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project for the floating defences of the Delaware considered, and perhaps the size of the proposed work reduced.
For a work at the Breakwater.- Until the effect of the deposits which are going on in this important artificial harbor are fully ascertained, I consider it injudicious to erect a permanent work for its defence. Another year will, perhaps, settle the question, and if the result is favorable, an adequate fortification should be constructed here without delay.
For a fort on the Patuxent river, and a fort at Cedar Point.—Both of these works are liable to some of the objections stated, and I think they had better be postponed for more mature consideration.
For fortifications at the mouth of the St. Mary's, Georgia. This proposition may also be safely submitted to examination.
T'he estimate for steam batteries may be reduced to $100,000. That sum can be profitably employed.
If these appropriations are early made, most if not all of these works can be put in operation this season, and the money usefully applied, as fast as their progress will justify; And I think the measure would be expedient. But it is to be remembered that the power of the department to push them, during the present year, will depend on the reorganization of the corps of engineers. If that corps is not increased, it will be unnecessary to make the appropriations in the bill before the Senate, as the objects contained in the other bill will be sufficient to occupy the time of the present officers of the corps.
Should it be deemed proper to re-examine the subject of the proposed fortifications generally, I would then recommend that an appropriation of $30,000 be made to defray the expenses of a board, including surveyors, &c.
My reflections upon the whole subject lead to the following practical suggestions on the great subject of the measures for the defence of the country:
1. An augmentation of the navy, upon the principles before stated.
Having already, in two of the annual reports I have had the honor to make to you, expressed my sentiments upon this subject, I have nothing new to lay before you, either with relation to its general importance, or to the necessary practical details. I consider it one of the most momentous topics that can engage the attention of Congress; and the day that sees a plan of organization adopted, suited to the habits of our people and the nature of our institutions, and fitted to bring into action the physical strength of the country, with a competent knowledge of their duty, and just ideas of discipline and subordination, will see us the strongest nation, for the purposes of self-defence, on the face of the globe. Certainly such an object is worthy the attention of the legislature.
3. The cultivation of military science, that we may keep pace with the improvements which are made in Europe, and not be compelled to enter into a contest with an adversary whose superior knowledge would give him pre-eminent advantages. War is an advancing science. Many an original genius and many an acute intellect are at all times at work upon it; and the European communities have such a relation to one another that the profession of arms is peculiarly encouraged, and every effort made to place their military establishments, not at the highest numerical point, but in the best condition for efficient service, both with respect to its morale and materiel. It is not by the mere reading of professional authors that the necessary instruction in this branch of knowledge can be obtained; there must be study and practice; a union of principles and details, which can best be obtained by a course of education directed to this object. This, I think, is one of the greatest advantages of the Military Academy. It cannot have escaped the recollection of those who were upon the theatre of action at the commencement of the last war, that the first year was almost spent in a series of disasters, which, however, brought their advantages. We were comparatively ignorant of the state of military science, and we did not fully recover
our true position till we had received many severe lessons: at what an expense of life and treasure need not be stated.
4. The skeleton of a regular establishment, to which any necessary additions may be made, securing, at the same time, economy, with a due power sion, and the means of meeting a war with all the benefit of a regularly organized force. This object is attained by our present army.
5. The preparation and proper distribution of all the munitions of war, agreeably to the views hereinafter submitted.
6. I think all the defensive works now in the process of construction should be finished, agreeably to the plans upon which they have been projected.
7. All the harbors and inlets upon the coast, where there are cities or towns whose situation and importance create just apprehension of attack, and particularly where we have public naval establishments, should be defended by works proportioned to any exigency that may probably arise.
Having already presented my general views upon this branch of the inquiry, I need not repeat the practical limitations which I propose for adoption. But before any expenditure is incurred for new works, I think an examination should be made, in every case, in order to apply these principles to the proposed plan of operations, and thus reduce the expense of construction where this can properly be done, and, also, the eventual expense of maintaining garrisons required to defend works disproportioned to the objects sought to be attained. I would organize a board for this object, with special instructions for its government.
8. Provision should be made for the necessary experiments, to test the superiority of the various plans that may be offered for the construction and use of steam batteries; I mean batteries to be employed as accessories in the defence of the harbors and inlets, and in aid of the permanent fortifications.
