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kind, would possess a high degree of importance not only as a harbor of refuge, but also as a naval station.
The survey of the exterior shoals, constituting the bar, should be made with the greatest care and all possible minuteness. Only when this shall have been done can the true relations of this inlet to the rest of the coast be known, and on this relation the position and magnitude of the required defences will depend. For the present the estimate made some years ago by the engineer department is adopted, namely, $300,000.-(Class E,
Sarannah, and mouth of the Savannah river, Georgia.—Mention has been made of the natural interior water communication along the coast of South Carolina. A similar communication extends, south from the Savannah river, as far as the St. John's, in Florida. Owing to these passages, the city of Savannah, like Charleston, is liable to be approached by other avenues than the harbor or river; and, accordingly, its defence must have relation to these lesser, as well as to the great channels.
The distance from the mouth of Wassaw, or even the Ossabaw sounds (both to the southward of Savannah river) to the city is not much greater than from the mouth of the river; and an enterprise may proceed the whole distance by water, or part of the way by water and part by land, from either inlet or from both. As in the case of like channels in the neighborhood of Charleston, it cannot now be determined where they can be defended most advantageously. It is hoped, however, that the localities will permit the defences to be placed near the inlets, because, thus placed, they will serve the double purpose of guarding the city of Savannah and covering these harbors, which, in time of war, cannot but be very useful.
The defence of Savannah river is not difficult. A fort on Cockspur island, lying just within the mouth, and, perhaps for additional security, another on Tybee island, which forms the southern cape at the mouth of the river, would prevent the passage
up the channel, and cover the anchorage between Tybee and Cockspur.
Old Fort Jackson, standing about four miles below the city, must be maintained as a second barrier, both as respects the main channel and the passages which come into the river from the south, which last would not be at all controlled by fortifications on Cockspur or Tybee. Fort Jackson is accordingly undergoing the repairs and modifications necessary to give the proper strength and efficiency. Estimated to cost $45,000.-(Class A.)
Fort Pulaski, a new work situated on Cockspur island, is, in all the most important matters, finished. Some further work has to be done, however, on the dikes of the island, on barracks, and quarters, and storehouses, and in the construction of an advanced battery. Estimated to cost $35,000.-(Class B.)
To fortify Tybee island may require $120,000.—(Class E.) Wassaw sound, Ossabaw sound, St. Catharine's sound, at the mouth o Medway river; Sapelo sound, Doby inlet, Altamaha sound, at the mouth of Altamaha river; Si. Simon's sound, at the mouth of Buffalo creck; St. Andrew's sound, at the united mouths of the Scilla and Santilla river; and Cumberland sound, at the mouth of St. Mary's river.-All these communications with the ocean are highly important as regards the line of interior navigation, and several of them as affording access to excellent harbors. The last and one or two others are known to be navigable to the largest sloops-of-war and merchantmen, and some of the others are but little inferior as regards depth of entrance or safety of anchorage.
Fort Clinch, a work now in course of erection at the mouth of Cumberland sound, is a most important contribution to the defence of this, the most southern of the Georgia entrances. Estimated to cost $180,000.—(Class C.)
All the above-named openings, except that into Cumberland sound, have to be surveyed. Some of them are probably easily defensible by forts and batteries, while others may need the aid of floating defences.
Nothing better can now be done than to assume $200,000 as the average cost of defending each of the eight entrances, giving a total of $1,600,000.(Class F.)
St. Augustine, Florida.—This most southern of all the harbors of the Atlantic, and the key to the eastern portion of Florida, is accessible to the smaller classes of merchantmen, or privateers, and to steam vessels, and requires a certain amount of protection from attack by water. It is believed that adequate protection has been given by repairs bestowed upon the water battery of the old Spanish fort, (Fort Marion.)-(Class A.)
