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factures, rather than agriculture, will probably ever constitute the chief industrial pursuits of that distant State.
And until California has the means of deriving a support from the back country she must look for it to the sea; therefore an enemy, by taking up his position before the harbor of California in force sufficient to establish a rigid blockade, may, without striking a blow, starve the people into terms of surrender.
The greater the number of men in garrison, in such a case, and the larger the army sent there by us for its defence, the greater the distress; for the reason that they would the sooner eat out the substance of the land, and so assist the enemy
in his work of starvation. A railway to California would make that country as invulnerable and as secure from invasion as railroads have made the country on this side of the Rocky mountains; and with a railway a blockade would only annoy commerce, not starve the people. In a consideration of the soundest policy this railway is called for. I have
a studied the subject, and the result of my best reflections with regard to it has led me to the opinion that the general government cannot too soon take the steps necessary and proper for procuring it to be built, and for collecting at the other end of it the nucleus of a navy, with powers of expansion sufficient to meet any probable emergency.
The vessels of our návy serving in the Pacific, instead of being brought home around Cape Horn for repairs, should be laid up in ordinary in California until sufficient numbers are gradually collected there to form this nucleus. The commerce of the country will supply the seamen for them whenever they shall be required.
My answer to your second question, viz: “What reliance could be placed on vessels-of-war, or of commerce, Hoating batteries, gunboats, and other temporary substitutes for permanent fortifications ?” is, to a great extent, included in the answer just given to your first.
The defences upon which this country must and ought to rely are locomotive; therefore, to employ naval means to build foating batteries, which would have to be confined to the limits of the harbor, would be a waste of money, when we might, with that same money, give them wings or impart to them the breath of steam, and send them here and there wherever they would be of most avail.
The money which a floating battery would cost might keep a steamer afloat; which, with its powers of locomotion, might reduplicate itself, as it were, along the coast, by appearing successively before a number of places, and arriving at each place exactly at the right time. If the enemy would not come to the floating battery it would be of little use; but as for the steamer, if the enemy would not come to it, it could go to the enemy; it could select its own time, manner, and point of attack, and thus make up by activity, skill, and manæuvre, what it wants in strength,
The reliance to be placed on vessels of commerce for coast defences is casual and accidental; upon an emergency they might be armed and sent to sea to harass the commerce of the enemy; they might be used as transports or as fire-ships; or they might be sunk in chamel-ways to block up entrances, &c., and to assist the works on shore to protect the towns. When wanted, they will be at hand; and in planning military expeditions, or preparing for defence, it is enough for our sea captains and great generals to know that the commercial marine-old hulks and new vessels—are among their means of attack and defence, and constitute an important part of the military resources which they hold in reserve—which are at all times available, and which, therefore, may be brought into play when required.
The report of the board of engineers of 1840 treats the subject of floating batteries at length. It shows conclusively that they are neither the most efficient, effective, nor judicious shape into which the money voted for national defonce may be put.
The arguments of the board upon this part of their subject appear to me conclusive; and, therefore, further remarks here with regard to Hoating batteries would be useless.
A prominent idea upon which the system of 1816 appears to have been founded is, that we as a naval power were to remain in hopeless inferiority; and hence the burden of the argument for a system of national defence has been “ build stationary works—works that the enemy must come after ; line the coasts with forts and castles to save the country from invasion, our women and children from the violence of enemies.”
Railroads and steam have converted every village into a camp, every telegraph office into a watch-tower, on which is placed a sentinel more sleepless than Argus, for guarding and defending the coast from invasion. Steam, and railroads, and canals have connected every forest in the land into a timber shed for the navy, and our merchants and ship-builders have established scores of dock yards along the sea shore, and upon the banks of our rivers, at which keels may be laid and vessels launched and equipped with a rapidity that has never before been known in any age or country.
In 1836 General Cass, thep Secretary of War, assumed the position, and General Jackson indorsed it,* that for the defence of the coast the chief reliance . should be on the navy; and that the system of 1816 (that of the board of engineers) comprises works which are unnecessarily large for the purposes which they have to fulfil
At that time steam navigation was a problem which had yet to be solved upon the ocean. Dr. Lardner had attempted it in the closet, and proved, as he said, that the conditions of the problem involved an impossibility. He therefore pronounced it an absurdity; and so men generally considered it. At that time railroads were much less complete, and far less numerous than they now a re. The electric telegraph was also unknown.
Now the ocean is clouded with the smoke of sea steamers; the country is laced with lines of telegraph, and fretted with a network of railways—all tending to make reliance upon the navy still more exclusive, dependence upon system of 1816 still more needless.
The board of engineers, to show how erroneous, in their judgment, this opinion of General Jackson was, supposed a case in 1836, and cited it again in 1840 as an illustration.
The case was well put; it produced a great effect upon the public mind; and as it is the hinge upon which the continuation of the present system was made to turn, I beg leave to quote the case now, that we may see how it will stand the test of the new condition of things; how the improvements that have since taken place will affect it, and how far it may be modified by the ground I have been endeavoring to make good.
