Imatges de pÓgina

land and Virginia at a commanding point, and traversing their divid. ing lines for a distance of one hundred and eighty miles, thus giving control over both in the event of future war-domestic or foreign. For these reasons, and in view of the inducements offered by the company in the reduction of charges for carrying troops and their equipments, the mails, and all government freight, your committee have prepared the accompanying bill to guarantee the bonds of the Pittsburg and Connellsville Railroad Company for two millions of dollars, the proceeds of which, with other means which the company expect to realize if this aid is extended to them, will complete their road.

In the bill we have protected the United States by all proper and practicable guards. The company, in the opinion of the committee, may reasonably expect to pay the interest on the bonds without recourse to the government, and the principal also at maturity, as the bonds run for thirty years. They only desire the indorsement of the government to facilitate the earlier completion of their work, and in the belief that this will be effected by the passage of the bill, the committee submit it for the consideration of the House.



[To accompany bill H. R. No. 169.]

JULY 3, 1862.-Ordered to be printed.

Mr. BABBITT, from the Committee on Commerce, made the following


The Committee on Commerce, to whom were referred House bill, No. 169, making an appropriation for the preservation and improvement of the harbor of Erie, in the State of Pennsylvania; also, sundry petitions praying for such appropriation, and the resolution of the House directing the committee to inquire into the expediency thereof, having had the subject under consideration, and having deemed it expedient to report a bill making such appropriation, based on an estimate by J. D. Graham, colonel of topographical engineers and superintendent of lake harbor works, beg leave to accompany the same with an exibition of some facts showing the necessity of such action, and the national importance of the subject, both in a commercial and military point of view.

The harbor of Erie is situated not far from the centre of the southern shore line of Lake Erie, and is formed by a crescent-shaped peninsula extending easterly from the main shore of the lake, and leaving between it and the main land a bay-formerly called Presque Isle bay-of an average of 1} mile in width and about 41 miles in length, with twenty feet depth of water, so spacious and completely landlocked that a great navy could ride at anchor within it in perfect safety through the heaviest storms.

In relation to the bigh national value of this barbor for commerce and defence, and the importance of its preservation and improvement for these purposes, the committee submit a few extracts from the unanimously favorable reports of government engineers, whose duty it has been to examine and report on the qualities and advantages of this and other lake harbors.

J. J. Abert, colonel of topographical engineers, in his report to the Secretary of War in relation to this harbor, says :

5. This extensively fine harbor, one of the most valuable on the lake in reference to military and naval advantages—the only harbor, in fact, on this lake in which a fleet can be assembled, and where it can be completely protected against weather and an enemy—is also one of the points of connexion between the commerce of the Atlantic and the western States by means of canals and railroads already made and in the course of construction in the State of Pennsylvania. The natural advantages of this harbor are greater than those of Buffalo, and it is undoubtedly destined at some future and not distant day to rival Buffalo in its present character of the great depot of the west."(Ex. Doc., 1841-'42, pages 151-2.)

W. G. Williams, captain topographical engineers, in his report in relation to this harbor in a military point of view, says :

"It seems to fulfil to a greater extent certain requisite conditions than any other upon the lake. Its comparatively central position would enable it with facility to extend succor promptly to any point on the lake. The ease with which it might be entered under any circumstances of wind by the plan projected for its improvement

, its facilities of intercourse with the most densely populated parts of the country, and, above all, its remarkable conformation as a convenient and secure harbor, characterize it as a site for a naval depot of the highest order. Thus, its freedom from ice in the earliest opening of the spring, enabling vessels to enter upon active duties whilst as yet they would be ice-bound at the lower end of the lake, its land-locked area, containing about six square miles of good anchorage, with & depth averaging about twenty feet, the interposition of Presque Isle as a guarantee from hostile surprise, and its comparatively central position, are its peculiar advantages, and indicate it as a point that cannot be too highly appreciated by the general government.” –(Ex. Doc., 1841-'42, pages 171-'2.)

