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Besides the works of a permanent character, it will be necessary in the beginning of a war to erect several temporary works on certain positions in the harbor and on the lateral approaches to the navy yard.—(Classes A, B, E, and F.)
Plymouth and Provincetown harbors.—These harbors have a commerce of some consequence of their own, but they are particularly interesting in reference to the port of Boston. While these are undefended, an enemy's squadron blockading Massachusetts bay will have ports of refuge under his lee, which would enable him to maintain his blockade even throughout the most stormy seasons, knowing that the winds which would force him to seek shelter would be adverse to outward bound and fatal to such inward-bound vessels as should venture near the cape. Were the enemy deprived of these harbors he would be unable to enforce a vigorous investment, as he must be constrained to take an offing on every approach of foul weather. Our own vessels coming in from sea, and finding an enemy interposed between them and Boston, or being turned from their course by adverse winds, would, in case of the defence of these ports, find to the south of Boston shelter equivalent to those provided in the east at Marblehead, Salem, Gloucester, and Portsmouth. Plymouth harbor has not been fully surveyed. Provincetown harbor has been surveyed, but the projects of defence have not been formed. The former, it is thought, may be suitably covered by a work of no great cost on Gurnett Point, while to fortify Provincetown harbor in such a way as to cover vessels taking shelter therein, and at the same time to deprive an enemy of safe anchorages, will involve considerable expense. Probably no nearer estimate can be formed at present than that offered by the engineer department some years ago, which gave one hundred thousand dollars to Plymouth and six hundred thousand dollars for Provincetown.(Classes D and E.)
The coast between Cape Cod and Cape Hatteras differs from the northeastern section in possessing fewer harbors, in having but little rocky and a great portion of sandy shore, in its milder climate and clearer atmosphere; and it differs from all the other portions, in the depth and magnitude of its interior seas and sounds, and in the distance to which deep tide navigation extends up its numerous large rivers. The circuit of the coast, not including the shores of the great bays, measures about six hundred and fifty miles.
Martha's Vineyard sound.—To the south of Cape Cod lie the islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, which, with several smaller islands on the south, and the projection of Cape Malabar on the east, enclose the above-named sound. The channels through this sound being sufficient for merchant vessels, and one of the channels permitting the passage even of small frigates, are not only the constant track of coasting vessels, but also of large number of vessels arriving in the tempestuous months from foreign voyages. There are within the sound the harbors of Tarpaulin Cove, Holmes's Hole, Edgartown, Falmouth, Hyannis, and Nantucket, besides small anchorages.
In addition to the many thousand vessels passing this water annually, of which there are sometimes forty or fifty (a portion containing very valuable cargoes) to be seen in the harbors awaiting a change of wind, there is supposed to be at least forty thousand tons of whaling vessels owned in the towns of this sound.
If the harbors just named are to be defended at all it must be by fortifications. There is little or no population except in the towns, and even this is believed to be entirely without military organization. A privateer might run into either of these harbors and capture, destroy, or levy contributions at pleasure. The use of the sound itself as an anchorage for vessels-of-war cannot be prevented by fortifications alone. Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars may perhaps suffice for the defence of all the harbors against the kind of enterprise to which they are exposed.-(Class F.)
Nero Bedford and Fairhaven harbor.–Projects and estimates have been made for the defence of this harbor, on which lie two of the most flourishing towns in the eastern States, New Bedford being, as regards registered tonnage, the third harbor in the United States. Estimate $208,000.-(Class D.)
Buzzard's bay.-Interposed between the main and the island of Martha's Vineyard or the Elizabeth islands, which bound Buzzard's bay on the south. This bay covers the harbor of New Bedford, and might be used as an anchorage by an enemy's fleet, but it is too wide to be defended by fortifications.
Tarraganset bay.—Some of the properties of this great roadstead have been stated in the preceding remarks.
