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Estimated cost of ordnance of all kinds, 4.-Continued.
10,800 5,700 17,200 5,400 1,600 8,000 3,600 197,600 106,400 145,030 | 51, 372 39,520 342, 322
JOSEPH G. TOTTEN, Culonel of Engineers.
For the board,
REPORT ON THE WESTERN FRONTIER, FROM THE SABINE BAY TO LAKE
The principles which should govern in fortifying the seaboard are not considered applicable to our inland frontier, which will very rarely be found to call for regular fortifications. Hence, in relation to that portion of the frontier now under consideration, the duty of the board will be performed by indicating the military positions or stations which should, in their opinion, be occupied by troops, in order to accomplish the objects in view, and in presenting estimates of the probable cost of constructing the necessary barracks, quarters, and storehouses, combined with such works of defence as circumstances may appear to require, to insure their protection against the attacks to which they may be exposed.
The want of personal knowledge, on the part of the board, of our extensive western frontier, and the very limited surveys which have been made in that quarter, have somewhat embarrassed them in the selection of positions; but they desire to be understood as merely designating places in a geographical sense, leaving the particular sites on which the works should be erected to be determined hereafter, by minute examinations of the country at and around those positions; which become the more important, inasmuch as the original locations of some of the places that will be recommended to be retained have been considered faulty.
The southern section of this frontier, extending from the Sabine bay to the Red river, borders all the way on Texas, and has, it is believed, little or nothing to apprehend from Indian aggressions. The Comanches, the only tribe of any power in that quarter, are represented as gradually receding to the westward, and the progress of the Texan settlements will tend to push them further from our border. But our relations with the Texan republic, however amicable they may be at present, would seem to require that some military force should be stationed on or near the boundary line; and the board therefore recommend the establishment of two small posts on the Sabine river, suppressing Fort Jesup, which is considered too far within the frontier, or retaining it merely as a healthy cantonment.
As these wonld be posts of observation, having reference to national police more than to military defence, they ought to be established on the river where the principal roads cross it, by which we should be enabled to supervise the chief intercourse with our neighbors by land, and, at the same time, control the navigation of the Sabine. The points where the Opelousas and Natchitoches roads, leading to Texas, strike the river, are therefore recommended as the positions which should be occupied, and at which barracks for two or three companies, defended by light works, should be constructed.
The middle section, which extends from the Red river to the Missouri, is by far the most important portion of the whole of our western frontier. It is along this line that the numerous tribes of Indians who have emigrated from the cast have been located; thus adding to the indigenous force already in that region an immense mass of emigrants, some of whom have been sent thither by coercion, with smothered feelings of hostility rankling in their bosom, which, probably, waits but for an occasion to burst forth in all its savage fury. These considerations alone would seem to call for strong precautionary measures; but an additional motive will be found in our peculiar relations with those Indians.
We are bound, by solemn treaty stipulations, to interpose force, if necessary, to prevent domestic strife among them, preserve peace between the several tribes, and to protect them against any disturbances at their new homes by the wild Indians who inhabit the country beyond. The government has thus contracted the two-fold obligation of intervention among, and protection of, the emigrant tribes, in addition to the duty which it owes to its own citizens of providing for their safety.
It appears to the board that this obligation can only be properly fulfilled by maintaining advanced positions in the Indian country with an adequate restraining military force, and that the duty of protecting our own citizens will be best discharged by establishing an interior line of posts along the western border of the States of Arkansas and Missouri as auxiliaries to the advanced positions, and to restrain the intercourse between the whites and the Indians, and serve as rallying points for the neighboring militia in times of alarm.
With these views, they would recommend the maintenance of Fort Towson, on Red river, and Fort Gibson, on the Arkansas, and the establishment of a post at the head of navigation on the Kansas, and one at Table creek, on the Missouri, below the mouth of the Big Platte, as constituting the advanced positions on this portion of the frontier.
For the secondary line intended for the protection of the border settlements the board would adopt the positions which have been selected by a commission of experienced officers along the western boundary of Arkansas and Missouri, at some of which, it is understood, works are already in progress, namely: Fort Smith, on the Arkansas river; Fort Wayne, on the Illinois ; Spring river and Marais de Cygne; terminating to the north at Fort Leavenworth, on the Missouri. They would also recommend the establishment of one or two intermediate posts between the Arkansas and Red rivers, if, on further examination of the country, suitable positions can be selected near the State line. It is not deemed advisable to establish those posts on the route of the road lately surveyed, which (especially the southern portion) is considered too far in advance of the border settlements to accomplish the object in view ; but if eligible positions cannot be found along the line, then a post on the road where it crosses the Poteau river, which is not very remote from the settlements, might have a salutary influence.
