Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

pounders; one of them exploded in her hull near the water's edge, tore out a great part of her side, when she sank almost immediately.

All these results are calculated to show the effect of hollow shot fired horizontally from what is generally called Paixhan guns against shipping, and proves the efficacy of sea-coast defences armed with such artillery.

Of the effect of such a fire against forts, from ships or steamers, I recall to mind that of the French fleet under Joumanville, against the castle of St. Juan d'Ulloa, when a shell entering an embrasure, passed into a magazine through an unprotected door, and blew it up.

In 1840, the steam frigates Phænix, Stranbole, Gorgon, and Vesuvius, were of the fleet that made an attack upon St. Jean d'Acre. They shelled the town with long guns, from positions beyond gun-range of the batteries, during the attack by the ships-of-the-line, keeping beyond the range of the shore batteries.

During the Carlist war, in Spain, several English steamers presented themselves against the land batteries, but retired on receiving the first fire from the land.

Other than the several instances herein referred to I can recall to mind now, and they all go to show that the use of columbiads is a most reliable means of protecting our harbors against ships or steamers.

Another improvement having a bearing on this subject is that of submarine artillery. Fulton's efforts with torpedoes were of little avail during his lifetime. The attempts upon the English ship Plantagenet, in Lynnhaven bay, and upon Admiral Warren's fleet, off New London, during the war of 1812 to 1815, which proved abortive, are the only instances I am aware of with these machines. Since his death, however, a new agent—that of electro-galvanism—has come into use, enabling us to explode a shell or magazine of powder under water at any particular instant of time. This power may be made auxiliary in the defence of our coast, in the channels over which hostile vessels must pass in approaching our cities; but it can only be of use in connexion with forts, from which the electro-agent is worked, and from whence to protect the torpedoes until the proper moment of using them, as well as from whence to ascertain the exact instant of time in firing them. An undefended position will not admit of their successful application. It is an uncertain auxiliary in the defence of our ship channels, yet one that would be resorted to by officers acquainted with its advantages. Gutta-percha elastic tubes, within which the wires may be protected, is another modern invention, facilitating the use of the electro-galvanic mode of instantaneous explosion.

The effect of the railroad is to economize greatly the military resources of the nation, by relying upon a much smaller disciplined force to act against hostile landings. For example, the same troops that would operate against a hostile army moving on Boston, would suffice to act against the same force that should afterwards attempt to march upon New York, Philadelphia, or Baltimore, or Washington. Before their transports could pass from one to the other, the railroad could transport the army to oppose

them. It is a knowledge of an enemy's movements only that is necessary to enable us to take advantage of the railroad speed of transportation; and here the more recent discovery of the electro-telegraph comes into valuable use. But there is nothing in these inventions or improvements that lessens the importance and necessity of opposing the powerful floating armaments that can be brought against us by equally powerful batteries; for let me again repeat, that a myriad of men, with rifles and other small arms, is nothing against a ship's broadside.

One other change in modern artillery deserves to be noticed: During the last half century the calibre of the guns mounted on board ships-of-war has greatly increased, and made it necessary to increase the power of the batteries that may be constructed to oppose them. Objections have sometimes been taken to the power of our sea-coast batteries; a little reflection will, I doubt not, show the necessity of their being made equal, in all respects, to the batteries by which they can be assailed.

From 1776 to 1783 frigates of thirty-two, twenty-eight, and twenty-four guns mounted twelve-pounders on their main deck.

In 1800 most of the English frigates mounted twelve and eighteen-pounders. In February of that year the admiralty ordered all ships of twenty-four and twenty guns to be fitted on the main deck for thirty-two pounder carronades, in lieu of the long NINE-POUNDERS hitherto carried. The Danish forty-gun ship Freya

mounted eighteen-pounders. The Danish vessels at Copenhagen, attacked by Nelson, mounted

Forty-eight thirty-six-pounders.
Three hundred and sixty twenty-four-pounders.
Seventy eighteen-pounders.
Ninety-eight twelve-pounders.