" In the report," says the board of 1840,7 presented by the engineer department in March, 1836, (Senate Document, 1st session 24th Congress, vol. 4, No. 293) " there is a demonstration of the actual economy that will result from an efficient system of sea-coast defence; which is to the following effect, referring to the document itself for detail.:
“ There is first supposed to be an expedition of twenty thousand men at Bermuda or Halifax ready to fall upon the coast. This will make it necessary, if there be no fortifications, to have ready a force at least equal at each of the following points, namely: 1st, Portsmouth and navy yard ; 2d, Boston and navy
• See page 5, No. 206 H Doc., Ist session 26th Congress. See also page 1, No. 293 S. Dc, Ist session 24th ongress.
| Page 70, No. 206 H. Doc., st session 26th Congress.
yard; 3d, Narraganset roads; 4th, New York and navy yard ; 5th, Philadelphia and navy yard ; 6th, Baltimore ; 7th, Norfolk and navy yard; Sth, Charleston, South Carolina ; 9th, Savannah; and 10th, New Orleans, to say nothing of other important places.
“At each of these places, except the last, ten thousand men drawn from the interior, and kept under pay, will suffice, the vicinity being relied on to supply the remainder. "At New Orleans, seventeen thousand men must be drawn from a distance. In a campaign of six months, the whole force will cost at least $26,750,000.
“ The garrisons necessary to be kept under pay for the fortifications in these places will cost for the same time $8,430,500. The difference ($18,319,500) will then be only $3,448,150 less than the whole expense of building these defences, viz: $21,767,656 ; whence it follows that the expense of these erections would be nearly compensated by the saving they would cause in a single campaign.”
This is the demonstration, first given in 1836, and repeated in 1810, to prove the very great economy and complete efficiency of the system of 1816 ; and in order to complete this demonstration, it was required that twenty-one millions of money and upwards should be first given to fortify only ten places along a sea front of two thousand five hundred* miles in extent; for there were “other important places," of which nothing was to be said.
Now let us suppose that, in conformity with the modifications which I have suggested, and according to the idea of maintaining such a system of national defence that will secure to us the naral supremacy in our own waters, a portion of this $8,430,500 which the plan of the board requires to keep for six months only the “ necessary garrisons” in the powerful works which are supposed to be erected at each one of the ten threatened places. Let us suppose, I say, that, according to the proposed modifications of the system, a part of this eight and a half millions had been applied to the building of some twenty or twenty-five men-of-war steamers, such a force of steamers would be required, even under the system of the engineers, to serve as a coast guard in war, to brush from the outside of our harbors, which are protected on the inside by forts, any blockading ships that the enemy may station there, and to keep straggling cruisers from capturing and plundering our merchantmen in the sight of these same forts, and along our shores generally.
To keep up the proposed garrisons for one year at the ten threatened places only, would require, according to the estimate of the board of engineers thein selves, $16,861,000.
The steamers will last many years; and according to the estimate of the navy board,t made at the same time, would cost, for the twenty-five, $5,625,000, or only about one-third of the actual cost of the garrisons for one year, after the forts were built at a cost of $21,767,656.
These twenty-five steamers would be stationed along the coast, and distributed, we may suppose, in the following manner, viz: two with their headquarters at Portsmouth, three at Boston, four at New York, two at Charleston, two at Pensacola, and two at the Balize.
The case put supposes it to be known that this expedition of twenty thousand men, who are about to invade a country of more than twenty millions, has rendezvoused at Halifax or Bermuda, suppose it to be at Halifax.
Two or three of these twenty-five smart, active steamers are sent to watch the enemy's movements. As soon as he puts to sea and takes his departure, one of them makes for the nearest post on our coast, and there delivers to the
See Engineer's (Col Totten's) Report, 1840.
magnetic telegraph the intelligence that the enemy has put to sea, and is steering, with his expedition of twenty thousand strong, towards Charleston. The effect is electrical; instantly bodies of armed men heeding the summons would spring up, not from bush and brake, in a single glen, as at the sound of Roderick Dhu's whistle, but from every town and hamlet, mountain side and valley in the land. Harnessing up the iron war-horse, they would hold him, panting on the railway, ready at the word to speed off with them for the appointed place, at the rate of thirty, forty, or fifty miles the hour, according to the emergency.
In the meantime, and without confusion, message is sent by lightning for the look-out steamers and naval forces in the Gulf to proceed towards Savannah, and for those at the north to steer south and look into the Chesapeake for further orders. Or they may be directed to cross the enemy's hause and bring him to action, or cut off his stragglers, or otherwise harass and annoy
him. At the end of three or four days, or it may be a week or more, according to the weather, and the great variety of circumstances that tend to retard the movements of such a force at sea, another of the guarda costa steamers puts into the capes of the Delaware or elsewhere, with the certain intelligence that the enemy is bound for Charleston. Because his rate of sailing is regulated by the speed of the slowest vessel in the fleet, he is yet three days from Charleston at the least.
