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none of which are used in this country, and there are none for any kind of American stone; there are, also, tables of the strength of foreign limes and mortars, and accounts of the modes of manufacturing them. Now, our hydraulic mortars are essentially different from the foreign ones, and we have long ceased to import Roman cement for building purposes. The cheapness of our hydraulic cement renders unprofitable the processes resorted to abroad for manufacturing an article which is inferior in quality.
Now, as all foreign information on the above subjects is of no practical use here, and causes superfluous study, and as, on the other hand, with the same pains bestowed on similar data for American materials, the student would acquire knowledge immediately useful to him, I submit that the course would gain by the change recommended above.
There are ample sources of information in this head ; and in the absence of such, for any special point, direct experiment may be resorted to by means, for example, of the machine used at some foundaries for testing samples of iron.
3. The department of engineering ought to possess collections of all the varieties of timber, cast and wrought-iron, building stones and limestones, and other materials referred to in the course.
A pupil cannot properly be expected to give an intelligent account of the natures and appearances of different qualities, for example, of iron, when all his knowledge of them is derived from a book, since the mass of youths who enter the academy either have not taken the pains, or never had an opportunity, to learn anything on such a subject by personal observation. A student cannot possibly describe the trees of America with respect to their leaf or bark, the hardness, durability, and strength of its timber, and the uses for which its qualities fit it, when probably he is unable to recognize more than a few of them in the woods, and not many by the appearance of the grain.
To exact recitations on this subject without having resort to the aids 1
propose, is to oblige the cadet to memorize his lessons for the purpose of getting a good mark on it; thus causing (as in many other instances throughout the academy) a waste of labor, and a wear and tear of the intellect, without a sufficient return.
I am strengthened in the opinion that the careful observation of fine collections will be of great service, by the fact that I have exhibited a private one to my class at West Point, and observed that the cadets displayed a real interest in the subject when thus illustrated and explained. There is no doubt but that both instructor and pupil will gain by the change; the former, because of the greater zeal and success of the latter.
For a collection of timber, I would recommend a slice of each species of tree, cut across the grain, showing the texture of the heart and sap, and the appearance of the bark; to be planed, and, when the wood is susceptible of it, polished. An herbarium should accompany this collection, showing the leaf and the fruit or seed of each variety.
There should be a collection of irons, beth cast and wrought, exhibiting a fracture, so as to show the grain, color, lustre, &c., of each variety. Such a collection of samples would be rather troublesome to keep in order, but the trouble of replacing the rusty pieces by new ones would be repaid by the resulting benefits.
A collection of building stones should comprise cubes of three inches, smooth or polished on one face.
There should also be samples of brick, lime, stones, and other materials not as important as to need enumeration.
Such a museum as above recommended would be of service to naturalists generally for reference, and would be an ornament to the academy, as well as directly useful for the purposes of instruction.
4. With regard to the course on machines, which is studied at present only by the highest section of the class, on account of the theory of the subject being developed by a calculus too hard for the rest to comprehend, I should recommend that it may be made more practical. The theory ought to be by this time understood by the cadets who reach this class, since they are all well grounded in it in the course of mechanics studied the previous year. It follows that there may be time saved in the engineering course by avoiding this repetition, and in place of it there might be taught a practical course, such as a mechanic would understand and be able to explain.
Such a course should explain the various applications of powerwhether steam, water, or animal—to the ordinary purposes of the engineer. For example, there should be taught (orally and by models) the best kinds of steam machines for dredging, pumping, and pile driving ; mill machinery, steam and horse power, cranes and derricks, both stationary and travelling; all these, at least in addition to the locomotive, stationary and steamboat engines, now explained to the highest section. Some practical rules should also be added to that given in the course for measuring the horse power of engines.
5. On the subject of foundations of edifices, there should be added the most recent methods for building on shoals and under water, &c. The pneumatic pile and screw pile should be described ; and for this purpose models of some of our light-houses will be excellent illustrations. Our seacoast forts also furnish some interesting examples of good foundations being secured under great disadvantages.
6. The use of cast and wrought-iron, and of corrugated iron, as building materials, especially in the construction of fire-proof buildings, should be noticed ; examples may be obtained from our customhouses and military buildings.
7. On the subject of river and seacoast improvements, I recommend an alteration in the matter and manner of treatment similar to that above proposed for railroads.
This branch of engineering has been illustrated on our rivers, lakes, and the sea-coast by works of the engineer and topographical engineer corps, which will compare favorably with any foreign ones for economy, success, and exhibition of perfect knowledge of the subject. Only one of these is alluded to in the present course, and of that no more than a passing remark is made; whereas, by explaining the subject of plans and drawings of the most important and successful American works, the student will gain practical and enlarged ideas, while, in addition, there will be offered to the engineering profession
of the country a fund of information which, although very valuable, is now lying hid in drawers and pigeon holes in the offices at Washington out of reach of the mass of the profession.
8. Architecture should be taught in a rather more practical manner. A description of the orders and a few pages of rules, general enough to apply to all sorts of edifices, are not sufficient; some practical rules for building frame, brick, or stone houses—such, for example, as a barracks or hospital-would add much of utility to this branch; and hints on the lighting, warming, and ventilation, would benefit the service generally.
This subject might be finely illustrated by examples from our recently erected public buildings built by the engineer corps, which have the merit of being constructed on modern principles and with the latest improvements.
Finally, the additions which are above proposed for the course are not so extensive as may appear at first; more changes than enlargements are required; and I estimate that in teaching the course indicated, in the manner prescribed, not more than six or eight weeks additional time will be found necessary.
