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REPORT FROM THE NAVY DEPARTMENT.
Navy Department, March 31, 1836. Şır: In answer to so much of the resolutions of the Sevate of the United States, of the 18th ultimo, as required information as to the probable amount of appropriations that may be necessary to supply the United States with ord. nance, arms, and munitions of war, which a proper regard to self-defence would require to be always on hand, and the probable amount that would be necessary to place the naval defences of the United States (including the increase of the navy, navy yards, dock yards, and steam or floating batteries) upon the footing of strength and respectability which is due to the security and welfare of the Union, I have the honor to lay before you a report of the board of navy commissioners, of the 2d instant, which contains the best information upon the subjects referred to in possession of this department, which is respectfully submitted.
MAHLON DICKERSON. The President of the United States.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES.
January 21, 1836. The following resolutions were ordered to be postponed to Monday next:
Resolved, That so much of the revenue of the United States, and the divi. dends of stock receivable from the Bank of the United States, as may be neces. sary for the purpose, ought to be set apart and applied to the general defence and permanent security of the country.
Resolved, That the President be requested to cause the Senate to be informed:
1. The probable amount that would be necessary for fortifying the lake, maritime, and Gulf frontier of the United States, and such points of the land frontier as may require permanent fortifications.
2. The probable amount that would be necessary to construct an adequate number of armories and arsenals in the United States, and to supply the States with field artillery (especially brass field pieces) for their militia, and with sidearms and pistols for their cavalry.
3. The probable amount that would be necessary to supply the United States with the ordnance, arms, and munitions of war, which a proper regard to selfdefence would require to be always on hand.
4. The probable amount that would be necessary to place the naval defences of the United States (including the increase of the navy, navy yards, dock yards, and steam or floating batteries) upon the footing of strength and respectability which is due to the security and to the welfare of the Union.
Passed February 18, 1836.
Navy COMMISSIONER's Office, March 2, 1836. Sir: The board of navy commissioners have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 26th ultimo, requesting a "report on the probable amount that would be necessary to supply the United States with the ordnance, arms, and munitions of war (so far as may be wanted for the purposes of the navy) which a proper regard to self-defence would require to be always on hand; and on the probable amount that would be necessary to place the naval defences
of the United States (including the increase of the navy, navy yards, dock yards, and steam or floating batteries) upon the footing of strength and respectability which is due to the security and welfare of the Union.”
In conformity to these instructions the board respectfully state, with respect to the ordnance for the navy, that after a careful examination of the subject, taking into considertion the ordnance and ordnance stores now on hand, and the extent of force for which it may be expedient to make early provision, they are of opinion that the sum of one million eight hundred thousand two hundred and fifty dollars will be required to supply the ordnance, arms, and munitions of war which may be wanted for the use of the navy, and which a proper regard to self-defence would require to have prepared ready for use.—(See paper A annexed for the detail.)
The board beg leave respectfully to observe, that for the vessels which are now built, or have been specially authorized, armaments may be provided, with some partial exceptions, from the cannon and cannonades already provided, and the deficient ordnance, arms, and other ordnance stores will be principally required for the vessels which are yet to be authorized or built. It is therefore respectfully recommended that any appropriation for this purpose, instead of being special or separate, should be included in an appropriation for “ building and repairing vessels, and for the purchase of materials and stores for the navy."
The second object of inquiry, as to “ the probable amount that would be necessary to place the naval defences of the United States (including the increase of the navy, navy yards, dock yards, and steam or floating batteries) upon the footing of strength and respectability which is due to the security and welfare of the Union,” embraces a wide range, requires an examination of several subjeets of great importance, and the expression of opinions upon which differences of opinion may and probably will exist. Before any estimate can be formed of the probable amount that would be necessary for the purposes proposed an examination must be had, and an opionion formed of the nature and extent of the naval force which is “ necessary to place the naval defences of the United States upon the footing of strength and respectability which is due to the security and welfare of the Union,” and the time within which it ought to be, or might be, advantageously prepared.
Taking into view the geographical position of the United States, with reference to other nations with whom we are most likely to be brought into future collision ; the great extent of our maritime frontier, and the extreme importance of securing the communications of the whole valley of the Mississippi, through the Gulf of Mexico, and the intercourse between all parts of the coast; the efficient protection of our widely extended and extremely valuable commerce, under all circumstances; and the great naval and fiscal resources of the country, the board consider the proper limit for the extent of the naval force to be that which can be properly manned when the country may be involved in a maritime war.