The progressive improvement in the application of the power of steam renders it inexpedient, at any given time, to make extensive arrangements, connected with this class of works, with a view to their future employment. The improve-ment of to-day may be superseded by the experience of to-morrow; and modes of application may be discovered before any exigency arises rendering a resort to these defences necessary, which may introduce an entire revolution into this department of art and industry. Still, however, experiments should be made, and a small number of these vessels constructed. Their proper draught of water, their form and equipment, the situation and security of their machinery, the number, calibre, and management of their guns, and the best form of the engines to be used, are questions requiring much consideration, and which can only be determined by experience. And there can be little doubt that suitable rewards would soon put in operation the inventive faculties of some of our countrymen, and lead to the tender of plans practically suited to the circumstances. As we acquire confidence by our experience, arrangements could be made for collecting and preparing the indestructible materials for the construction and equipment of these vessels, as far as such a measure may not interfere with any probable change, which at the time may be anticipated in the application of the power of steam.
9. I recommend a reconsideration of the project for fortifying the roadsteads or open anchorage grounds, and its better adaptation to the probable future circumstances of the country.
And I would suggest that the works which are determined on be pushed with all reasonable vigor, that our whole coast may be placed beyond the reach of injury or insult as soon as a just regard to circumstances will permit. No objections can arise to this procedure on the ground of expense, because, whatever system may be approved by the legislature, nothing will be gained by delaying its completion beyond the time necessary to the proper execution of the work. In fact, the cost will be greater the longer we are employed in it, not only for
H. Rep. Com. 86—6
obvious reasons, arising out of general superintendence and other contingencies, but because accidents are liable to happen to unfinished works, and the business upon them is deranged by the winter, when they must be properly secured ; and the season for resuming labor always finds some preparations necessary, which would not have been required had no interruption happened.
But the political considerations which urge forward this great object are entitled to much more weight. When once completed we should feel secure. There is probably not a man in the country who did not look with some solicitude during the past season at our comparatively defenceless condition, when the issue of our discussions with France was uncertain, and who did not regret that our preparations, during the long interval of peace we had enjoyed, had not kept pace with our growth and importance. We have now this lesson to add to our other experience. Adequate security is not only due from the government to the country, and the conviction of it is not only satisfactory, but the knowl. edge of its existence cannot fail to produce an influence upon other nations, as well in the advent of war itself, as in the mode of conducting it. If we are prepared to attack and resist, the chances of being compelled to embark in hostilities will be diminished much in proportion to our preparation. An unprotected commerce, a defenceless coast, and a military marine wholly inadequate to the wants of our service, would indeed hold out strong inducements to other nations to convert trifling pretexts into serious causes of quarrel.
There are two suggestions connected with the prosecution of our works which I venture to make :
First. That the corps of engineers should be increased. The reasons for this measure have been heretofore submitted, and the proposition has been recommended by you to Congress. I will merely add, upon the present occasion, that the officers of this corps are not sufficiently numerous for the performance of the duties committed to them; and that if an augmentation does not take place, the public interest will suffer in a degree far beyond the value of any pecuniary consideration connected with this increase; and,
Secondly. I think that when the plan of a work has been approved by Congress, and its construction authorized, the whole appropriation should be made at once, to be drawn from the treasury in annual instalments, to be fixed by the law. This mode of appropriation would remedy much of the inconvenience which has been felt for years in this branch of the public service. The uncertainty respecting the appropriations annually deranges the business, and the delay which biennially takes place in the passage of the necessary law reduces the alternate season of operations to a comparatively short period. An exact inquiry into the effect which the present system of making the appropriations has had upon the expense of the works would probably exhibit an amount far greater than is generally anticipated.
The report from the ordnance department shows the quantity and nature of the munitions of war, estimated to be eventually necessary, and their probable cost, including new establishments necessary for their fabrication and preservation. The conjectural amount is $29,955,537.
Believing it is not expedient at present to make any preparations upon a scale of this magnitude, I have deemed it proper to accompany this report with a brief statement of my own views, where I depart from the suggestions that are presented in this document.
As our fortifications are constructed, their armaments should be provided; and the amount in depot should at all times exceed the anticipated demand, to meet the casualties of the service. We have now on hand 1,818 new cannon for sea-coast defence; and about 1,000 others, most of which are either useless or of doubtful character. The works actually finished, or so far completed as to admit of a part of their armament being placed in them, require about 2,000 guns. They are calculated ultimately to mount about 600 more. Others in the process of construction will require about 1,400. So far we have certain data for our estimates; unless, indeed, which I am inclined to believe, it should not be found necessary ever to provide the full complement destined for the largest of these works. Beyond this, the subject is conjectural. And the quantity needed must depend upon the principles that may be adopted in the further progress of the system of fortifications. There are four private founderies at which the public cannon are cast. These, if their whole attention were devoted to the object, could manufacture from 1,200 to 1,500 annually. As to earriages and other supplies, the amount that could be procured within a reasonable period is almost indefinite. Iron carriages are now made for all the casemate batteries, and they have not only the advantage of indestructibility from the atmosphere, but, requiring no seasoned materials, they may be supplied by the founderies through the country to almost any extent.
