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early as practicable, while, if we were to begin all at once, it would be long before we should be capable of defending ourselves anywhere.
We shall now enter upon the subject of the expense of erecting these works and garrisoning them for war, and compare it with the expense of defending the coast in its present state. To clear the subject as much as possible we shall only examine it with respect to Boston, Narraganset bay, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Norfolk, and New Orleans. Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia, would also be included if we knew the cost of the defences and the amount of garrison necessary.
Supposing an enemy had concentrated twenty thousand men at Halifax or Bermuda, the government must, on hearing of this force, at once prepare to resist it at all the points mentioned above; as it will be impossible to foresee on which the first blow will be struck, it will be necessary to have troops encamped at each. And to meet the attack with a force not less, numerically, than that of the assailant, the troops kept constantly under arms in each of these camps must at least equal one-half of the hostile expedition, while as many more are kept in readiness within call
. These points are so immediately accessible in some cases and so remote from succor in others, that, after the point of attack is announced by the appearance of the enemy before it, there will remain no time for re-enforcements to come from the interior.
By maneuvring in front of any of these places he would induce us to concentrate our forces there, when, suddenly profiting of a favorable breeze, he would sail to another, which he would reach in a few hours, and would not fail to seize if a force were not stationed there likewise equal to his own. No re-enforcements can in this case arrive from the interior in time, for all the troops under march would have taken up a direction upon the point he had just quitted.
Our whole coast from Maine to Louisiana would thus be kept in alarm by a single expedition, and such is the extent and exposure of the seaboard that an enemy would ruin us by a war of mere threatenings. If the cities are not garrisoned they will become his prey at once; and if they are, the treasury will be gradually emptied, the credit of the government exhausted, the wearied and starving militia will desert to their homes, and nothing can avert the direful consummation of tribute, pillage, and conflagration.
The table C joined to this report shows that to be in readiness on each of these vulnerable points it will be requisite to maintain 77,000 men, encamped and under arms at the seven places mentioned, and 63,000 ready to march and within call.
This number is in fact below that which would be required, for these points being exposed, according to our hypothesis, to an attack from 20,000 regular and disciplined troops, 20,000 militia would not be able to repel them unless aided by intrenchments, requiring a time to construct them which would not be allowed us, and involving expenses which we do not comprise in our estimate. Besides, to have 20,000 men, especially new levies, under arms, it will be necessary, considering the epidemics which always assail such troops, to carry the formation of these corps to at least 25,000 men.
The State of Louisiana being remote from succor requires a larger force under arms than the other points; we have fixed this force at 17,000, considering that the State might furnish 3,000 within call.
Considering all expenses, 1,000 regular troops, including officers, cost $300,000 per annum and $150 per man for a campaign of six months ; 1,000 militia, including officers, cost $400,000 per annum, $200 per man for a six months campaign.
But taking into consideration the diseases which invariably attack men unaecustomed to a military life, and the consequent expense of hospital establishments; the frequent movement of detachments from the camp to their homes and from the interior to the camp, and the cost of camping furniture, utensils, accou
trements, &c., which is the same for a short campaign as for a year; the cost of a militiaman cannot be reckoned at less than $250 per man for six months.
The seventy-seven thousand militiamen necessary to guard the above mentioned points, in the present situation of the maritime frontier, will therefore cost, in a campaign of six months, $19,250,000.
In strict justice there should be added to the expense, which is, we believe, much undervalued, amongst other things, the loss of time and diminution of valuable products resulting from draining off so considerable a portion of efficient labor from its most profitable occupation. This, besides being a heavy tax on individuals, is a real loss to the nation. It would be utterly vain to attempt an estimate of the loss to the nation, from the dreadful mortality which rages in the camps, of men suddenly exposed to the fatigues and privations of military life, or to compare the respective values in society of the citizen and the soldier.
The total expense of constructing the works at Boston, Narraganset bay, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Norfolk, and New Orleans, will amount to $13,764,073 08, (see table B, and previous reports.) Their garrisons may consist of the same number of regular troops in time of war as in time of peace, the remainder being furnished by the militia, held in readiness to throw themselves into the forts on the first appearance of an enemy. By this arrangement 2,980 regulars and 24,000 militia, either in the works or in small corps on advantageous positions, making 26,980 men, would suffice after the erection of the works; 43,020 being kept in readiness to march when called upon.
We should, therefore, have only 26,980 to pay and support, instead of 77,000; and the expense would be $6,447,000, instead of $19,250,000. The difference, $12,803,000, being only $961,073 08 less than the whole cost of the fortifications, it follows that the expense of their erection will be nearly compensated by the saving they will cause in a single campaign of six months.