These six weeks may be obtained for the purpose of discontinuing the teaching of engineering and drawing. At present three hours a day for six weeks are devoted to the drawing of a canal lock, resulting in the production of neatly finished plans, as well as the improvement of the class in ability to delineate their ideas, and to understand more readily those of others when thus presented. Still, I think that the cadet is well enough grounded in this respect before he arrives at this course, and that the additional time he is drilled on drawing is calculated rather to exhibit his proficiency than to teach him anything new. This will be apparent when the time devoted to drawing during the prior years is considered.
In the third class course, cadets draw for three hours a day during three weeks on descriptive problems, and, in addition, two hours every other day during the same year at topographical drawing; during the second class year, two hours every day are devoted to drawing; thus making in all an amount of time which is already more than commensurate with the importance of the subject; and I therefore consider the first class term of three hours a day for six weeks consumed in drawing a canal lock (and also the equal term of fortification drawing in the next course, which will be alluded to beyond) to be superfluous; and recommend that the whole of it may be suppressed for this reason, and the still stronger one, that room will thus be gained for the additions above enumerated.
The summary of the additions and changes suggested is as follows:
1st. To teach engineering according to the spirit of the profession in America.
20. To teach it as practically as possible ; preferring the use of maps, plans, models, and collections, and the oral method of instruction, and by practice with the instruments in the field, in certain parts of the course. 3d. All accounts of details and constructions to be derived from the
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experience of this country; and all information on foreign materials not in use here should be excluded from the course.
4th. Certain additions are recommended in detail.
Lastly, the course having been modelled on the above plan, should, by constant care, be kept posted up to the times, and exhibit a correct reflection of the state of the engineering profession in America.
Fortifications and Military Art.
Having already observed that nine months, instead of four and a half, will be, after September, 1858, devoted to the study of military science, I have a few suggestions to offer on this head. It must be noted that this is a favorable time to make changes in the course as now taught, and that it will be much better to commence the new one on a different and broader basis than to take the present one, and add to it enough, on a different plan, to fill up the added time. I mean that what I propose will be on a different plan, and that, as it will not harmonize with the existing course, the latter had better be entirely remodelled.
What I understand with regard to the new programme, as planned by the professor of engineering, is as follows:
1st. The course of field fortification to remain as it is.
4th. That there is to be added to No. 2 a foreign text book, possibly in French, on strategy and the art of war.
5th. To be added to No. 3 a course embracing the German system (so called) with one or two French and Dutch systems of the eighteenth century.
6th. Also a course of military history, embracing the campaigns of Frederick and Napoleon. This is entirely new,
The entire course, as now taught, is remarkable for the following traits :
1st. For ignoring the writings on fortifications and military science of the United States engineer corps.
2d. For not teaching the theory of American fortification.
3d. For not explaining the size, form, armament, and other elements of American forts.
4th. For teaching fortification as adapted to European States, instead of developing ideas suited to our enterprising people, immense territory, and extended sea-coast, with its wealthy ports, our railroads and telegraphs, rifles, and rifle cannon.
5th. “A study of the art of war, such as it is found in foreign treatises, deduced from the practice of European States, with their different forms of government, large standing armies, and contiguous inland frontiers.
6th. The teaching of allt he branches too abstractly, without referring for the derivation of general rules and principles to accounts of battles or sieges, or to existing or past permanent or temporary fortifications in this country or any other.
It is to insure the additions being taught in a different spirit, and to procure the remodelling of the existing course to conform with the additions, that I offer my views on the subject.
The criticism above given of the present course is requisite, to prove that some suggestions are as much needed as I have already shown they will be well timed. To complete it, I should add that everything is now taught with too great attention to details; that there is too much time wasted by the cadets in memorizing feet and inches, and that the idea he must thus imbibe, that dimensions are all-important in fortification, is inconsistent with that reliance on general principles which should be characteristic of a graduate of the Military Academy.
With his mind stocked with general principles, the officer can turn his theory to practical use by referring for details to books. Hand books of inforraation on all sorts of details of military and civil knowledge are at every one's disposal, and therefore there is no necessity for cramming the student with trifles of this sort; but general principles and self-confidence in selecting or originating a plan can only be gained (unless by experience in the field) by much well directed study and reflection.
No single year's course, however wisely planned, can be relied upon to impart to the student both the science of fortification and an acquaintance with its complicated details, and when the choice between the two is made, that least necessary will be found to be the one which teaches the dimensions and construction of those trifling parts which encumber text books on this subject, to the detriment of a broad consideration of the whole.
Fortification On this subject I recommend, in the first place, a course of history of fortification, very brief, showing mainly that the art of defence has, at every epoch, from the earliest times, followed and been subordinate to the arms and means at the disposal of the attack.
This course will impress the reason as well as the memory of the student with the general principles of the art, especially when it is elucidated by plans and models of those places of which the sieges are described. It should teach the various systems of fortification, from the early ages, when the sling, bow, and battering ram, were all the defence had to resist, up to the present century, say to 1815.
All of these are interesting, and their study will aid in giving the student the habit of independent reasoning on the principles of the art. They become more necessary and practical as we approach the present century.
They should be explained critically, but very briefly, by dwelling on the important ieatures, and avoiding details and accuracy of dimensions, and explaining them orally, and from drawings or models of existing or past real places, choosing in preference such as have been besieged.
On arriving at 1815, a second course must commence, one more particularly important and at the same time more difficult to treat. This is because the systems actually exhibited in fortified places built since that time are essentially different in principle, while the arms