« AnteriorContinuar »
miles of cutting to complete a navigable channel from the first to the last named bay, and thence, through an existing interior water communication, to the city of New Orleans.
Pensacola bay has rare properties as a harbor. It is now accessible to frigates, and there is reason to hope that the bar may be permanently deepened,
The bar is near the coast, and the channel across it straight and easily hit. The harbor is perfectly land-locked, and the roadstead very capacious. There are excellent positions within, for repairing, building, and launching Vessels, and for docks and dock-yards, in healthy situations. The supply of good water is abundant. The harbor is perfectly defensible. These properties, in connexion with the position of the harbor, as regards the coast, have induced the Government to select it as a Naval station and place of rendezvous and repair.
An excellent survey has been made of the bay of Pensacola, sufficing to form the scheme of defence for the town and harbor. Regarded, however, as an important naval station, and place of rendezvous and repair, which it now is, further surveys, extending a greater distance back from the shores, delineating accurately the face of the country, and showing the several av. enues by land and water, are found to be necessary.
The defences of the water passage, as projected, are nearly complete, $22.000 being asked to finish them. A work is just begun at the position of the Barrancas. It is indispensable, in connexion with one or two other smail works designed to cover the navy yard from a lateral attack through the western bays. The Barrancas work may require $100,000, and the others $200,000; making a total for Pensacola of $322,000, (Statement 2, tables A, C, and F.)
Perdido bay.-This bay is intimately related to Pensacola and Mobile bays, both as regards security and intercommunication, and should be carefully surveyed with a view to these objects. It must be fortified, and the cost may be $200,000. (Statement 2, table F.)
Mobile bay.- The plan of defence for this bay comprises a fort, now needing some repairs, for Mobile point. Another fort is projected for Dan.' phin Island, and a tower for the defence of Pass-au-Heron. The estimates for all require $915,0110. (Statement 2, tables A, E, and F.)
New Orleans and the delta of the Mississippi.-The most northern valer communication between the Mississippi and the Gulf is by the passage called the Rigolets, connecting Lake Borgne and Lake Pontchartrain. The dext is the pass of Chef Menteur, also connecting these lakes. Through these passages, an enemy, entering Lake Pon(chartrain, would, at the same tine that he intercepted all water communication with Mobile and Pensacola. be able to reach New Orleans from the southern shore of the lake ; or he might continue onward, through Lake Maurepas, Amité river, and Iber. ville nrer, thereby reaching the Mississippi at the very head of the delta: or, larding within the mouths of the Chef Menteur, he might move against the city along the ridge of the Gentilly road.
To the southwest of Chef Menteur, and at the head of Lake Borgne, is Bayou Bienvenue, a navigable channel, (the one followed by the English army in the last war,) not running quite to the Mississippi, but bounded by stores of such a nature as to enable troops to march from the point of debarcation to the city.
These avenues are defended by Fort Pike, at the Rigolets; by Fort Wood, at Chef Menteur; by a small fort at Bayou Bienvenue; and by a tower at Bayou Dupré.
The defences of the Mississippi are placed at the Plaquemine turn, about seventy miles below New Orleans—the lowest position that can be occupied. Fort Jackson is on the right bank, and Fort St. Philip, a little lower down, on the left.
All these forts have been abandoned for several years; and, having received no attention in the way of timely repairs, now require repairs somewhat extensive—especially Forts Jackson and St. Philip, on the Mississippi. The following sums, it is believed, will be required to place all these works in perfect order, viz: Fort Pike, $5,000; Fort Wood, $3,580; fort on Bayou Bienvenue, $2,500"; Tower Dupré, $400; Fort Jackson, $20,000; and Fort St. Philip, $3,300. (Statement 2, table A.)
The most western avenue by which New Orleans is approachable from the sea, passes on the west side of the island of Grande Terre into Barrataria bay, which is an excellent harbor for a floating force, guarding the coasting trade on that side of the Mississippi. From this bay there are several passages leading to New Orleans. The estimate for a work which is now about to be begun on Grande Terre island is $325,000. (Statement 2, table C.)
Several times in this report we have alluded to circumstances which would demand the employment of floating defences, in addition to fixed defences upon the shore. We have here an instance in which that kind of defence would be very useful. Fortifications will enable us to protect New Orleans even from the most serious and determined efforts of an enemy; but, owing to the great width of some of the exterior passages, we cannot, by fortification alone, deprive an enemy of anchorages, (especially that of Chandeleur island,) nor cover entirely the exterior water communication between the Rigolets and Mobile. We must, therefore, either quietly submit to the annoyance and injury that an enemy in possession of these passages may inflict, or avert them by a timely preparation of a floating force adapted to their peculiar navigation, and capable, under the shelter of the forts, of being always on the alert, and of assuming an offensive or defensive attitude, according to the designs, conduct, or situation of the enemy.
Our examination of the coast, from Cape Florida to the Sabine, having now been completed, we will, as in the case of the Atlantic coast, refer, for a comprehensive view of the nurnber, cost, armament, and garrison of the works, to statement 2, wherein the works are divided into tables similar to those of statement 1.
The more essential works on the Gulf coast, included in the first five tables, will require for garrison, in time of war, 4,420 men ; for the armament, 794 pieces of ordnance of every kind; and for the expense yet to be incurred, $516,780.