It is proper to add, that though the expense of these works will be great, that expense is never to be renewed; while with troops, on the contrary, the expense is annually repeated, if not increased, until the end of the war. Besides, the disbursements for fortifications are made in time of peace, slowly, and to an extent exactly correspondent with the financial resources of the country. Armies are, however, most wanted, and must be paid in periods of great emergency, when the ordinary sources of revenue are dried up and when the treasury can only be supplied by a resort to means the most disagreeable and burdensome to
The defence of our maritime frontier by permanent fortifications, and even the disbursements for their construction, will thus tend to a real and positive economy. The vulnerable points being reduced to a small number, instead of waiting an attack on every point, and holding ourselves everywhere in readiness to repel it, we shall force an enemy to direct his assaults against those few, which, being well understood by us, will of course have received a timely preparation.
There can be no doubt that such a state of things will make an adversary more reluctant to risk his expeditions, and that we shall not only therefore be better able to resist but also be less frequently menaced with invasion.
Some prominent military writers have opposed the principle of fortifying an extensive land frontier, but none have ever disputed the necessity of fortifying & maritime frontier. The practice of every nation, ancient and modern, has been the same in this respect. On a land frontier a good, experienced, and numerous infantry may in some cases dispense with fortifications; but though disciplined troops may cover a frontier without their aid, undisciplined troops cannot. On a maritime frontier, however, no description of troops can supply the place of strong batteries disposed upon the vulnerable points. The uncertainty of the point on which an enemy may direct his attack, the suddenness with which he may reach it, and the powerful masses which he can concentrate at a distance out of our reach and knowledge, or suddenly, and at the very mo
ment of attack, require that every important point be duly prepared to repel his attempt or retard it until re-enforcements can arrive and adequate means of resistance be organized. By land we are acquainted with the motions of an enemy, with the movements and direction of its columns; we know the roads by which he must pass, but the ocean is a vast plain without obstacle; there his movements are made out of our sight, and we know nothing of his approach until he is already within the range of the eye. In a word, unless the vulnerable points of a sea-coast frontier are covered by permanent fortifications, their only chance of safety must depend on the issue of a battle, always uncertain, even when disciplined and well-appointed troops inured to danger have made all possible preparation for the combat.
As for the garrisons which these forts will require in time of war, a small portion equal in number to the peace garrisons should be of regular troops: the surplus of militia, practiced in the manœuvres and drill of great guns; it being necessary that the greatest part of the troops required for the defence and service of the sea-coast fortifications should be artillery.
This brings us to a suggestion or two in relation to the organization of the militia forces. Instead of the present small proportion of artillery the States might with advantage increase the amount of that force in the vicinity of each of the exposed parts of the coast, so as to be equivalent to the exigencies and armament of the works; substituting for the usual field exercises as infantry. actual drill and practice in the batteries. As soon as a movement on the part of the enemy would threaten the frontier of the State this force should throw itself into the forts and there remain as long as the precise point of attack should remain uncertain. In most parts of the seaboard it would also be advisable to have a considerable body of militia horse artillery, as being an useful arm in all cases, and as affording a defence, always applicable, against minor and predatory enterprises. This force might, in part, be drawn from the common proportion of cavalry.
In the report we have taken no account of the interior and land frontiers of the Union; they have not yet been sufficiently reconnoitred to enable us to give an exact idea of the system of defensive works they may require. All that we can say by anticipation is, that from their general topographical features, these frontiers can be covered at a very moderate expense so effectually that no enemy will be able to invade them without exposing himself to disasters, nearly inevitable; and that the troops of the United States, supposing all her warlike preparations well arranged beforehand, will be able, at the opening of the first campaign, to carry the theatre of war beyond her own territory.
If to our general system of permanent fortifications and naval establishments we connect a system of interior communications by land and water, adapted both to the defence and to the commercial relations of the country; if to these we add a well constituted regular army, and perfect the organization of our militia, the nation will not only completely secure its territory, but preserve its institutions from those violent shocks and revolutions which, in every age and in every country, have been so often incident to a state of war.
Table A, following, contains the works constituting the proposed defensive system for the maritime frontier, divided into four classes.
Table B contains a list of such existing works as it is contemplated to retain as accessaries to the system.
Table C exhibits a comparison of the cost of defending certain important parts of the coast, in their present condition, and with the aid of the projected works.
Table D shows a possible concentration of militia forces, in eleven days, at Boston, Massachusetts; Newport, Rhode Island ; New York, New York; Phil. adelphia, Pennsylvania; Baltimore, Maryland; Norfolk, Virginia; Charleston, South Carolina; Savannah, Georgia; and New Orleans, Louisiana. All which is respectfully submitted.
JOSEPH G. TOTTEN,
Members of the Board of Engineers Brevet Major General Alex. MACOMB,
Colonel Commanding United States Engineers.
Showing the distribution, as now existing and as contemplated for the year 1826, of the corps of engineers, consisting of one colonel,
one lieutenant colonel, two majors, six captains, six first and six second lieutenants, in all twenty-two officers, besides four breret
of the numbers
of the numbers as progressively enlarged by the annual addition.
For the present
and for 1826,
For 1826, three added ; whole number, 29.
For 1827, three added ; whole number, 32.
For 1828, three
For 1829, three
For 1830, three
For 1831, four
equal to 26.
Mount Desert, Maine.............