On the northern portion of this frontier, extending from the Missouri river to Lake Superior, the board would recommend the establishment of a post near the upper forks of the Des Moines river, the maintenance of Fort Snelling, on the Mississippi
, and the ultimate establishment of a post at the western extremity of Lake Superior. The last is suggested with some qualification for want of the necessary information by which to determine the channel of communication to that remote position. Whether it shall be through Lake Superior or by the Mississippi and its tributaries, it would in either case be difficult in peace and next to impracticable in time of war. As the position has, however, important geographical relations, and would enable us to extend our influence and control over the Indians in our territory, and afford protection to our traders in that remote region, it would seem to be worthy of early occupation if its maintenance can be rendered secure—a point which can only be determined by a careful examination of the country.
It is, nevertheless, recommended to retain Fort Crawford, at Prairie du Chien, Fort Winnebago, at the portage of the Fox and Wisconsin rivers, and Fort Howard, at Green bay. I'hese posts are deemed necessary to protect that portion of our frontier, while at the same time they serve to cover an important line of intercommunication between the northern lakes and the western waters.
It has not been thought expedient to continue the interior line of defence suggested for the middle section of this frontier across from the Missouri to the Mississippi river. Our Indian relations in that quarter assume a different aspect. There is no special guarantee of perpetual occupation of that country by the tribes who now inhabit it, nor can it be doubted that they will ultimately be pushed by the advance of our population to the west of the Missouri river. Under those circumstances, it is believed that the intermediate post recommended to be established on the Des Moines river, co-operating with the posts on the Missouri and those on the Upper Mississippi, will afford adequa'c protection to
the border settlements against any attacks to which they are likely to be exposed.
The board have not felt called upon by the terms of the resolution under which they act to project a plan of operations for the western frontier, nor to go into an estimate of the military force that will be required there, further than was necessary to determine the extent of accommodations to be erected and the expense which these will involve. They would, however, observe that the positions which have been designated will not of themselves have the desired influence in restraining the Indian tribes and protecting our border settlemente without the aid of a respectable force, of which a full proportion should be mounted and held disposable at all times for active service in the field. To effect this the works should be so constructed that, while they will afford adequate accommodations for all the troops when they are not actively employed, their defence may be safely intrusted to a small force. With these precautionary measures, and the co-operation of small but effective reserves posted within sustaining distances of the several sections of the frontier, it is believed that peace may be preserved and the first onset of war met until the militia of the neighboring country could be embodied and brought into the field.
It only remains to recapitulate the positions which have been recommended to be occupied, apportion the requisite force, and present a conjectural estimate of the cost of erecting the accommodations and defences deemed necessary at each.
1. For quarters for 100 men at the post on the Sabine where the
Opelousas road crosses that river, including defences.. 2. For quarters for 100 men at the post on the Sabine where the
Natchitoches road crosses, including defences... 3. For permanent quarters and other accommodations for 500 men
at Fort Towson, including defences.. 4. For permanent quarters and other accommodations for 1,000 men
at Fort Gibson, including defences... 5. For quarters for 300 men at the post on the Kansas river, in
cluding defences... 6. For quarters and other accommodations for 500 men at the post
at Table creek, near the mouth of the Platte, on the Missouri,
including defences.. 7. For quarters and other accommodations for 400 men at the post
on the Des Moines river, including defences.. 8. For the enlargement and repair of Fort Snelling, to fit it for the
accommodation of 300 men, including defences.. 9. For quarters for 400 men at the post at the western extremity of
Lake Superior, including defences ...
10. For quarters for 200 men at the post between the Red and
Arkansas rivers, including defences... 11. For completing quarters and other accommodations for 200 men
at Fort Smith, including defences.. 12. For completing quarters and other accommodations for 200 men
at Fort Wayne, including defences... 13. For quarters and other accommodations for 200 men at the post
at Spring river, including defences....
14. For quarters and other accommodations for 200 men at the post
at Marais de Cygne, including defences... 15. For completing quarters and other accommodations in progress
for 400 men at Fort Leavenworth, inciuding defences...
Total for western frontier....
All which is respectfully submitted.
For the board,
JOS, G. TOTTEN,
Colonel of Engineers,