SEA-COAST FROM CAPE FLORIDA TO THE MOUTH OF THE RIO GRANDE. Fort Taylor, at Key West, is in a good state to be brought speedily into efficiency; the walls have been raised up out of the water almost to the sills of the lower embrasures; and with the sum asked for in the last estimates the lower tier of embrasures might be got ready for the armament in a short time. Estimated to cost $805,000.-(Class C.)
Fort Jefferson, Garden key, Tortugas.- This fort, which will perfectly command the admirable harbor lying in the heart of this group of keys, is advancing without the slightest impediment. The outer or counter-scarp wall first executed, because necessary to prevent the flooding of the island in gales of wind, has been completed, and labors are now bestowed on the main scarp. Estimated at $989,862.-(Class C.)
Turning now to the shore of the Gulf, we find a portion, namely, from Cape Florida to Pensacola, that has never been surveyed with particular reference to the defence of the harbors. Within this space there are Charlotte harbor, Tampa bay, Apalachicola bay, Apalachie bay, St. Joseph's bay, and Santa Rosa bay. Nothing better can now be done than to assume for these the estimate formerly presented by the engineer department, viz: $1,000,000 for all.(Class F.) It
may be remarked, as applying to the whole Gulf coast, that, from the relative geographical position of this part of the seaboard and the country interested in its safety, from the unhealthiness of the climate, nature of the adjacent country, and mixed character of the inhabitants, it will be some time before that portion within supporting distance, whose welfare may be endangered by an enemy, will be competent of itself to sustain a serious attack from without.
Upon the Atlantic seaboard the Alleghanies crowd the people down upon the shore, every important point on the coast being surrounded by a population dense now, and every day rapidly increasing in numbers; while the ocean and the interior parallel communications transmit rapid aid to the right and left. The coast of the Gulf, however, is thinly peopled in itself, is remote from succor from behind, and is almost inaccessible to lateral assistance. Those reasons, therefore, which tend to establish the necessity of an organized, permanent, and timely system of defence for the whole seaboard of the United States, apply to this part of it with peculiar force.
We now pass on to the remaining points of defence on the Gulf.
Pensacola bay. - The upper arms of this considerable bay receive the yellow water or Pea river, Middle river, and Escambia river. The tributaries of the last interlocking with the Alabama and Chattahoochie, seem to mark the routes whereby, at some future day, canals will convey a part of the products of these rivers to Pensacola; while the qualities and position of the harbor, and the favorable nature of the country, have already marked out lines of railroad communication with a vast interior region.
Santa Rosa sound extends eastward, froin the lower part of the bay, into Santa Rosa bay. On the west the lagoons of Pensacola, Perdido, and Mobile bays, respectively, interlock in such a manner as to require but a few miles of eutting to complete a navigable channel from the first to the last named bay, and thence through an existing interior water communication to the city of New Orleans.
Pensacola bay has rare properties as a harbor. It is now accessible to frigates, and there is reason to hope that the bar may be permanently deepened.
The bar is near the coast and the channel across it straight and easily hit. The harbor is perfectly landlocked and the roadstead very capacious. There are excellent positions within for repairing, building, and launching vessels, and for docks and dock yards, in healthy situations. The supply of good water is abundant. The harbor is perfectly defensible. These properties, in connexion with the position of the harbor, as regards the coast, have induced the government to select it as a naval station and place of rendezvous and repair.
An excellent survey has been made of the bay of Pensacola, sufficing to form the scheme of defence for the town and harbor. Regarded, however, as an important naval station and place of rendezvous and repair, which it now is, further surveys, extending a greater distance back from the shores, delineating accurately the face of the country, and showing the several avenues by land and water, are found to be necessary.
The defences of the water passage as projected are nearly completed.
Fort McRae, on Foster's island, is also finished; as is Fort Barrancas, on the site of an old Spanish fort. An old Spanish water battery has been thoroughly repaired, and placed in connexion with the last-named fort, and considerable progress has been made on a redoubt, in advance of the same fort. Permanent barracks in the same vicinity are about half finished.
