Imatges de pÓgina

forward. During the succeeding night the same hazardous operation was repeated with equal successes; and while the Austrian commander was writing to Melas that he had seen thirty-five thousand men and four thousand horse cross the path of the Albaredo, but that not one piece of artillery or caisson should pass beneath the guns of his fortress, the whole cannon and ammunition of the army were safely proceeding on the road to Ivrea.” The fort of Bard itself held out till the 5th of June; and we have the authority of Napoleon for the assertion that if the passage of the artillery had been delayed to its fall, (in other words, if the guards of the fort had not neglected their duty,) all hope of success in the campaign was at an end. Napoleon says, moreover, that “this fort was a more considerable obstacle to his army than the Great St. Bernard itself,” and that the enemy's being left in possession of it in his rear fettered his operations and modified his plans; and we know that his dispositions for the battle of Marengo were not made till he heard that its reduction had opened to him a secure line of retreat in case of disaster. When this battle had shattered the main force of the Austrians, these, again yielding to sectional prejudices, instead of taking advantage of the works in their rear to impede the advance of the French, declared it was better to save the lives of their men by armistice “ than to preserve towns for the King of Sardinia.” Accordingly, the fortresses of Piedmont again fell into the hands of Napoleon without opposition, and he was not slow to understand their utility. He directed his chief engineer, Chasseloup de Laubat, whose admirable arrangement of defensive works had already been of vast assistance to the army of Italy, (and for which he was promoted from colonel of engineers to brigadier general, then general of division, and afterwards count of the French empire, with an ample hereditary endowment,) to revise this system of fortifications, with particular reference to Austrian aggression. By demolishing a part of the old works, and repairing those of Genoa, Roco d'Anfo, Vienna, Legnago, Mantua, Alexandria, and the defences of the Adda, Chasseloup formed two good lines of fortifications, which were of great service to the French in 1805, enabling Massena, with only 50,000 men, to hold in check the Archduke Charles with more than 90,000 men, while Napoleon's grand army traversed Germany, and approached the capital of Austria.

In the German campaign of 1800, Moreau derived the same advantages from his fortified base on the Rhine as in the preceding years, while the Austrians were soon driven back with great loss upon the Danube, where, without defences, their whole army would have been exposed to destruction. But retiring into the fortifications of Ulm, “the Austrian general not only preserved entire his own communications and line of retreat by Donawert and Ratisbon, but threatened those of his adversary, who, if he attempted to pass either on the north or south, exposed himself to the attack of a powerful army in flank. Securely posted in this central point, the imperialists daily received accessions of strength from Bohemia and the hereditary states; while the French, weakened by detachments necessary to preserve their communications and observe the Prince of Reuss in the Tyrol, soon began to lose that superiority which, by the skilful concentration of their force, they had hitherto enjoyed in the campaign. The Austrians soon reaped the benefits of this admirably chosen strong. hold; the soldiers, lodged in excellent quarters, rapidly recovered their strength; while the morale of the army, which had been extremely weakened by the rapid disasters of the campaign, as quickly rose when they perceived that a stop was at length put to the progress of the enemy.” Moreau, on the contrary, “found himself extremely embarrassed, and six weeks were employed in the vain attempt to dislodge a defeated army from their stronghold; a striking proof of the prophetic wisdom of the Archduke Charles in its formation, and the importance of central fortifications in arresting the progress of an invading enemy.'

When the great victories of Napoleon, in the campaign of 1806, had overthrown the Prussian armies in the open field, there was still a dormant power in the fortresses sufficient to hold in check the French till the new organized forces, acting in concert with the Russian army, could have re-established the Prussian monarchy in its ancient greatness. The works on the three great lines of the Oder, the Elbe, and the Weser, were fully capable of doing this, had they been properly repaired, garrisoned, and defended. But it seemed, say the historians of that period, that fate or treason had utterly blinded the intellect and paralyzed the energy of the entire Prussian army. Stettin, Custrin, Glogau, Magdebourg, Spandau, Hameln, Nienbourg, &c., were, to the joy and astonishment of Napoleon and his generals, surrendered without waiting, in most cases, even the form of a siege. “Spandau,” said he, in the 19th bulletin, “is an inestimable acquisition. In our hands, it could sustain two months of operations. But such was the general confusion, that the Prussians had not armed the batteries.” The possession of these fortifications was of immense value to the French in their ensuing operations against the Russians. All the historians of the war notice their influence on the campaigns of Friedland and Tilsit. We quote the words of Alison as peculiarly appropriate: “The Polish winter campaign demonstrates, in the most striking manner, the ruinous effects to the common cause, and in a special manner the interests of their own mon