All our ships-of-war that have returned from cruises, that are just fitting out, or that may happen to be in port, together with the whole coast guard of twentyfive steamers which, at the commencement of the war, were found on hand, may thus appear off Charleston as soon as he: certainly they would be there before he could disembark. And should he be so infatuated as to attempt a landing, it would be practicable for us to have there, in force ready to receive him, an army, with a regiment even of foot, from every State in the Union, except perhaps California and Oregon.
Is it possible that an enemy could be tempted by any inducement whatever to land in such a country, provided with such means of defence, invested with such armed ubiquity, and such powers of concentration ?
Fort Moultrie, which has beleagured an enemy before, and has demonstrated that it can hold a force from sea in check long enough at least for the lightning to go for help, and for steam to come with it, is there to beleaguer him again; and our coast fleet, which we have supposed to be assembled there as a witness to this hypothetical attempt at invasion, would be ready at the bar to receive this discomfited and crippled foe as he attempted to escape. Great would be the disappointment to the country if such a fleet should fail to give an account of such an enemy.
The present system of fortifications seems to have been planned upon the idea that in all wars this country was to stand on the defensive, and that all the energies of the enemy would be directed to siege and invasion.
But in the death struggle, what have we to fear from invasion? There is no pillar nor post in this country which, like the Paris of France, when it falls, carries the whole political edifice with it. There is no Paris in America. Unlike Europe, the armed occupation of a capital here would be no more than the occupation of any other town by an enemy; unlike Europe, there are no disaffected people in this country for a foe to tamper with. The government is by the people, for the people, and with the people. It is the people. And as for invasion, there would be neither danger to the country, nor its government, nor its institutions. Our free institutions are our best fortifications to protect the country from siege, and the land from invasion. Captivating the minds of his soldiers, the civil and political freedom enjoyed by all in these United States would convert the rank and file of an invading foe into friends. An enemy planting his foot upon our soil could at best hold no more of it than that upon which he actually stands and covers with his guns. If he attempted to move,
in whatever direction he should take up the line of march, the people in front he would find enemies, and those that he left behind, emboldened by his own deserters, would rise up in arms against him the moment his presence was withdrawn from them.
What attempts at invasion did England make during the last war? She was afraid of desertion and the propagandism of republican institutions then. It is true, she made a foray upon Washington, but found a precipitate retreat necessary, and that foray was as barren and empty of military result as a elond without water. She attempted New Orleans, but there she encountered one of those sand-bag or cotton-bag forts, and her hosts fell before it.
In the war of 1812 we were young and feeble; England was at the summit of her power. The difference between the military condition of the two countries was immense; yet upon what point along the seaboard did she attempt invasion? Against what battery did she lay siege? If in the defenceless state of the country then--a country that had a navy to build, that had yet to plan its system of fortifications, to concentrate means of defence—if, under those circumstances, sieges were not laid nor invasion attempted at any point along an open sea front, with its indentations and windings of six thousand miles—if but with one-third of our present population-if with not one-tenth part of our present military resources, nor not the twentieth of our present powers of concentration, siege and invasion were not attempted then by a most haughty and proud foe, is it likely that in case of war now, when she looks upon us as her equal, and at least as her match in everything except in the number of “wooden walls ” — is it probable or possible that, with such a power for an enemy now, anything like siege or invasion from the sea would be attempted or thought of?
With a home squadron comprised chiefly of steamers, it would be difficult to conceive how an enemy should so threaten as to make it necessary to establish a garrison of 17,000 or even 10,000 men for six months at Charleston or any one of the ten places named in the report.
The operations of these twenty-five steamers would be mostly confined to our own waters in war, for with want of depots of coal abroad they would be required to return into port at the end of every two or three weeks at least for a fresh supply of fuel.
Now bearing in mind my answer to your first question, and always supposing that one of the principal features in the system of national defence hereafter to be provided for this country is naval supremacy for it in its own wuters, my answer to your second question is, with the modifications already proposed, that all needful “ reliance” for coast defence can be placed on vessels-of-war and of commerce, upon open shore batteries, steam, railroads, and telegraph, OU'R FREB INSTITUTIONS, and such like “substitutes for permanent fortifications."
In reply to your third and last question, as to the expediency of continuing the present system of fortifications on the shores of the northern lakes, I have to remark that, in my judgment, it is neither necessary nor expedient so to do.
As for invasion from that quarter, the difference in political condition between Canada and the United States is an ample fortification for us.
Large bodies of the people there now are known to be in favor either of separation from the mother country or of annexation to the United States.
An American army, therefore, going over into Canada in a war with England would be looked upon by a large number of the people there as friends and deliverers, not as enemies and oppressors.
The last war on the waters of the lakes was a war of ship-building.
Ile who could muster the strongest naval forces there—and there they had to be created—had the supremacy. And if, in case of war now, England should succeed in getting ahead of us with her naval forces on the lakes she conid inflict great injury. A few days of uninterrupted control there by a few armed vessels, insignificant altogether as to absolute force, would make dreadful havoe