In estimating this extent it is assumed that about ninety thousand seamen are employed in the foreign and coasting trade and fisheries, As the navigation has been generally increasing, there is little reason to apprehend any immediate diminution during peace. In any war which would require the employment of all our naval force, it is believed that such interruptions would occur to our commerce as would enable the navy to obtain without difficulty at least thirty thousand seamen and ordinary seamen; and if it should continue long, it is probable that a larger number might be engaged. The number of thirty thousand, with the landsmen who may be safely combined with them, will therefore be assumed as the number for which vessels ought to be prepared for the commencement of a state of hostilities.
With respect to the nature of the force which it would be most advantageous to prepare, there will undoubtedly be differences of opinion. The materials for the larger vessels, as ships-of-the-line and frigates, would be obtained with great
difficulty, under circumstances which would interfere with our coasting trade, whilst sloop-of-war and smaller vessels could be built with greater comparative facility under such circumstances.
The preparation of a considerable number of steam vessels, ready to defend our great estuaries, to aid in the operations of our other naval force, and in the concentration or movements of the military force, as circumstances might require, is believed to demand serious and early attention.
Having due regard to these and other considerations, the board propose that the force to be prepared, ready for use when circumstances may require it, shall consist of fifteen ships-of-the-line, 25 frigates, 25 sloops-of-war, 25 steamers, and 25 smaller vessels, and that the frames and other timber, the copper, ordnance, tanks, and chain cables shall also be prepared for 10 ships-of-the-line and 10 frigates.
The force proposed to be prepared, ready for use, will employ and can be manned by the 30,000 seamen and others which have been considered available in a state of war. The materials for the ten ships-of-the-line and ten frigates will constitute a necessary reserve for increasing the number of those vessels, should they be required, or for supplying losses from decay or casualties.
To estimate the amount necessary to prepare this force it is proposed to ascertain the whole probable cost, including ordnance, by the average cost of similar vessels already built, (steam vessels excepted,) and of materials already procured, and then to deduct the value of the present force, and all other present available means. Total cost of 15 ships-of-the-line.
$8, 250,000 25 frigates
8,750,000 55 sloops
3, 125, 000 25 steamers.
5, 625, 000 25 smaller vessels ..
27,000,000 3, 315,000
Total for vessels....
able means, as follows:
$4, 440, 000 In vessels building, at actual cost..
2, 455, 000 In materials collected for building do...
2,945, 000 In treasury for these purposes, October 1, 1835... 1, 215, 000 For three years' appropriation, “gradual improvement,” when due...
Total of present value and available means
Leaves still to be provided for vessels....
In presenting any estimate for the amounts which may be necessary to place the different navy yards in a proper situation, the board can do no more than give very general opinions, as the objects of expenditure are foreign to their own professional pursuits, and they have no civil engineer to whom they can refer for the necessary detailed information.
From a knowledge of the cost of works hitherto completed or in progress, and of the wants at the respective yards for the proper peservation of materials, and for extending the means for building, preserving, repairing, and equipping
vessels, they are satisfied, however, that the public interests would be greatly promoted, and, in fact, absolutely require an average annual expenditure of $500,000 for years to come upon the different yards.
In New York the necessity for a dry dock is severely felt already, and its importance will increase with any increase of the navy. This, with its dependencies, will require nearly a million of dollars. At Pensacola, which nature has designated as one of the naval keys of the Gulf of Mexico, and of the immense commerce of the valley of the Mississippi, large expenditures will be necessary to secure adequate means for repairing and subsisting a naval force upon that station, and thus prevent the many evils which would be severely felt in a state of war, if the vessels were obliged to resort to the Atlantic ports for ordinary repairs or supplies of any kind. In other yards there are objects of great and urgent importance.
Generally the proposed arrangements for the preservation of all materials and vessels should precede their collection or construction. Whilst, therefore, the board propose $500,000 as the average annual appropriation, until the yards should be placed in proper order, they would also state that appropriations of $700,000, annually, for the next four or five years, and a less sum than $500,000 afterwards, would, in their opinion, be most judicious.