onarchy, which resulted from the disgraceful capitulation of the Prussian fortresses in the preceding autumn. When the balance quivered at Eylau, the arrival of Lestoq would have given the Russians a decisive victory, had it not been for the great successes of Davoust on the left, and the tardy appearance of Ney on the right; yet, if the governors of the Prussian fortresses on the Elbe and Oder had done their duty, these corps would have been engaged far in the rear-Ney around the walls of Magdebourg, Davoust before Stettin, Custrin, and Glogau. Saragossa, with no defence but an old wall and the heroism of its inhabitants, held out fifty days of open trenches. Tarragona fell after as many. If the French marshals had, in like manner, been detained two months, or even six weeks, before each of the great fortresses of Prussia, time would have been gained to organize the resources of the eastern provinces of the monarchy, and Russia would have gained a decisive victory at Eylau, or driven Napoleon to a disastrous retreat from the Vistula.”

At the treaty of Tilsit, Napoleon, notwithstanding the protests and entreaties of the king and queen, insisted upon retaining possession of the Prussian fortresses, as a pledge of peace. "The campaign of 1809," said he, afterwards, “ proved the prudence of my policy.” They then effectually prevented Prussia from joining Austria in kindling again the flames of war. But these were not the only fortresses from which Napoleon derived assistance in this war. His garrisons on the now vastly extended frontiers of the empire served as so many safe rallying points around which the several contingents were collected, before converging to the general rendezvous at the fortresses of Ingolstadt or of Donawerth. Davoust was to concentrate his immense corps at Bamberg and Wurtzburg; Massena at Strasburg and Ulm; Oudinot at Ausburg; Bernadotte at Dresden; the Poles upon Gallicia; and the troops of the Rhenish confederacy were to concentrate upon the strongholds of the Danube. “Thus from all quarters of Europe, from the mountains of Austria to the plains of Poland, armed men were converging in all directions to the valley of the Danube, where a hundred and fifty thousand soldiers would ere long be collected; while the provident care of the Emperor was not less actively exerted in collecting magazines upon the projected line of operations for the stupendous multitude, and providing, in the arming and replenishing of the fortresses, both as a base for offensive operations, and a refuge in the probable events of disaster.This concentration of his vast army, secured by his fortifications, soon produced the retreat of the Austrian army, and Napoleon's advance to Vienna.

H. Rep. Com. 86-21

Again, in 1813, the French garrisons of Stettin, Oustrin, Glogau, Hamburg, Wettenberg, and Magdebourg, would have had a fatal influence upon the Prussians, had not the political perfidy of Austria, and the treason of his own generals, prevented Napoleon from profiting by the advantages of his own position. If, after the disasters of this campaign, the fortresses of France failed to save the nation, the cause must be sought for in the peculiar features of the invasion itself, rather than in any lack of military influence in the French defences. A million of disciplined men, under consummate leaders, were here assailing a single State, impoverished by the fatal war in Russia, torn in pieces by political factions, deserted by its sworn allies, its fortresses basely betrayed into

the enemy's hands, and its military power paralyzed by the treason of generals, with their entire armies. Its only hope was in the fortresses which had remained faithful ; and Napoleon said at St. Helena, that if he had collected together the garrisons of these fortresses, and retired to the Rhine, he could have crushed the allies, even after their entrance into Paris. But political considerations prevented the operation.

Again, in 1815, Napoleon, even after his defeat at Waterloo, possessed lines of defence sufficiently strong to resist all attempts at invasion. But, again, the want of co-operation on the part of the government at Paris, and treason of his own generals, forced his second abdication. If he had retained the command of the army, and the nation had seconded his efforts, the allies could never have reached Paris. But the new government presented the disgraceful spectacle of opening the way for the enemies of their country. “France," said Napoleon, at St. Helena, “will eternally reproach the ministry with having forced her whole people to pass under the caudine-forks, by ordering the disbanding of an army that had for twenty-five years been its country's glory, and by giving up to our astonished enemys our still invincible fortresses."