The site of Fort McRae was, a few years since, seriously threatened by the abrasion of a new outlet from the lagoon that lies just behind it; but this danger has been averted, and by the erection of a low rampart exterior to the fort a permanent security against any recurrence of the danger will be provided, and place for a heavy additional battery acting on the channel will be prepared. At a future day it will be proper to extend this exterior protection. At present it is designed to execute only that part lying over or nearly over the outlet that was lately so threatening and so difficult to close. Estimated at $204,000.(Classes A, B, C.)
Perdido bay.—This bay is intimately related to Pensacola and Mobile bays, both as regards security and intercommunication, and should be carefully surveyed with a view to those objects. It must be fortified, and the cost may be $200,000.-(Class F.)
Mobile bay.- The plan of defence for this bay requires a fort on Mobile Point, and another on Dauphin island. Fort Morgan, at the first-mentioned position, is a finished work, in an efficient condition, but requiring, in the way of barracks and quarters, storehouses, &c., for the accommodation of its garrison, some further expenditures. These improvements are in progress-estimated at 830,000.-(Class B.)
Fort Gaines, on Dauphin island, has been authorized by Congress, and the expenditure of the appropriation awaits only the settlement of title to the site, as to which there are supposed to be no remaining difficulties. Estimate, $180,000.-(Class C.)
New Orleans and the delta of the Mississippi.—The most northern water communication between the Mississippi and the Gulf is by the passage called the Rigolets, connecting Lake Borgne and Lake Pontchartrain. The next is the pass of Chef Menteur, also connecting these lakes. Through these passages an enemy entering Lake Pontchartrain would, at the same time that he intercepted all water communication with Mobile and Pensacola, be able to reach New Orleans from the southern shore of the lake; or he might continue onward through Lake Maurepas, Amité river, and Iberville river, thereby reaching the Mississippi at the very head of the Delta; or, landing within the mouths of the Chef Menteur, he might move against the city, along the edge of the Gentilly road.
To the southwest of Chef Menteur, and towards the head of Lake Borgne, is Bayou Bienvenue, a navigable channel, (the one followed by the English army in the last war,) not running quite to the Mississippi, but bounded by shores of such a nature as to enable troops to march from the point of debarkation to the city.
These avenues are defended by Fort Pike, at the Rigolets; by Fort Macomb, formerly Fort Wood, at Chef Menteur; by a small fort at Bayou Bienvenue, and by a tower at Bayou Dupré.
The defences of the Mississippi are placed at the Plaquemine turn, about seventy miles below New Orleans—the lowest position that can be occupied. Fort Jackson is on the right bank, and Fort St. Philip a little higher up on the left.
Forts Pike, Macomb, Battery Bienvenue, and Tower Dupré, have been put in the most efficient state, and will perfectly accomplish the objects for which they were designed. They will still need some small expenditures in reference to security of site, extension of accommodations, &c. Fort Jackson is also in good condition as to its batteries, but will be much improved in that respect on the completion of an outwork now in hand. It needs also more barrack room. Fort St. Philip is a very old fort, and much dilapidated. Its position is so commanding and advantageous as to require the fort to be put in the best state, and much has been done to that end within a few years; still more is necessary for the fort itself and its dependencies; and all the barracks, quarters, and storehouses have yet to be built. Estimated at $111,500.-(Classes A and B.)
The most western avenue by which New Orleans is approachable from the sea passes on the west side of the island of Grande Terre into Barrataria bay, which is an excellent harbor for a floating force, guarding the coasting trade on that side of the Mississippi. From this bay there are several passages leading to New Orleans.
Fort Livingston has been erected on the west end of Grande Terre island. This fort is kept from entire completion to await the cessation of a slight subsidence which has been going on for some time. It could be finished with the means now applicable at any moment by a few weeks' work.—(Class B.)