The next subject for consideration is the nature and extent of force proper to be kept employed in a time of peace for the protection of our commercial interests, and to prepare the officers and others for the efficient management of the force proposed for a state of war.
Our commerce is spread over every ocean; our tonnage is second only to that of Great Britain, and the value of articles embarked is believed by many to be fully equal to those transported by the ships of that nation. In the safety and prosperity of this commerce all the other interests of the United States are deeply interested. It is liable to be disturbed and injured in various modes, unless the power of the country, exerted through its naval force, is ready to protect it. It is therefore proposed that small squadrons should be employed upon different stations, subject at all times, however, to such modifications as circumstances may require.
Of these squadrons, one might be employed in the Mediterranean, and attend to our interests on the west coasts of Spain and Portugal, and southward to the western coast of Morocco and Madeira.
One in the Indian ocean to visit, successively, the most important commercial points east of the Cape of Good Hope, to China, then to cross the Pacific, visit the northern whaling stations and islands, cruise some time upon the west coast of America, and return by way of Cape Horn, the coast of Brazil, and the Windward West India islands.
One in the Pacific ocean to attend to our interests upon the west coast of America ; keeping one or more vessels at or near the Sandwich and other islands which are frequented by our whale ships and other vessels, and, in succession, cross the Pacific, visiting the islands and southern whaling stations, China, and other commercial places, and return, by the way of the Cape of Good Hope, to the United States.
A squadron upon the coast of Brazil, or east coast of South America, might be charged with attention to our interests on the whole of that coast, and upon the north coast so far as to include the Orinoco. If a ship-of-the-line should be employed on this station, it might be occasionally sent round to the Pacific.
A squadron in the West Indies and Gulf of Mexico will be necessary for, and may be charged with, attention to the protection of our commerce amongst the West India islands and along the coast of South America, from the Orinoco round to the Gulf of Mexico.
A small coast squadron upon our Atlantic coast might be very advantageously employed in making our officers familiarly and thoroughly acquainted with all our ports and harbors, which would be very useful in a state of war. The ressels would also be ready for any unexpected service, either to transmit information or orders ; to reinforce other squadrons, or to visit our eastern fisheries. Besides this cruising force, it is recommended that a ship-of-the-line be kept in a state of readiness for service, men excepted, at Boston, New York, and Norfolk, and used as receiving ships for the recruits as they are collected ; this would give the means of furnishing a considerable increase of force with a very small addition to the current expense.
For the nature and distribution of this force, the following is proposed :
Considering this force with reference to its power of giving experience to the officers, and qualifying them for the management of the force proposed for war, it appears that for the force proposed to be actually employed at sea, in peace and in war, the peace force will require and employ about two-thirds the number of commanders of squadrons; about one-third of the captains and forty one-hundredths of the commanders and lieutenants and masters, which the proposed war force would demand, and midshipmen sufficient to supply the additional number of these last classes which a change to a state of war would require.
Supposing the foregoing force to be that which is to be kept in commission, the next question is, what force will be necessary to keep afloat, to provide the necessary reliefs? The board believe that this force should be the least which will answer the object proposed, as every vessel when launched is exposed to a decay which is much more rapid than when left under the cover of a tight shiphouse.
We have already six ships-of-the-line afloat, which will be fully equal to our present wants, when they are repaired. A reserve of three frigates may be required, but only to be launched when the necessity for it shall arise ; for the sloops-of-war and smaller vessels, it will probably be sufficient to merely keep up the cruising force as proposed, except some extraordinary demand 'should arise. The force of steam vessels proposed, when distributed at Boston, New York, Norfolk, and Pensacola, would probably meet all the demands of a state of peace, and furnish useful schools for officers, to prepare them for the proper management of others, when they are required. The force to be kept afloat
. then, will be assumed at six ships-of-the-line, eleven frigates, fifteen sloops-ofwar, four steamers, and ten smaller vessels. The annual amount necessary to keep this force in a state of repair, and to supply the wear and tear of stores of cruising vessels, is estimated at $950,000.
The estimated expense of the force which is proposed to be kept in commis. sion, exclusive of the repairs as above stated, and for the pay of officers at nary yards, rendezvous, receiving vessels, of superintendents, and civil officers at all the shore establishments, and at the present cost of those establishments, is :