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wherewith it may be defended, indicate its fitness as a harbor of refuge for the commerce of the bay, and as an occasional, if not constant station during war of a portion of our naval forces. A survey of the harbor and the surrounding country has been made. The maps are, however, not yet complete, and the board are unprepared to state the cost of the defences.
Patuxent river.* _The more effectually to protect the city of Washington from a sudden attack by troops landed at the head of navigation of the Patuxent, and to provide an additional shelter for vessels, a fort has been projected to occupy Point Patience, and another Thomas's Point, about six miles from the Chesapeake. Their expense will be $337,000.
Annapolis harbor.t--From not having as yet been able to consider the particular subject of the defences of this harbor, or to obtain preliminary surveys, the board are unable to state whether new works will be required.
Harbor of Baltimore. The proximity of Baltimore to the bay places that city in a dangerous situation. In the present state of things an enemy can, in a few hours' march, without being exposed to a separation from his fleet, after an easy landing, make himself master of that great commercial depot.
Baltimore requires for its security two forts in the Patapsco, one at Hawkins's Point and the other at the extreme end of the flat on Sollers's Point. Besides the advantages which will result of obliging the enemy to land at a greater distance, thereby delaying his march, gaining time for the arrival of militia, and preventing his turning the defensive position our forces might occupy, it will be impossible for him to endanger the city or its shipping by a direct attack by water. The present Fort McHenry, Redoubt Wood, and Covington battery should be retained as a second barrier. The expense of the fort on Sollers's Point flat is estimated at... $673, 205 44 A preliminary estimate of fort at Hawkins's Point (to be corrected
by applying the project with more accuracy to the ground than could heretofore be done) gives
244, 337 11
917, 542 58
Mouth of Elk river.—The construetion of the Delaware and Chesapeake canal will make it necessary to place a small work somewhere near the mouth of the Elk, to prevent an enemy by a sudden enterprise destroying the works which connect that canal with the river. Some surveys must be made before the most suitable location, or the form, or the cost of this work can be determined.
City of Washington, Alexandria, and Georgetown.t-Fort Washington, a work recently completed, covers these cities from any attack by water, and will oblige an enemy to land at some fifteen or eighteen miles from Alexandria, should that city be his object. It will also serve the very valuable purpose of covering the troops crossing from Virginia with a view to fall upon the flanks of an enemy moving against the metropolis. All these objects would have been better fulfilled had the work been placed at Lower Cedar Point; as it is, however, the works in the Patuxent being constructed, and the militia of the surrounding country being in a due state of preparation, an enterprise against these cities would be one of great hazard. The cost of Fort Washington was $446,467 37; a small work should nevertheless be placed on Lower Cedar Point.
See report of 1819, and memoir on the defence of the Patuxent, 1825.
† See report of 1819.
From the mouth of the Chesapeake to Cape Hatteras there occurs no inlet navigable by sea-going vessels, and we therefore proceed at once to the
SOUTHERN SECTION OF THE ATLANTIC COAST.* This coast is invariably low, and for the greater part sandy, much resembling that from Cape Hatteras to Montauk Point. A ridge of sand, occasionally interrupted by the alluvion of the rivers, extends throughout its whole length; this ridge lies in certain portions on the main land, while in others it is divided therefrom by basins or sounds of varying width and depth, and is cut into islands by numerous channels of greater or less depth connecting these interior waters with the sea. Wherever this ridge is broken, its place is supplied by low and marshy grounds, bordering the principal and the many lesser outlets of the rivers.
The nature of the country through which the rivers of this coast flow after leaving the mountains is such that the banks being casily abraded by the current the waters are always turbid, and are continually transporting new supplies for the formation of alluvion and the maintenance of extensive submarine banks, shoals, and bars; that these last do not rapidly increase is owing to the force of the current, the action of the sea, and the mobility of the particles of matter. It is to this cause, viz: the wearing away of the shores of the rivers, that is to be attributed the want of harbors on this coast unobstructed by bars, and which as a coast particularly distinguishes this and the Gulf of Mexico frontier (where similar operations have been going on) from the more northern and eastern portions.