History fully supports Napoleon's opinion of the great danger of penetrating far into a hostile country to attack the capital, even though that capital may be unfortified. The fatal effects of such an advance, without properly securing the means of retreat, is exemplified by his own campaign in Russia in 1812. If

, after the fall of Smolensky, he had fortified that place and Vitepsh, which by their position closed the narrow passage comprised between the Dnieper and the Dwina, he might, in all probability, on the following spring, have been able to seize upon Moscow and St. Petersburg. But leaving the hostile army of Tschkakoff cantoned in his rear, he pushed on to Moscow; and when the conflagration of that city cut off his hopes of winter quarters there, and the premature rigor of the season destroyed the horses of his artillery and provision trains, retreat became impossible, and the awful fate of his immense army was closed by scenes of horror to which scarcely a parallel can be found in history. We might further illustrate this point by the Russian campaign of Charles XII, in 1708–’9, the advance of the French army on Lisbon in the Peninsular war, and others of the same nature.

Even single works sometimes effect the object of lines of fortifications, and frustrate the operations of an entire army. Thus Lille suspended for a whole year the operations of Prince Eugene and Marlborough, Metz arrested the entire power of Charles V, and Strasbourg was often the bulwark of the French. Napoleon said to O'Meara, that, if Vienna had been fortified in 1805, the battle of Ulm would not have decided the event of the war. General Kutusoff's army could there have awaited the return of the other Russian corps and of the army of Prince Charles, then approaching from Italy. Again, in 1809, Prince Charles, defeated at Eckmulh, and forced to retreat by the left bank of the Danube, would have had time to reach Vienna, and form a junction with the forces of General Heller and Archduke John. If Berlin had been fortified in 1806, the army routed at Jena would have rallied there, and been joined by the Russians. If Madrid had been strongly fortified in 1805, the French army, after the victories of Espinosa Tudella, Burgos, and Sammosiera, would not have marched towards that capital, leaving in the rear of Salamanca and Valladolid both the English army of General Moore and the Spanish army of Romana. These two would, under the fortifications of Madrid, have united with the armies of Arragon and Valencia. If Moscow had been fortified in 1812, its conflagration would have been avoided; for, with strong works, and the army of Kutusoff encamped on its ramparts, its investment would have been impossible. Had not Constantinople been well fortified, the empire of Constantine must have terminated in 700, whereas the standard of the Prophet was not planted there until 1440. This capital was therefore indebted to its walls for 800 years of existence. During this period it was besieged 53 times, but only one of these sieges was successful. The French and Venetians took it, but not without a very severe contest. Paris often owed its safety to its walls. In 885, the Normans besieged it two years without effect. In 1358, the Dauphin besieged it in vain. In 1359, Edward, King of England, encamped at Montrouge, devastated the country to its walls, but recoiled from before its works, and retired to Chatres. In 1429, it repulsed the attack of Charles VII. In 1464, the Count of Charolois surrounded the city, but was unsuccessful in his attacks. In 1472, it repulsed the army of the Duke of Bourgone, who had already ravaged its precincts. In 1536, when attacked by Charles V, it again owed its safety to its walls. In 1589, it repulsed the armies of Henry III and Henry IV. In 1636, the inhabitants of Paris for several years owed their safety to its walls. If this capital had been strongly fortified in 1814 or 1815, the allied armies would not have dared to attempt its investment.

We had intended to enter into an analysis of the Peninsular war, and point out the influence of fortifications upon military operations in Spain and Portugal; but further illustrations would seem unnecessary; for the usefulness of fortifications in the defence of inland frontiers is too evident in itself, and, as we have already shown, is too well supported by historical facts, and the recorded opinions of the best military men of modern ages, to be overthrown by a mere assertion of their worthlessness, no matter by whom such assertion is made.

While there exists this great unanimity among military men upon the vast importance of fortifications as land defences, there is an equal diversity of opinion respecting the best manner of arranging them. We shall mention three general systems of arranging forts for the defence of an open country, each of which has been advocated at different times, and afterwards received various modifications and additions. These three systems are the most important, and, in fact, comprise the main features of all others worthy of much consideration. They are:

1st. Montalembert's system of continuous lines.