Proctor's Lake, on Lake Borgne.—This position, which was overlooked in the original project for the defences of the city of New Orleans, has been already adverted to. A small battery, enclosing a tower, standing on the shore, would effectually close this avenue. The tower could not be carried by assault, nor the battery while protected by the tower. No landing could be made under its fire, and there is no other spot for a landing, owing to the swampy nature of the ground, but the site of the battery. Estimated at $100,000.-(Class D.)
Several times in this report we have alluded to circumstances which would demand the employment of floating defences in addition to fixed defences upon the shore. We have here an instance in which that kind of defence would be very useful. Fortifications will enable us to protect New Orleans even from the most serious and determined efforts of an enemy; but, owing to the great width of some of the exterior passages, we cannot by fortifications alone deprive an enemy of anchorages, (especially that of Chandeleur island,) nor cover entirely the exterior water communication between the Rigolets and Mobile. We must, therefore, either quietly submit to the annoyance and injury that an enemy in possession of these passages may inflict, or avert them by a timely preparation of a floating force adapted to their peculiar navigation, and capable, under the shelter of forts, of being always on the alert, and of assuming an offensive or defensive attitude, according to the designs, conduct, or situation of the enemy.
A floating force of this nature would be very useful in overlooking the coast eastward of New Orleans, especially the portion just mentioned, extending from the Rigolets (Fort Pike) to Mobile bay. And in connexion with the active service of such a force, and as a further defence of the approaches to New Orleans from that quarter, a fort on Ship island would be important. It would cover an excellent anchorage for the defensive flotilla and for other cruisers. With this refuge at one end of the base of operations, and at the other the anchorage between Pelican island and Dauphin island, guarded by works at the eastern end of the latter, a light steam squadron might, without being much exposed, be very effective.
Projects have not yet been made for works on Ship island, but it may be estimated that an adequate fort would cost about $200,000.—(Class E.)
In this age of great improvements in the means of locomotion, it would be unwise to decide, without pressing need, on the details of the floating force required at certain points on the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts—perhaps even on the nature of the moving power. Although the probability undoubtedly is that the power will be steam, genius may in the interim devise something still better than steam.
And I may here remark, in relation to the preparation of steam vessels for warlike purposes generally, that wisdom would seem to direct a very cautious and deliberate progress. Every new vessel may be expected to surpass in important particulars all that had preceded, and to surpass the more, as each succeeding vessel should be the result of careful study and trial of the preceding.
It may be considered unreasonable to expect that steam itself will give way to some agent still more potent, and at the same time not less safe and manageable. But it certainly is no more than probable that steam vessels now under construction may be regarded almost as incumbrances within ten years.
A deliberate advance in this branch of naval construction is recommended the more, by our ability to construct these vessels in large numbers, when about to be needed, the timber being collected in the meantime.
COAST OF TEXAS. In November, 1845, a special board of engineer officers was appointed to examine the coast of Texas in relation to its defence. Their report, submitted in February, 1846, was to the following effect :
The coast from the Sabine to the Rio Grande is about three hundred and seventy-five miles in extent. It is composed, for nearly the whole distance, of long narrow islands and peninsulas, which lie parallel to the main land, forming several bays and lagoons, the inlets to which exhibit channels generally only suitable to the smaller classes of vessels.
Galreston bay is the most important one on the coast. Besides a number of bayous and small tributaries, it receives the waters of the river Trinity. This river is said to be navigable for six hundred miles for steamers of a light class, and, when improved, this navigation will doubtless be extended. The harbor is represented as being undoubtedly the best on the coast, the bar at the entrance having also the greatest depth of water. The charts submitted by that board show a depth of nine feet at low water and twelve feet at high water.
A permanent work is proposed for the defence of this harbor, of the class of that constructed on Grande 'Terre island, Barrataria bay. Its estimated cost is three hundred thousand dollars.—(Class D.) The construction of some Martello towers along the shore and across the island is deemed essential to the defence of the “Swash " channel and to the security of the town, Brazos San. tiago. The board deem this harbor of equal importance with that of Galveston;