The board have not examined the coast of East Florida ; their description, therefore, of the southern coast will extend no further than Amelia island or mouth of St. Mary's, while that of the Gulf of Mexico frontier will begin at Pensacola.
Ocracoke Inlet, Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds.* - In their report of 1821, the board adverted to a project then if not now in agitation to open a navigable, direct communication from Albemarle sound to the sea, and they also indicated, as probably a less expensive and a less dangerous mode of transporting the produce of the Roanoke, Tar, and Neuse rivers to the ocean, a canal from river to river, and terminating in the harbor of Beaufort, North Carolina. If the first of these projects be executed, defensive works would be necessary at the new inlet; if not, no others will be needed than such as are indispensable in any event to cover the important harbor of refuge at Beaufort. The shallowness of the water on the bars at Ocracoke effectually excludes all vessels-of-war from the harbors within. But as this, in the present state of things, is the outlet of an extensive commerce, and as through this opening attempts might be made in small vessels or in boats to interrupt the interior line of communication whereon 80 much would depend in time of war, it would be proper in the beginning of a war to throw up a temporary work as a defence against all minor enterprises.
Beaufort harbor, N. C.—Beaufort harbor and the mouths of Cape Fear river are the only issues navigable by vessels of more than a light draught of water, by which the interior of North Carolina communicates with the ocean. They are important points in the line of interior navigation to be sooner or later opened from the Chesapeake southwardly, and they are besides the only harbors of refuge on an extent of coast of more than 400 miles.
The fort projected for the defence of Beaufort harbor will take the place of the ruins of Fort Hampton. Its estimated expense is $175,000. Mouths of Cape Fear river, N. CI-It is proposed to defend the main channel of Cape Fear river by a fort on Oak island and another on Bald Head, and the smaller channel by a redoubt on Federal Point. The battery, magazine, block-house, quarters, &c., &c., at Smithville, may remain as accessories; the cost of the new works will be $251,000.
* See report of 1821. i See report of 1821, and memoir on the defence of Beaufort, 1824. See report of 1821, and inemoir on the defence of Cape Fear river, of 1824.
As the board have not hitherto given in any report of that part of the southern coast which lies between Cape Fear river and Amelia island, it is a matter of regret that they cannot at once give the full and accurate account of the interesting points of the coast, and their relation to each other and to the country behind them, which is necessary to a perfect understanding of the suitableness of any proposed system of defence. This cannot be done, however, until many surveys, a part only of which are in progress, have been made. The board will, nevertheless, be able (from their personal examinations of the coast,) to point out distinctly most, if not all, of the points requiring defence. Especially as they have a principle to guide them which may be regarded as imperative, namely, that on a coast possessing few harbors like this it is at the same time the more necessary to preserve them all for our own use, and the more easy to deprive an enemy of that shelter, which is nearly indispensable to a continuous and close blockade.
Georgetown harbor.— The first inlet of any consequence south of Cape Fear river is at the united mouths of the Waccamaw, Pedee, and Black rivers, forming Georgetown harbor. The two latter rivers first join a few miles above Georgetown, (which lies at the mouth of Sampit creek, fifteen miles from the sea,) and their united waters mingle with those of the Waccamaw, opposite that town. Below this junction the waters spread out to a considerable width, affording a commodious and capacious bay, having sufficient depth of water within and upon the bar near the mouth for merchant vessels and small vessels-of-war.
It is probable this harbor may be well defended by a work placed near the mouth of Moschito creek, a little within the chaps of the harbor, or perhaps upon Winyaw Point. The present fort, situated near the town at the mouth of Sampit creek, can be of no avail, except to defend the approach by water to the town. It has long been neglected, and is in ruins.