2d. A system of three lines of detached works, strongly recommended by D'Arcon.

3d. A system proposed by Vauban, and advocated by Rogniat, consisting of lines of very strong works placed at considerable distances from each other, and covering large intrenched camps.

The first was proposed in 1790, and for a time attracted considerable notice in France, but has long since been exploded, as utterly incompatible with the principles of military art. A writer, however, of some pretension in this country, recommends its adoption for the defence of Baltimore and the Chesapeake. The same author would dispense entirely with our present system of fortifications on the sea-coast, and substitute in their place wooden martello towers !

In the second system the works of the first line are to be about one day's march apart, those of the second line opposite the intervals of the first and at the same distance, and those of the third line having the same relation to the second. Works of different sizes are recommended by some writers for each of these three lines.

In the system first recommended by Vauban, and more recently by Rogniat, the works of the advanced line are to be thirty leagues apart, and the other lines at the same distance from each other, with their works opposite the intervals in front. Under the guns of each is established a large intrenched camp.

These systems were designed for an open country, and either of them would be greatly modified in its application ; for, in practice, the frontier to be defended will always be of a broken character. The proper application of forts in the defence of such frontiers is a question of no easy solution. The principle laid down by Jomini, “ that fortifications should always be constructed on important strategic points,” is undoubtedly the correct one; but how to determine these points involves questions which often perplex the patience and try the skill of the engineer; yet determine them he must, or his fortifications will be worse than useless. A fort improperly placed, like a cannon with its fire reversed upon its own artillerists, will be sure to effect the destruction of the very forces it was designed to protect.

The system of fortifications adopted by the board of 1840 for the defence of our northern frontier—a system whose extravagance is so much spoken of in the Apalachicola report—consists of a single line of forts placed at different points along the extreme frontier, and one large military station and depot opposite about the middle of this line, and some two hundred miles back in the interior of the country. This great central station it is proposed to locate at Albany or in that vicinity; and the line of forts to be as follows: First, a fort at the falls of St. Mary ; second, at Michilimackinac; third, at the foot of Lake Huron; fourth, at Detroit ; fifth, at Buffalo; sixth, at the mouth of Niagara river; seventh, at Oswego; eighth, at Sackett's harbor; ninth, at the Narrows of the St. Law. rence, below Ogdensburg; tenth, at Rouses's Point; elventh, arrangements for depots at Plattsburg, and at the head waters of the Kennebeck and Penobscot ; and, twelfth, a fort at Calais, on the St. Croix river.

This system has been considerably commented on by military men, and various opinions have been advanced recpecting its merits. Some are of opinion that more and larger works should have been planned for the western extremity of the line, while others regard the eastern portion as far the most important. This difference results from a diversity of opinion respecting the most feasible line of operations against Canada. According to the views of the one party we should concentrate our forces at the single point of Augusta, and advance from thence against Quebec, a distance of some two hundred and fifty miles along the isolated carriage road through the valley of the Chaudiere ; while the other party would draw their military munitions from Pittsburg, and their troops from the States bordering on the Ohio river, and then ascend the Detroit and St. Clair rivers, and Lake Huron; get in the rear of the enemy by way of the Georgian bay and Lake Simcoe, or still further north, by Lake Nipissing and the Ottowa river-thus leaving him between us and our true base. This subject is worthy of examination.

The selection of positions for fortifications on this frontier must have reference to three distinct classes of objects, viz: The security, first, of the larger frontier towns, where much public or private property is exposed to sudden dashing expeditions of the foe, made either on land or by water ; second, of lake harbors, important as places of refuge and security to our own ships, or as shelters to the enemy's fleet while engaged in landing troops or furnishing supplies to an invading army; third, of all the strategic points

on the probable lines of offensive or defensive operations. These objects are distinct in their nature, and would seem to require separate and distinct means for their accomplishment; nevertheless, it will generally be found that positions selected with reference to one of these objects equally fulfil the others, so intimately are they all connected. To determine the strategic points of a probable line of military operations is therefore the main thing to be attended to in locating the fortifications. That such points of max

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