The defence adopted for Narraganset roads must be formidable on the important points, because they will be exposed to powerful expeditions. Although the possession of this harbor, the destruction of the naval establishment, the capture of the floating defences, and the possession of the island as a place of debarkation and refreshment, should not be considered as constituting of themselves objects worthy a great expedition, they might very well be the preliminary steps of such expedition; and defences, weak in their character, might tempt rather than deter it; for although unable to resist his enterprise, they might be fully competent, after being captured and strengthened by such means as he would have at hand, to protect him from offensive demonstrations on our part.
There are besides, in the local circumstances, some reasons why the works should be strong. The channel on the eastern side of the island being permanently closed by a solid bridge, requires no' defensive works; but this bridge being the upper end of the island, the channel is open to an enemy all along the eastern shore of the island. Works erected for the defence of the channel of the west side of the island cannot, therefore, prevent nor even oppose a landing on the eastern side. The enemy may, consequently, take possession, and bend his whole force to the reduction of the forts on the island, which cannot be relieved until a force has been organized, brought from a distance, conveyed by water to the points attacked, and landed in the face of his batteries; all this obviously requiring several days, during which the forts should be capable of holding out. To do this against an expedition of ten thousand or twenty thousand men demands something more than strength to resist a single assault
. Unless the main works be competent to withstand a siege of a few days, they will not, therefore, fulfil their trust, and will be worse than useless.
It must here be noticed that, although the works do not prevent the landing of an enemy on Rhode Island, they will
, if capable of resisting his efforts for a few days, make his residence on the island for any length of time impossible, since forces in any number may be brought from the main, and landed under cover of the fire of the works.
To come now to the particular defences proposed for this roadstead. It inust be stated that there are three entrances into Narraganset roads :
1st. The eastern channel, which passes upon the east side of the island of Rhode Island. This, as before stated, being shut by a solid bridge, needs no defence by fortificotions, other than a field-work or two, which may be thrown up at the opening of a war.
2d. The central channel, which enters from sea by passing between Rhode Island and Conanicut island. This is by far the best entrance, and leads to the best anchorage; and this it is proposed to defend by a fort on the east side of the entrance, designed to be the principal work in the system. This work, called Fort Adams, is nearly completed. On the west side of the entrance it is proposed to place another work, and on an island, called Rose island, facing the entrance, a third work. It is also proposed to repair the old fort on Goat island, just within the mouth; and also old Fort Green, which is a little higher up on the island of Rhode Island.
3d. As to the western passage, three modes present themselves: first, by reducing the depth of water by an artificial ledge, so as, while the passage shall be as free as it is now for the coasting trade, it shall be shut as to the vesselsof-war, including steam vessels ; second, by relying on fortifications alone to close the channel ; or, third, by resorting in part to one, and in part to the other mode just mentioned. Either is practicable; but, being the least expensive and most certain, the estimates are founded on the first. The total cost of the Narraganset defences is estimated at $1,699,000.—(Classes A, B, D, F.)
Gardiner's bay. It is uncertain whether this harbor, which would be a very valuable one to an enemy investing this part of the coast, is defensible by fortifications alone. After it shall have been surveyed, it may appear that, from one or more positions, the whole anchorage may be controlled by heavy sea-mortars. In such a case, the defensive works would not be costly. If it be found expedient to fortify some particular portion of the bay as an anchorage for steam batteries, (which, however, is not anticipated,) the expense would probably be as great as was anticipated some years since by the engineer department, viz: 8400,000.-(Class F.)
Sag Harbor, New York, and Stonington, Connecticut.-Neither of these harbors has been surveyed with reference to defence. The first is possessed of considerable tonnage; and the second, beside being engaged in commerce, is the terminus of a railroad from Boston. $100,000 may be assigned to the first, and $200,000 to the other.—(Classes E and F.)