Santee river and Bull's bay.—About ten miles southwest from Georgetown entrance are the mouths of the Santee, the largest river in South Carolina. Whether the two mouths of this river have sufficient water on their bars to permit the passage of vessels of any draught, the board are not informed ; should there, as is believed, be too little water for sea-going vessels, there can be little advantage in fortifying them, especially as the greatest proportion of the valuable products of this river are now, or will soon be, diverted from the channel of the lower part of the river by canals to Charleston. As to Bull's bay, the board are in the same uncertainty as regards the depth of water with which it is accessible, and they are as yet doubtful of its defensibility if accessible.
Charleston, S. C.-The city, situated at the junction of Ashley and Cooper rivers, is about five miles in a direct line from the sea. Between it and the ocean is a wide and safe roadstead for vessels of any draught. Upon the bar, however, lying three or four miles outside of the chaps of the harbor, there is only water enough for large sloops-of-war. On the southwest side of the harbor is James's island, through which are several serpentine passages more or less navigable for boats or barges; some of these communicate directly with the sea, and some with Stono river. Whappoo cut, the most northerly passage from Stono to Charleston harbor, enters the latter directly opposite the city.
Interior natural water communications also exist to the southwest of Stono river, connecting this with North Edisto river, the latter with South Edisto and St. Helena sound, this again with Broad river, and finally this last with Savannah river. On the north side of the mouth of the harbor lies Sullivan's island, separated from the main by a channel navigable to small craft. To the northeast of Sullivan's island an interior water communication extends to Bull's bay
and even beyond to the harbor of Georgetown. From this sketch it is apparent that it will not suffice to defend the principal entrance to the harbor alone. The lateral avenues must also be shut. And it is probable that accurate surveys will show that the best mode of defending these latter is by works at or near the months of the inlets, as the enemy will thereby be kept at a greater distance from the city, the lesser harbors formed by these inlets will be secured, and the line of interior communication will be inaccessible from the sea.
No position for the defence of the principal entrance and roadstead can be formed nearer the ocean than the western extremity of Sullivan's island. This is at present occupied by Fort Moultrie, a work of some strength but by no means adequate to its object, its battery being weak and the scarp so low as to oppose no serious obstacle to escalade. How far this work, by modifications of its plan and relief, may be made to contribute to a better defence of the harbor, cannot now be determined. The northeast point of James's island, projecting into the harbor about midway between Sullivan's island and the city, is the site of the few remains of old Fort Johnson; this point is too remote from Fort Moultrie and from the channel to be occupied by a new work if a better position can be found. The probability is that the shoal opposite the last named fort may be occupied permanently ; and if so the fortification of the harbor may be considered as an easy and simple problem. Castle Pinckney, which stands upon a small island a little below the city, should be maintained as an auxiliary in the defence of the harbor, and as serving as a sort of citadel in case of internal commotion.
St. Helena sound. The board must wait for surveys before they can point out the defences which this sound should receive. Although there is supposed to be no great depth of water on the bar at the mouth, it is known to be navigable by the smaller class of merchantmen and to have a navigable communication with the head of Broad river, or Port Royal. Intersecting, as it does, the interior navigation between Charleston and Savannah, this sound will require defence, even should it not be of much use as a harbor of refuge for exterior commerce.
Broad river, or Port Royal roads.—The value of this capacious roadstead as a harbor of refuge depends on the depth which can be carried over the bar, the distance of this bar outside the line of coast, and the means which may be practicable of lessening the danger of crossing it. This is supposed to be the deepest bar of the southern coast. Should there prove to be water enough for small frigates, and by the aid of light-houses on the shore and lights, or other distinct guides on the bar, should the passage be capable of being rendered easy and safe, this road, situated as it is within sixty miles of Charleston and twenty iniles of Savannah harbor, and intersecting, as it does, the interior navigation between these great cities, thereby securing the arrival of supplies of every kind, would possess a very high degree of importance as a naval station as well as a harbor of refuge.