We have two armories for the manufacture of small arms, and there are seven private establishments which fabricate arms for the government. All these supplies are of the best description, and are submitted to a rigid inspection, which prevents imposition. The armories can at present turn out about 27,000 arms annually, and probably 11,000 or 12,000 could be made at existing private establishments. Should any exigency require larger supplies, the quantity can be much increased. We have now on hand about 700,000 small arms, and there must have been issued to the States about 180,000 muskets, 25,000 rifles, 30,000 pistols, and 378 field cannon and carriages, under the act for arming the militia. If 100,000 of these muskets and rifles are preserved, there are in the country 800,000 of those species of arms belonging to the general or State governments.
What may be considered a proper supply is a question admitting much difference of opinion. It will be seen that the ordnance department fixes the amount at about 600,000, in addition to what are now on hand, and including the number necessary to arm the militia. We had, at the commencement of the last war, 240,000 muskets, and during its progress 60,000 more were made and purchased. At its termination there were but 20,000 at the various arsenals. The residue were in the hands of the troops, or had been lost in the service. This consumption was greater, I think, than was necessary, or than would probably again take place. A plan of accountability has been introduced, by which the men are charged with the arms they receive, and if these are improperly lost or injured, the value is deducted from their pay. The paymasters cannot settle with them till this matter is adjusted. The stock of small arms in Great Britain, in depot, in 1817, was.. 818,282 In the public service
The number in depot in France, in 1811, was 60,000, not including the great number in service.
My own impression, is that 1,000,000 small arms may be considered a competent supply for the l'nited States; and if so, a large deduction may be made from the estimate of the ordnance department under this head of expenditure. Although the component materials of these arms are almost imperishable, still it is not expedient to keep a stock unnecessarily large on hand, because there is not only some risk and expense in their preservation, but because, like
every other article manufactured by man, they are no doubt susceptible of great improvement. And it may be that those now made may be superseded by an improved model, which, once introduced, must be adopted, at whatever expense or inconvenience, by all nations. And the ingenious invention lately exhibited in this city, by which a series of balls, in separate charges, are brought by a rotary motion to a common place of discharge, suggests the possibility of a revolution in the form of our fire-arms.
On the subject of depots for these arms, I accord with the general suggestions mide by the colonel of ordnance. I think the number should be increased, and arms placed in every part of the country, ready to be used as circumstances may require.
It will be observed that, in the estimate I have made, I confine myself to the armament for the public service, connected with the actual defence of the country, whether to be used by the army or militia in time of war, but I do not extend my views to a supply for arming the militia, in order to discipline them in time of peace. The extent of this policy is a question not necessary in the consideration of the subject before me.
As the arms in depot approach whatever number may be assumed as the proper maximum, the necessity for additional armories becomes less. When our stock is once completed, the present armories, without any aid from the private establishments, will be able to supply the annual consumption. I think, therefore, that two additional armories, as suggested by the ordnance department, are not wanted. And, indeed, although there are considerations attending the transportation of the rude and the manufactured article, and other circumstances which would justify the establishment of a new armory upon the western waters at present, yet if the measure is not carried into effect soon its importance will annually diminish.
But a national foundery for cannon, both for the military and naval service, and perhaps two in different sections of the country, should be erected without delay. The best interests of the public require it. But I have nothing to add to the suggestions made upon this subject in my last annual report.
As to field artillery, the extent to which it shall be provided must depend upon the views of the legislature concerning the expediency of issuing it to the militia. If a more efficient organization does not take place I think the expenditure on this account may well be saved to the public treasury. I consider all attempts to improve the condition of the militia upon the present plan as so nearly useless that the whole system has become a burden upon the public without any corresponding advantage. The principal benefit which results from the existing state of things is the power to call into service sueh portions of the population as may be wanted. But this may be attained by a simple classification without the cumbrous machinery which at present creates expense and trouble, and which, while it promises little, performs still less. Very respectfully, sir, I have the honor to be, &c.,
LEWIS CASS. The PRESIDENT of the United States.
IVashington, March 30, 1836. SIR: In compliance with your instructions, I have the honor to submit herewith the copy of a report prepared in fulfilment of the requirement of the first inquiry contained in the resolution of the Senate of the 18th of February last,
The views presented by Colonel Totten on the subject are full and explicit, and are consonant with the principles heretofore advocated by this department. The report is therefore respectfully submitted without any further comments. Very respectfully, sir, your most obedient servant,
Chief Engineer Hon. LEWIS CASS, Secretary of War.