New London harbor is very important to the commerce of Long Island sound; and, as a port of easy access, having a great depth of water, rarely freezing, and being easily defended, it is an excellent station for the navy. It is also valuable as a shelter for vessels bound out or home, and desirous of avoiding a blockading squadron off Sandy Hook. The plan of defence includes the rebuilding of Forts Trumbull and Griswold—the former having been already done, very nearly-remaining expense estimated at $198,000.-(Classes A and F.)
Mouth of Connecticut river.—This river has been shown to be subject to the expeditions of an enemy. No survey has been made with a view to its defences. $100,000 is introduced here as the conjectural cost.—(Class F.)
New Haven harbor.-It is proposed to defend this harbor by improving and enlarging Fort Hale, and substituting a new work for the slight redoubt erected during the last war, called Fort Wooster. The expense of both may be set down at $90,000, exclusive of $5,000 for immediate repairs of old Fort Hale.(Classes A and F.)
There are several towns between New Haven and New York on both sides of the sound; none of them are very large as yet; still most, if not all, are prosperous and increasing. Although in their present condition it might not be deemed necessary to apply any money to permanent defences, yet, as part of the present object is to ascertain, as near as may be, the ultimate cost of completely fortifying the coast, it seems proper to look forward to the time when some of these towns may become objects of predatory enterprises of some magnitude. Bearing in mind the probable increase of population in the meantime, and the situation of the places generally, it is thought that $200,000 will be enough to provide defences for all.—(Class F.)
New York harbor.–The objects of the projected works for the security of New York are to cover the city from an attack by land or sea; to protect its numerous shipping; to prevent, as far as possible, the blockade of this great port, and to cover the interior communication uniting this harbor with the Delaware.
There are two avenues to the city, namely, one by the main channel, direct from sea, and one by the sound.
The projected system of defence closes this last avenue at the greatest distance possible from the city, namely, at Throg's Point. The occupation of this point
will force the enemy to land more than twenty miles from the city on one side, and still further from the navy yard on the other.
A work now in progress and nearly finished at Throg's Point will prevent any attempt to force this passage. It will, as we have seen, oblige an enemy to land at a considerable distance from the object; and, as he will then be unable to turn the strong position afforded by Harlem river, the cover on the New York side will be sufficient.
But should he land on the Long Island side, he might, by leaving parties on suitable positions, with a view to prevent our crossing the river and falling on his rear, make a dash at the navy yard, having no obstacle in his front. To prevent this effectually, and also to accomplish other objects, a work should be erected on Wilkins's Point, opposite Throg's Point. This work, besides completing the defence of that channel, would involve a march against the navy yard from this quarter in great danger, since all the forces that could be col. lected on the New York shore might, under cover of this work, be crossed over to Long Island, and fall on the rear of the enemy, cutting off his communication with the fleet. The two works on Throg's and Wilkins's Points may therefore be regarded as perfectly protecting on that side the city and navy yard.
Against an attack by the main channel there are :
1st. The works in the vicinity of the city, which would act upon an enemy's squadron only after its arrival before the place. They consist of Fort Columbus, Castle Williams, and South Battery, on Governor's island, Fort Wood, on Bedlow's island, and Fort Gibson, on Ellis's island.
It is necessary that these works be maintained, because, in the event of the lower barriers being forced, these would still afford a resource. It is a disadvantage of their positions, however, that the destruction of the city might be going on simultaneously with the contest between the forts and the fleets. They cannot, however, be dispensed with until the outer barriers are entirely completed, if even then.
2d. At the Narrows, about seven miles below the city, the passage becomes so contracted as to permit good disposition to be made for defence. On the Long Island side of the Narrows is Fort Lafayette, which is a strong water battery, standing on a reef at some distance from the shore, and immediately behind it, on the top of the bank, is a small but strong work, called Fort Hamilton. Some repairs being applied to these works, this position may be regarded as well occupied.
On the west or Staten Island side of the Narrows are the following works, all of which were erected by the State of New York, viz: Fort Richmond, which is a water battery; Battery Hudson, which is at some height above the water; Battery Morton, which is a small battery on the top of the hill, and Fort Tompkins, which is also on the hill, and is the principal work. All these works, as well as the site common to them all, are now the property of the United States by purchase from the State of New York.
