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system adopted, and not a single American work is adduced as an example, described, or alluded to in any way.
To remedy this great fault of omission, I submit the following plan, being a course in two parts:
The first part should comprise a study, aided by maps and models, of all the fortifications of the United States now built or in progress. There are two reasons for this: they are scientific and well adapted to the site, locality, and the genius of the people; they are also for different purposes and on a different principle, with some exceptions, from those of other countries, and the theory of them cannot be developed by the study of any foreign ones.
2dly. In the event of a war, it will be of great advantage, in the defence of any fort, to have its officers, from the commander down, perfectly acquainted, not only with the importance of the position, but as capabilities and the theory of its defence.
This desirable state of things does not exist now, as I confidently assert, and the defect is, in my opinion, owing to a certain disgust for the science which the officer contracts while passing through the Military Academy, and to the omission above specified.
I have stated that the theory of fortification in this country cannot be elucidated by the study of any foreign forts or books; as this is not self-evident, a brief comparison in support of it may not be out of place.
Our people have no fears of invasion, and, so far from building forts for the defence of the soil, anticipate a constant and accelerated expansion of territory.
In this we differ from foreign nations, whose history teaches them that a fortified land frontier, an impregnable capital, and a large standing army, are indispensable to their possession of the soil, or even their existence as a separate people.
But however secure we may be on this point, we must foresee that in our next war, the steam fleets, floating batteries, and gun-boats, of France and England, may be directed against our sea-board cities; that the consequences of defeat would be the ruin of the navy yards, the loss of the naval and merchant fleets, and of the tribute expected from the cities whose defences are forced. Also, that the point of retreat, lost to our vessels, is a proportionate gain to the enemy, who may so strengthen himself there as to retain it as a rendezvous to sally from either against our commerce or to make a combined attack on a neighboring city.
On the other hand, taking the case of England, a difference appears, not so much in the requirements of the problem as in the mode of fulfilling them.
The wealth of England is gained in commerce or extracted from her foreign possessions, and hence she is obliged to maintain an immense navy, which is more than adequate to the protection of her coast; her wooden walls are now, as in the time of Napoleon I, the safe-guard of her wealth at home as well as abroad Hence, the coast detences of Britain are trifling, and the few strongholds she possesses, dispersed over the world, are intended for purposes entirely different from those which our forts, with one or two exceptions, must subserve: the
depots and rendezvous for her navy and privateers, at points distant from home or stations on the routes to her foreign dominions, or finally they are placed in menace at the doors of a rival power, (Malta, Gibraltar, and Aden, are examples of the first two, and the Bahamas, Bermuda, Barbadoes, &c., of the last description of places.)
Without pushing the comparison any further, it may be stated that the works of France are generally of a much older date than ours, and hence, even where they answer similar purposes, do not illustrate as well the theory of a sea-coast defence. From Russia we may probably draw some useful ideas; but, by all means, let the student learn first what has been done at home. And here it must be noted that, up to this time, the entire theory of fortification inland, as well as sea-coast, has been explained without referring to any plans or models of any fortifications of this country or any other.
In order to teach fortification as it is, and not as an abstract science, its theory should be drawn from examples (and sufficient reasons are given above for the selection of those examples from our own country) in that part of the course which treats of its peculiar necessities and modes of defence.
These examples should be presented by modes on a scale large enough to give a good idea of the features of the works, and by plans which shall take in the entire field of action of their guns.
The existing American system will be developed by the above method without much need of demonstration; it does not adhere blindly to the dogmas of any foreign school, for our chief engineers and boards of officers have been imbued with the true spirit of the profession and their works exhibit the elements and combinations of the French and German schools, either purely or mixed together in the same work, as the nature of its site, its locality, its purpose, or the particular theory of its defence, may require.
American fortification as it will be.
Necessary as it is that our Military Academy should teach the theory of the existing American system of fortification, it is nevertheless true that this system will not suffice to guide the works which may be constructed during the military period which has just dawned.
For example, take the French or pure brtion system, mainly according to which Paris is fortified, which is followed in many of our forts, and which is being taught at the Military Academy with such close adherence to the orthodox creed that its dimensions are insisted on to eighths of an inch.
The basis on which rest all the dimensions is the range of the firearm which defends it; the one in use until lately was the wall piece, a weapon which has been entirely superseded by the rifle with its elongated hollow ball, whose effects are much more deadly, and at a range four times as great as that of the former.
Our sea-coast defences are even more decidedly affected by the changes in the weapons and means of war than the inland works to which the bastion system is most appropriate; they must, in the next war, prepare to resist those floating batteries which, clad in armor,
(proof against the missiles which have hitherto been the terror of fleets,) demolished the fortress of Kinburn.
Bomb-ships of great destructive range, such as those used at Sweaborg, will hereafter form an important part of an attacking flotilla, and steam gun-boats will, by their skirmishing attacks, distract the attention of the defenders from the breaching fire of the floating batteries.
The fleets of ships-of-war, to guard against which all our forts have been devised, will not probably again be used in war except against other fleets, or to bring up to their positions of attack the unwieldy floating batteries, or to act as their tenders, to supply men, ammunition and provisions in a protracted attack.