Fifty-two eight-pounders.
Nelson's fleet mounted-

One hundred and forty thirty-two-pounders.
Seventy-four twenty-four-pounders.
One hundred and ninety-two eighteen-pounders.
Twenty-two twelve-pounders.
One hundred and fourteen nine-pounders.

Six six-pounders; together with carronades. 1805. The Victory, Nelson's flagship at Trafalgar, mounted on her first deck, long thirty-two-pounders ; second deck, long twenty-four-pounders ; third deck, long twelve-pounders; quarter deck and forecastle, twelve-pounders, and two sixty-eight-pounders, carronades. The French admiral's ship, in the same action, mounted thirty-two and eighteen-pounders; thirty of the eighteenpounders on her upper deck. The Tarinant, of ninety guns, mounted eighteenpounders on her main deck. The Belle Isle has twenty-four-pounders on her main deck. The San Ildefonsa had fifty-eight long twenty-four-pounders on the first and second decks ; four long eight-pounders and ten thirty-six-pounders, carronades, on the quarter deck and forecastle.

1808. The Caledonia, English ship of one hundred and twenty-two guns, launched this year, mounted on first deck, thirty-two-pounders; second deck, twenty-four-pounders; third deck, eighteen-pounders; quarter deck, twelvepounders and thirty-two-pounders, carronades, and the same calibre on the forecastle; on the roundhouse she carried eighteen-pounders.

1811. France had no frigate, and England only four that carried long twentyfour-pounders, at this date.

1820. At this date France ordered thirty and thirty-two-pounders for all their ships-of-war.

1839. Finally, the English, on the 20th of February of this year, ordered all her ships-of-war to be armed with thirty-two and sixty-eight-pounders.

1851. By referring to another part of this memoir, it will be seen that an eighty-one-gun ship-of-the-line is now mounted with the tremendous battery of thirty-two-pounders and eight-inch guns.

This regular increase demands, on our part, a like armament, and that we relax nothing in the artillery for the defence of the coast, requiring more time to build, and stronger works to receive and resist such artillery.

3d. How far vessels-of-war, steam batteries, ordinary merchant ships, and steamers, and other temporary expedients, can be relied upon as a substitute for permanent fortifications for the defence of our large seaports ?

It follows, from what has been said under the two previous heads, that a nation may rely upon a navy as a substitute for fortifications, in a great measure, for the defence of not only her large seaports, but for her coasts generally. The two cases of France and England exemplifying that either a fleet or fortifications have heretofore sufficed.

The great question that arises, in adapting the one or the other exclusively, will be the cost, the efficiency at the eventful moment, and the consequences, in a political point of view, of directing such immense resources as dependence upon a fleet would require to a system that has its advantage in throwing the evils of war from our shores at the same time that its success brings a spirit of conquest and aggrandizement, limited only by the extent to which the nation may be led by the glory its arms shall achieve.

My opinion is, that sound policy calls upon us to adopt the mixed system of permanent batteries in conjunction with ships-of-the-line and war steamers.

If we adopt a floating system, we must make ourselves superior afloat to our enemy. Every seaport and dock yard must be provided with its own floating batteries, available for its waters and adjacent shoals. The great estuaries leading into the heart of the country must each be watched and protected. The floating defences that will protect Boston cannot secure the Hudson, Delaware, Chesapeake, southern coast, Gulf of Mexico, and Pacific, at one and the same time. Nor can we place reliance upon our superior fleet blockading our enemy in his ports. The fallacy of this reliance is exemplified by the sailing of the Yavlan fleet and transports no less than three times without being perceived, and being afloat in the narrow sea of the Mediterranean fifty-two days, notwithstanding all the watchfulness of the English fleet; a single detachment of the enemy's fleet escaping the blockade, sails for any of our harbors, where it must be met either by floating or land batteries. Hence, we have no alternative but a decided superiority, if we place reliance upon floating batteries.