The survey of the exterior shoals, constituting the bar, should be made with the greatest care and all possible minuteness. It is only when this shall have been done that the true relation of this inlet to the rest of the coast can be known, and on this relation the position and magnitude of the required defences will depend.
Sarannah and mouth of Savannah rirer.- Mention has already been made of the natural interior water communication existing along the coast of South Carolina. A similar communication extends south from Savannah river as far as the St. John's, in East 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 its defences must, consequently, have relation to these lesser as well as to the principal channels.
The distance from the mouth of Warsaw sound or even of Ossabaw sound (both to the southwest of the river) to the city is not much greater than from
the mouth of the river, and an enterprise may be conducted the whole distance by water, or part of the way by water and part by land from either or both. As in the case of the like channels in the neighborhood of Charleston, it cannot now be determined where they can be defended most advantageously.
It is to be hoped, however, that the localities may prove such as to permit the defences to be placed near the outlets of these sounds, where they will serve the double purpose of protecting the city and covering harbors which, in time of war, cannot but be very useful.
The defence of Savannah river is by no means difficult. A fort on Cockapur island, lying just within the mouth, and for additional security perhaps another on Tybee island, which forms the southern cape at the junction of the river with the ocean, would effectually prevent the passage of vessels up the channel, and cover the anchorage between Tybee and Cockspur. The present Fort Jackson, situated about four miles below the city, should be maintained as a second barrier, both as respects the main channel and the passages which come in from the south, which latter would not be at all controlled by works at Coekspur or Tybee.
The surveys required preliminary to forming a system of defence for Savannah are so far completed as to enable the board to make the projects and estimates for the defence of the main channel whenever they shall be ordered to direct their attention to them.
A few months, it is presumed, will suffice to complete all the necessary surveys from Georgetown to Ossabaw sound inclusive, excepting the bar off Port Royal and Bull's bay and its vicinity. No surveys have been commenced south of Ossabaw sound.
South of Ossabaw sound on the coast of Georgia are, first, St. Catherine's sound, at the mouth of the Medway river; second, Sapelo sound; third, Doboy inlet; fourth, Alatamaha sound, at the mouth of the great river of the same name; fifth, St. Simon's sound, at the mouth of Buffalo creek; sixth, St. Andrew's sound, at the united mouths of the Scilla and Santilla rivers ; and, seventh, Cumberland sound, at the mouth of the St. Mary's river. All these communications with the ocean are highly important in reference to the interior navigation, and several of them as affording access to excellent harbors. The latter especially is known to be navigable by the largest sloops-of-war and merchantmen, and two or three of the others are believed to be little if at all inferior either as regards depth of bar or safety of anchorage.
Some of these inlets are probably easily defended by forts, others may require floating defences, and some possibly the use of both these means.
The principle to which we have before adverted as governing, in a measure, the defensive system of the whole southern coast, is enforced in relation to this particular part by two weighty considerations, namely: its remoteness from the nearest naval rendezvous, the Chesapeake, which is on a mean six hundred miles distant, and to leeward, both as to wind and current; and its being close upon the larboard hand as they enter the Atlantic, of the great concourse of vessels passing at all seasons through the Florida channel. While, therefore, this part of the coast, from the concentration of vessels here, is in great need of protection of some sort, naval aid can be extended to it only with difficulty, and at the risk of being cut off from all retreat by a superior enemy.
Accurate and minute surveys, which will enable our vessels, whether driven by an enemy or by stress of weather, to shun the dangers which beset the navigation of these harbors, and properly arranged defences to cover them when arrived, seem to be indispensable. It is worthy of remark, besides, that on these harbors being fortified, the operation of investing the coast and watching the great outlet of commerce through the Florida gulf would be a difficult and hazardous one to an enemy, on whose part no perseverance or skill could avail to maintain an uninterrupted blockade, or to avoid the occasional shipwreck of his