The attack of a sea-coast fort will now, in fact, assimilate closely to the siege of an inland work; the consideration of the elements which will henceforth be involved in the problem will make this clear; and it must be admitted that the new necessities of the case demand new dispositions to meet them. To expect that a science will remain stationary while its elements expand so rapidly is an indication of prejudice or a want of reflection.
I therefore suggest that a new American system of fortification, adapted to the requirements of the age, be written out by some capable hand, and that it be adopted as a part of the course of engineering at the Military Academy.
Strategy and the art of war.-At present two weeks are devoted to the study of the above subject. The text book is a condensed compilation of foreign treatises on the subject, and the fault common to all the other branches of the year's course is conspicuous in this, viz: neglecting to derive or at least support general principles from examples.
In the enlarged course it is contemplated to teach some campaigns of Frederic and Napoleon and a foreign text book on the art of war on a large scale.
The sources from which the present text book is drawn, and which will furnish the additions, are altogether foreign; they were also written before the present era of innovations, and of course none of them touch upon that sort of warfare and military service which are peculiar in our Indian or sea-coast frontier.
Nearly all our army is occupied in guarding the former, and when the graduate joins his company he is detailed immediately on active service, when he finds that he has not gained at the Military Academy any ideas which will supply in part his want of experience. The circumstances in which he is thrown and his first military duties are perfectly novel to him, and he cannot refer for information on them to books, because there are none on the subjeet. There should therefore be written a manual of instruction for young officers; it should explain the duties of subalterns in our service, so as to enable them to join their companies with some ideas of what they are expected to do, and giving them some rules to follow in the execution of their duties: for example, how to provide provisions, clothing, &c., for a march, how to journey over the plains, to encamp, to care for the travelling condition of men and animals, to fight or treat with the
Indians; all these the officer learns from experience alone, at a disadvantage to himself, and to the detriment of the service, from the blunders he commits in acquiring his experience.
With regard to military history (the campaign of Frederic and Napoleon,) as it is inseparable from general history, and as it must be studied as a part of the latter in a previous course (that of ethics,) it appears unnecessary to consume any time with it in the present one. As, however, the Russian war will not probably be included in the course above referred to until time has rendered it classical, a condensed history of it will be necessary, in illustration of whatever modern principles of warfare that may be inculcated.
The numerous examples from the campaigns of Napoleon that are indispensable to this course, may be referred to by the aid of maps without much preparation, for there is no reason why the cadet should not have a proper acquaintance with them before arriving at the last year's course.
With regard to the unwritten art of war, or those principles which have developed themselves since all the present text books were written, there is more of importance in it than in any exposition of the art as it existed in the times of Frederic or Napoleon, either of those epochs being as distinct from that in which we live as from each other.
The last war has demonstrated that the magnetic telegraph and the introduction of steamships and railroads have greatly changed the principles of warfare; and the long range rifle and the improved cannon have had a great effect in modifying them.
All the rules of strategy and warfare must be altered to suit the new order of things; and it is a brief essay on modern war which ought to form the chief part of this course. An important feature of this should be a chapter or two demonstrating the existing reciprocal support which fortifications, active armies, and fleets, lend each other, and the theory of the defence by fortifications, the regular army, and the militia and volunteer troops of the sea-coast frontiers of the United States should be carefully elaborated.
Though the above programme appears at first extensive, still, considering that history is here only referred to and explained from maps. by the instructor, and not to be recited by the cadet, (except the short account of the Russian war,) and since the principles of strategy are few and simple, and the practical treatises recommended need be but very concise, the student may be sufficiently instructed in the elements of the course of the art of war, &c., in one month.
Synopsis of proposed course of engineering.
Second class year:
First class year:
A.-Fortification. (a.) 1st period, history of field and permanent works: 1st part up to 1815; 2d part up to 1850; 3d part up to 1856......
(b.) 2d period. Discussion of existing systems; fortifi-
B.-Art of war, &c. (a.) Manual of instruction for
NOTE. Prepared for the use of the Board of Visitors of 1857, at the United States Military Academy, and respectfully submitted to them
JAS. ST. C. MORTON,
RIVERS AND HARBORS, ETC.
Of the works of river and harbor improvement under the charge of this department, only such as have been prosecuted during the past year are noticed in the special reports which follow.
The control of the works for "reopening a communication between Albemarle sound and Atlantic ocean," "improving the Cape Fear river," and "removing obstructions to navigation in the mouth of the Mississippi river at the Southwest Pass and Pass à l'Outre," has been transferred to the topographical bureau by the direction of the War Department.
Improving the Kennebeck river from the United States arsenal in Augusta, Maine, to Lovejoy's narrows; in charge of Captain John D. Kurtz.-The operations of last fall were restricted to blasting a rock near Naumkeag island, and resulted in deepening the channel upon it to six feet nine inches at the lowest tide, and fourteen feet at high water. The balance on hand and the means resulting from the sale of machinery, &c., have since been applied to removing troublesome and dangerous rocks from Gage shoal, Governor'e Grave shoal, Brett's shoal, and Hinckley's point, and operations have been closed for want of funds.
The result of the application of the appropriation of $6,000, made for this improvement in 1852, has been to afford a channel from the United States arsenal at Augusta to the south line of Hallowell, free from the dangerous rocks, snags, &c., which previously obstructed it. To make the navigation from Sheppard's wharf to Hallowell and