These floating defences are of the most perishable character, and enormously expensive in first cost and repairs, compared with land batteries. To have some idea of the cost of fleets, let us look to the history of Europe.

The French estimate that a ship will last but twelve years; and to have forty ships-of-the-line and fifty frigates in commission, it is necessary to have fiftythree ships-of-the-line and sixty frigates, so great and constant are the necessary repairs. The fact was stated to the French Chamber by C. Dupin, as deduced from their own experience.

The cost of maintaining the French fleet annually, from 1689 to 1789, was averaged...

$7,808,000 From 1776 to 1783 was averaged

19,400,000 1783 to 1786 it was .

12,600,000 For the year 1797..do .

16,700,000 1805..do

28,000,000 1808..do

22,000,000 1814..do

10,200,000 1816..do

9,600,000 1818..do ..

8,640,000 In 1837 the Chambers voted

10,800,000 In 1847....... do ...,

18,053,908 The cost of maintaining the navy of the United States for forty-one years, from 1792 to 1832, inclusive, was $112,097,122, giving an annual average of ...

$2,734,076 From 1812 to 1815, inclusive, it amounted to

26,376,215 The annual average being (four years)..

6,594,053 From 1831 to 1837,....

31,393,151 The annual average being (six years).

5,232,191 The cost of maintaining the navy, of Great Britain, from 1799 to 1851, (not including 1841 to 1844,) a period of forty-one years, amounts to the sum of ..

$2,283,645,277

The annual average being (forty-nine ycars)..
From 1799 to 1815, fifteen years of war....
The annual average being ..
From 1816 to 1851, not including 1841 to 1844
The annual average being (thirty-two years).

$46,604,284 1,356,248,803

79,779,341 927,395,437 28,981,106

These enormous sums enable us to form some judgment of the gradual increase in the annual expenses of maintaining a navy, and the expenses in periods of peace, compared with war. Now let us examine into the magnitude of the fleets of Europe, at different points, to form some idea of the number of ships we must have to secure that superiority that will justify our reliance upon floating defences.

The French fleet, by no means the strongest we are likely to contend with, consists of the following number of large ships at the period stated:

In 1789... .81 ships-of-the-line, and 69 frigates. March, 1791.. .73........do........67...do. Dec., 1791.. .86...

..do. ..78...do. 1792.

.82. ..do. ..68...do. Feb., 1793.. ..75........do... ..59...do. 1801.

..do. .35...do. June, 1814.. 73. ...do... 41...do. 1817. ..68.

.38...do. 1827.

.59.. ...do... ..51...do. 1828. ..59.

.51...do. July, 1829... ..33........do.... ..41...do. only.

At this date she was building eighty ships to restore her navy and replace the rotten and decayed ships.

In 1837 she had one hundred and fifty-three ships afloat, and in 1847 she had two hundred and sixteen ships afloat, sixty-six of which were steamers.

The study of the above shows the losses that the vanquished have to sustain from time to time-an item to be more particularly stated hereafter.

The following table gives a more enlarged view of the strength of the different naval powers:

..39.

...do...

..do...

Fleets of the different nations in 1783, 1793, 1829, and 1840.

[blocks in formation]

578 353 16 64 33 115 48

57 Having now some data upon which to judge of the number of ships we must have as a substitute for permanent fortifications for the defence of our coast, let us now examine the losses that must be sustained by a reliance upon floating defences, as conqueror and conquered.

Loss of the English fleet during the war from 1793 to 1801. Captured, destroyed, wrecked, foundered, and burnt: Ships-of-the-line ..

20 Under the line

145

[blocks in formation]

Loss of the French, Dutch, Spanish and Danish ships during the same war. Captured, destroyed, wrecked, foundered, and burnt: Ships-of-the-line.

84 Under the line, of which 150 were frigates .

234

Total ...

318

Loss of the English fleet during the war from May, 1803, to July, 1815. Captured, destroyed, wrecked, foundered, and burnt: Ships-of-the-line

13 Under the line

304

Total ...

317

« AnteriorContinua »