The works comprised in the last table (F) are generally such as may be postponed to a late day. But among them have been placed some (as, for example, those for Tortugas and Key West) as to which the examination has not been sufficiently minute to decide to what class they really appertain.
In this age of great improvements in the means of locomotion, it would be unwise to decide, without pressing need, on the details of the floating force required at certain points on the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts
perhaps even on the nature of the moving power. Although the probability undoubtedly is, that the power will be steam, genius may, in the interim, devise something still better than steam.
And we may here remark, in relation to the preparation of steam-vessels for warlike purposes generally, that wisdom would seem to direct a very cautious and deliberate progress. Every new vessel may be expected to surpass, in important particulars, all that had preceded; and, to surpass the more. as each succeeding vessel should be the result of careful study and trial of the preceding.
It may be considered unreasonable to expect that steam itself will give par to some agent still more potent, and at the same time not less safe and manageable. But it certainly is no more than probable that steam-vessels now under construction may be regarded almost as incumbrances within ten years.
A deliberate advance in this branch of naval construction is recommend. ed the more, by our ability to construct these vessels in large numbers when needed, the timber being collected in the mean time.
Referring now to the tables which accompany this report:
Statement 1 includes all works from Passamaquoddy to Cape Florida; statement 2, all works from Cape Florida to the mouth of the Sabine; each statement comprising six tables, as before mentioned.
In relation to every work executed, in progress, or merely projected, the tables show the garrison, the ordnance of every description, the sums already expended, and the final cost.
As to works not yet planned, a portion of the same particulars are exhibited, founded on conjecture merely; of course, without laying claim to accuracy, but still as approximations, affording some indication of the fmal result.
It may be well to give here a summary of all these tables.
The works which are likely to be erected on the Atlantic, within a reasonable time, and which are regarded as necessary to a good system of defence, will require war garrisons, amounting to 28,720 men ; and they will require a further expenditure of $9,176,767. Works called for in like manner upon the Gulf of Mexico coast, will need 4,420 men to garrison them, and a further expenditure of $516,780. Of the whole coast, therefore, the garrisons will amount to 33,140 men, and the expenditures to $ 9,993,547.
The remaining works comprised in table F, of both statements, will require 30,695 men, and cost $19,521,824.
Making the grand total for the whole seacoast of the United States, in garrisons for the works 63,835 men, and in cost $29,515,371.
In addition to these statements as to the fortifications, there are two corresponding statements of the cost of the ordnance, of the carriages, and of a certain supply of powder and shot, or shells, for each piece—one statement relating to the Atlantic coast, and the other to the Gulf of Mexico coast. From these it appears, that for the works likely to be erected on the Atlantic coast, within a reasonable time, that is to say, for the works comprised in the first five tables, A, B, C, D, and E,) there will be needed 2,483 pieces of ordnance, and 4,511 carriages, which will cost $2,252,290.
For similar works on the Gulf of Mexico coast, there will be needed 296 pieces of ordnance, and 495 carriages, at a cost of $240,720.
The remaining works named in tables F, of both statements, will require, in addition, 5,447 guns and 5,554 carriages, which will cost $3,735,330.
Making the grand total required for the whole seacoast 8,226 guns and 10,560 carriages, at a cost of $6,228,340.
The time required to construct and put in order the whole system must depend on the amount of the annual appropriation. All that need now be said on the subject is, that in an undertaking necessarily involving so much time, and of such vital importance, there should be no relaxation of diligence. With all diligence, many years must necessarily be consumed. But the work may be too much hurried, as well as too much delayed. There is a rate of progress at which it will be executed in the best inanner, and at the minimum cost. If more hurried, it will be defective in quality, and more costly if delayed.
France was at least fifty years completing her maritime and interior defences.
In the report presented by the Engineer Department, in March, 1836, (Senate document, Ist session 24th Congress, vol. 4, No. 293,) there is a deinonstration of the actual economy that will result from an efficient system of seacoast defence; which is to the following effect, referring to the document itself for details.
There is first supposed to be an expedition of 20,000 men at Bermuda, or Halifax, ready to fall upon the coast. This will make it necessary, if there be no fortifications, to have ready a force at least equal, at each of the fol. lowing points, namely: 1st. Portsmouth and navy-yard. 2d. Boston and navy-yard. 3d. Narraganset roads. 41h. New York and navy-yard. 5th. Philadelphia and navy.yard. 6th. Baltimore. 7th. Norfolk and navy-yard. 8th. Charleston, S. C. 9th. Savannah; and 10th. New Orleans; to say nothing of other inportant places.
At each of these places, except the last, 10,000 men drawn from the inte. rior, and kept under pay, will suffice; the vicinity being relied on to supply the remainder. At New Orleans, 17,000 men must be drawn from a distance. In a campaign of six months, the whole force will cost at least $26,750,000.
The garrisons necessary to be kept under pay for the fortifications in these places will cost for the same time $8,430,500. The difference ($18,319,500) will then be only $3.448,156 less than the whole expense of building these defences, viz: $21,767,656. Whence it follows, that the expense of these erections would be nearly compensated by the saving they would cause in a single campaign. All which is respectfully submitted.
For the Board :
JOS. G. TOTTEN,