Again he says: "In regard to the position of Erie in a military sense, its relations are simple and its proprieties easily investigated. Firstly. It stands secure from all molestation on the part of the enemy: an island (formerly a Presque Isle) in form of a crescent, with a development of about six miles, cuts off a portion of the lake and forms the natural harbor of Erie. No entrance can be effected, according to the proposed plan, but between the channel piers at either extremity of the bay, and they in a situation to be defended from the shore and from within the harbor. Secondly. There is space and depth enclosed to form an adequate and safe roadstead for vessels of such character as would be adapted to national purposes. It is a secure terminous to various routes of canals and railroads into the interior of a fertile and densely populated territory, and stands in relation by canal to one of the principal iron-working establishments in the country, namely, Pittsburg, and to the United States arsenal established there."-(Ex. Doc. 1841-42, page

J. D. Graham, colonel of topographical engineers and superintendent of lake harbor works, in his report to the Secretary of War, (Ex. Doc. 1858–59, pages 1176– ’7, -'8,) recommends an appropriation of $42,590, for the preservation and improvement of this harbor,

"This is the only harbor on the lakes which belongs to the State of Pennsylvania. It is of great importance to her inland trade, and will be of still great importance when the Sunbury and Erie railroad, now in progress of construction, shall be completed. The general

and says :

commerce of the lakes must often look to this harbor also as a port of refuge from the frequent and sudden gales which prove every year so destructive to shipping and human life. All these considerations, added to the value of this harbor as a naval station and a port in time of war, seem to constitute a strong claim on the government to complete its improvement, and I would respectfully recommend immediate attention to it."

In 1860 the appropriation of the above sum is again recommended by the War Department for the preservation and improvement of this harbor.- (See Èx. Doc., 1860.)

The only present entrance to this harbor is at the eastern end of the bay, and would be completely commanded by a battery on a promontory which is half a mile from the channel, and rises about 100 feet above the water. Several points on the main shore along the bay rise to the height of over 80 feet, and fully command the whole bay and peninsula.

This harbor was, in the war of 1812, selected by Commodore Perry as the best position on the lake for the construction of the fleet with which he captured that of the enemy.

Batteries on the promontory alluded to completely protected his embryo fleet from destruction by the fleet of the enemy, which had, from the beginning to the end of the construction of the fleet under the superintendence of Perry, entire command of the lake, and repeatedly made reconnoissance of the harbor, but being warmly saluted by shots from the promontory, left without being able to do any harm. From this port the brave commodore sailed with his newly-constructed fleet, which, on on the 10th of September, 1813, met and captured that of the enemy; and to it he returned with his own and the conquered fleet, evidently finding no other port so well adapted to the purposes of offence and defence.

The central position of this harbor renders it of great value as a point of refuge from the severe autumnal storms which visit this lake with peculiar destructiveness. It is the lake port of a densely populated and productive portion of the State of Pennsylvania, abounding in timber, iron oar, and coal, with which it has extraordinary facilities of communication by means of several railroads connecting with the harbor; and it is the terminus of the Erie extension canal, uniting it with the Ohio river and Pittsburg; all affording special means for the rapid collection there of men, munitions of war, and all the material for the construction of a navy.

But this barbor, so valuable in a military and commercial point of view, is now in imminent danger of great deterioration if not entire destruction by the washing away of the material (sand) of which the peninsula is composed, from its western end and centre, and the depositing of it in the ship channel at the eastern end of the bay, and by the exposed and dilapidating condition of the pier-work constructed by the government for the protection of the channel, but which was, several years ago, left in an unfinished and unsafe condition in consequence of the exhaustion of the government appropriation.

It is certain, however, that this important barbor can be completely protected and preserved and its condition greatly improved by the judicious expenditure of a sum of money small indeed in comparison to its high national value; and the sooner it is commenced and pushed forward to its consummation the less will be the expense.

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