperfect: Name of ship. No. of guns. When built. Repaired from
1800 to 1807 £84, 720 Ildefonso
1807 to 1808 85, 195 Scipio....
1807 to 1809 Tremendous
1807 to 1810 135, 397 Elephant
1808 to 1811 67,007 Spencer
1800 1809 to 1813 124, 186 Romulus.
1810 to 1812 73, 141 Albion
1802 1810 to 1813 102, 295 Donegal
1812 to 1815 101,367 Implacable.
1813 to 1815 59,865 Illustrius
74, 184 Nortbumberland.
1814 to 1816
1814 to 1818 88, 357 Sultan
61,518 Sterling Castle.
1816 to 1818
65, 2801 This table, although incomplete, gives for the above 15 ships, during a period of less than 20 years, the cost of timber alone, used in their repair, an average of about $400,000 each. More timber than this was used, in all probability, upon the same vessels, and paid for out of the funds appropriated " for such ships as may be ordered in the course of the year to be repaired.” But the amount specifically appropriated for timber for these 15 ships would, in every 12 or 15 years, equal the entire first cost of the same items. If we were to add to this amount the cost of labor required in the application of the timber to the operations of repair, and take into consideration the expense of other materials and labor, and the decayed condition of many of the ships at the end of this period, we should not be surprised to find the whole sum expended under these heads to equal the first cost, even within the minimum estimate of seven years. The whole cost of timber used for hulls, masts, and yards, in building, between 1800 and 1820, was £18,727,551 ; in repairs and “ordinary wear and tear,” £17,449,780; making an annual average of $45,601,589 for building timber, and 842,733,714 for that used in repairs. A large portion of the vessels built were intended to replace others which had been lost, or were so decayed as to be broken up.
But it may be well to add here the actual supplies voted for the sea service, and for the wear and tear, and the extraordinary expenses in building and repairing of ships from 1800 to 1815:
For the wear and | Extraordinary ex- For entire seu serYear
tear of ships. penses in building. vice.
1800.. 1801 1802. 1803. 1804 1-05 1806. 1807 1808 1809. 1810. 1811. 1812. 1813. 1814. 1815.
£13, 619, 079
16, 577, 037 11,833, 571 10, 211,378 12, 350, 606 15,035, 630 18,864, 341 17,400, 337 18,087,544 19,578,467 1%, 975, 120 19,822,000 19, 305, 759 20,096,709 19, 312,070 19,032, 700
It appears from this table that the appropriations for the sea service during the first 15 years of the present century amounted to a little less than ninety millions of dollars per annum, and for the wear and tear of ships and the extraordinary expenses in building and repairing of ships, &c.," the annual appropriations amounted to thirty millions of dollars.
Our own naval returns are also so imperfect that it is impossible to form any very accurate estimate of the relative cost of construction and repairs of our men-of-war. The following table, compiled from a report of the Secretary of the Navy in 1841, (Senate Document No. 223, 26th Congress,) will afford data for an approximate calculation:
It appears from the above table that the cost of constructing ships-of-the-line is about $6,600 per gun; of frigates, $6,500 per gun; of smaller vessels-of-war, a little less than $5,000 per gun. The cost of our war steamers (the Fulton, 4 guns, built in 1838–39, cost $333,770 77; the Mississippi and Missouri, 10 guns each, built in 1841, cost about $600,000 apiecef) is over $60,000 per gun!
It is obvious, from the nature of the materials of which forts are constructed, that the cost of the support must be inconsiderable. It is true that for some years past a large item in annual expenditures for fortifications has been under the head of “repairs." Much of this sum is for alterations and enlargements of temporary and inefficient works, erected interior to and during the war of 1812. Some of it, however, has been for actual repairs of decayed or injured portions of the forts; these injuries resulting from the nature of the climate, the foundations, the use of poor materials and poor workmanship, and from neglect and abandonment. But if we include the risk of abandonment at times, it is estimated, upon data drawn from past experience, that one-third of me per rent. per annum of the first cost will keep in perfect repair any of our forts that have been constructed since the last war; whereas the cost of repairs for our men-of-war is more than seven per cent. per annum on the first cost of the ships. The cost of steamships will be still more; but we have not yet had sufficient experience to determine the exact amount. But the cost of running them is so great that the Secretary of the Navy, in his last annual report, says: “Their engines consume so much fuel as to add enormously to their expenses; and the necessity that they should return to port after short intervals of time for fresh supplies renders it impossible to send them on any distant service. They cannot be relied on as cruisers, and are altogether too expensive for service in time of peace. I have therefore determined to take them out of commission and substitute for them other and less expensive vessels."
• Returns incomplete. † Broken up in 1840.
| By the returns in the Navy Department up to December 31, 1841, $553, R50 32 had been expended on the Mississippi, and $519,032 57 on the Missouri ; but all the returbs had not then come in. The entire cost of construction and modification of these steamers, to fit them for service, differs but little from their estimated cost of $600,000 apiece.