Batteries Hudson and Morton have been put in perfect order, and afford a formidable
guns. Fort Richmond, which occupied the best position within the whole harbor for channel defence, had fallen entirely to ruin ; it is now being reconstructed, and with the appropriation asked for in the estimates of last year might have been now ready for one tier of guns.
The nature and extent of repairs required by Fort Tompkins have not yet been settled, this not being deemed so pressing as a state of readiness in the batteries just mentioned. Besides these works, there has been projected for Staten Island an advanced redoubt, which, however, falls within the class of works (F) last to be erected.
With the Narrows thus defended, and the works near the city in perfect order, New York might be regarded as pretty well protected against an attack by water through this passage.
But there lies below the Narrows a capacious bay, affording good anchorage for any number of vessels-of-war and transports. An enemy's squadron being in that bay, into which entrance is very easy, would set a seal upon this outlet of the harbor. Not a vessel could enter or depart at any season of the year. And it would also intercept the water communication, by way of the Raritan, between New York and Philadelphia.
The same squadron could land a force on the beach of Gravesend bay, (the place of the landing of the British, which brought on the battle of Long Island in the revolutionary war,) within seven miles of the city of Brooklyn, of its commanding height, and of the navy yard, with no intervening obstacle of any
This danger is imminent, and it would not fail, in the event of war, to be as fully realized as it was during the last war, when, on the rumor of an expedition being in preparation in England, twenty-seven thousand militia were assembled to cover the city from an attack of this sort. It is apparent that the defences near the city and those at the Narrows, indispensable as they are for other purposes, cannot be made to prevent this enterprise, which can be thoroughly guarded against only by
3d. An outer barrier at the very mouth of the harbor. This would accomplish two objects of great consequence, namely, rendering a close blockade of the harbor impossible, and obliging an enemy who should design to move troops against the navy yard to land at a distance of more than twenty miles from his object, upon a dangerous beach, leaving, during the absence of the troops, the transports at anchor in the ocean, and entirely without shelter.
The hazard of such a land expedition would moreover be greatly enhanced by the fact that our own troops, by passing over Long Island under cover of the fort at Wilkins's Point, could cut off the return of the enemy to his fleet, which must lie at or somewhere near Rockaway. Time, distance, and the direction of the respective marches would make, very naturally, such a manæuvre a part of the plan of defence. Against an enemy landing in Gravesend bay no such mancuvre could be effectual, on account of the shortness of his line of march, as well as of its direction.
In view of these considerations, the board of engineers projected additional works, one for the east bank, and another for the middle ground, these positions being on shoals on either hand of the bar outside of Sandy Hook. Before determining on the works last mentioned the board went into much research, in order to ascertain whether these shoals were unchangeable, and it was thought to have been fully proved that there had been no material alteration in more than sixty
apparent stability of the shoals encourage the board to devise the project referred to.
More recent surveys have, however, discovered new, or rather other channels. If they, indeed, be new channels, they show a want of stability in the shoals that forbids any such structures as the batteries formerly contemplated. And whether new or not they would deprive these batteries of a material portion of their efficacy. Removing, then, these defences from this outer bar, they must occupy the position of Sandy Hook; at which they will afford a very good defence of the main channel, and prevent the entrance to or occupation of the lower bay for any hostile purpose whatsoever, and cover a secure anchorage there for our own merchantmen and privateers, and for our steam and sailing cruisers.
To recapitulate as to New York harbor. The security of the city of New York, Brooklyn, &c., and the navy yard requires, first, defences on the passage from the sound; namely, the completion of Fort Schuyler on Throg's Point, (Class B,) and the erection of a fort on Wilkins's Point (Class F)-cost of both 8711,000; second, completion of repairs on works of Governor's island, Bedlow's island, and Ellis's island—astimated cost $42,689, (Class A;) third, repairs