On this question of relative cost, we add the following extract from the report of Mr. Bell in 1841:
" The relative expense of guns in forts and on board ships-of-war or floating batteries is strikingly disproportionate. The most favorable estimate will show that guns afloat will cost, upon an average, a third more than the cost of guns in forts. Well-constructed forts, bearing any number of guns, may be erected at less than half the amount required to build good steam batteries bearing the same number of guns. The steamships now on the stocks at New York and Philadelphia, 1,700 tons burden, and designed to carry only eight guns each, it is estimated will cost $600,000 each. A floating battery of the largest class contemplated by a distinguished advocate for that mode of harbor defence, carrying two hundred guns, with its tow-boats, it is estimated cannot cost less than 81,400,000; and the smallest, carrying one hundred and twenty guns, not less than $700,000. A ship-of-the-line carrying eighty guns it is estimated will cost, without her armament, $500,000. Fort Adams is constructed for four hundred and fifty-eight guns; when finished will have cost $1,400,000. Forts are built of solid and of the most part of imperishable materials. By proper care and a small annual expenditure for repairs they will last and be available for centuries; while the cost of the repairs that ships-of-war and floating batteries will require in every twelve or fifteen years will equal the cost of the original construction. In other words, in respect to the expense, vessels-of-war and floating batteries will require to be reconstructed every twelve or fifteen years. The injury done to fortifications in the most serious engagements can usually be repaired in a few days, or at most in a few weeks, while the damages to ships-ofwar and floating batteries in a similar engagement would require extensive repairs in every instance, and often render them unworthy of repair.
"Upon this data a satisfactory estimate may be made of the relative expense of the two modes of defending our principal harbors and naval depots. In presenting these views, I would not be understood by any means as disparaging the value and efficiency of war steamers and floating batteries when employed as an auxiliary force in any system of coast or harbor defence that may be adopted; nor is any idea entertained that they ought or can be altogether dispensed with."
It should be noticed that in the above report Mr. Bell not only attributes to our navy the entire defence of our shipping at sea, but also attaches importance to war steamers and floating batteries as an auxiliary force in any system of coast or harbor defence that may be adopted. We regret that the friendly feelings shown towards the naval service in the reports of Messrs. Poinsett, Bell, and Spencer, and of the board of officers on national defence, have not been reciprocated by the author of the Apalachicola report. That report is filled with sneers at the intelligence of the distinguished military officers of the board, and at the defensive system of the honorable Secretaries of War. It not only as. serts that our defensive policy should be nearly exclusively by naral means, but it charges upon one branch of our military service the secret design of foisting upon the country a large standing army and laying the foundation upon which a great military policy will be erected; it endeavors to prejudice this service in the public estimation by calling upon the country to be on its guard against these covert designs. It moreover charges that fortifications, in furnishing garrisons to the army, have, by their "corrupting influences,” so enervated that army and enfeebled its physical strength that it has perished “and melted away before the hardships of the first campaign within the boundaries of our own country.”
This is not the place to enter upon the defence of the Florida army, if such defence be now necessary; but we affirm that no body of men ever exhibited more universal bravery, courage, and constancy than was shown by our soldiers during the tedious and harassing operations of that war. Wherever the foe could be found he was met and conquered, no matter what his superiority in position or numbers. They showed no signs of being "enervated in spirit or enfeebled in physical strength," but they fought, and bled, and conquered, officers and men, side by side.
II. The Apalachicola report, after denouncing fortifications as utterly worthless as water defences, remarks that the sphere in which they can be of any use is in retarding the enemy's operations upon an inland frontier. “ But eren here," it says, “they have been assailed by the contempt of experienced soldiers ;" “ this system of fortifications is not the true defence of the country, and the further prosecution of it should be abandoned ;" our country should be relieved from the intolerable burden of defences by fortifications,” &c. It moreover indorses the opinion that we should “confine our preparations (for defence) to the maritime frontier, as the inland border needs none, and the lake shores under all circumstances would be under the dominion of the strongest fleet."
From the middle ages down to the period of the French revolution wars were carried on mainly by the system of positions—one party confining their operations to the security of certain important places while the other directed their attention to their siege and capture. But Carnot and Napoleon changed this system, at the same time with the system of tactics, or rather returned to the old and true principle of strategic operations. Some men, looking merely at the fact that a change was made, but without examining the character of that change, have rushed headlong to the conclusion that fortified places are now utterly useless in warfare, military success depending entirely upon a good system of marches. On this subject Jomini remarks that "we should depend entirely upon neither organized masses nor upon material obstacles, whether natural or artificial. To follow exclusively either of these systems would be equally absurd. The true science of war consists in choosing a just medium between the two extremes. The wars of Napoleon demonstrated the great truth that distance can protect no country from invasion; but that a state to be secure must have a good system of fortresses and a good system of military reserves and military institutions.” “Fortifications fulfil two objects of capital importance: first, the protection of frontiers; and, second, assisting the operations of the army in the field;" “every part of the frontiers of a state should be secured by one or two great places of refuge, secondary places, and even small posts for facilitating the active operations of the armies. Cities girt with walls and elight ditches may often be of great utility in the interior of a country as places of deposit where stores, magazines, hospitals, &c., may be sheltered from the incursions of the enemy's light troops. These works are more especially valuable