Слике страница

of the seas ; that, after the peace of Amiens, Lord Sidinonth wished to renew the treaty of commerce which had been made by Vergennes, after the American war ; but that he, anxious to encourage the industry of France, had expressed his readiness to enter into a treaty-10t like the former, which it was clear from the portfolio of Versailles must be injurions to the interests of France, but on terms of perfect reciprocity, viz: that if France took so many millions of English produce, England should take back so many millions of French produce in return." Lord Sidmouth replied : “ This is totally new ; I cannot make a treaty on these conditions.” “Very well,” replied the Emperor, “ I cannot force you into a treaty of commerce, any more than you can me; and we must remain as we are, without commercial intercourse.” “ 'Then," continued Lord Sidmouth, “there will be war; for, unless the people of England have the advantages of commerce secured to them which they have been accustomed to, they will force me to declare war.” And war was made accordingly.

Here we have apt illustration of these three important points now under consideration, to wit: What are the interests most likely to be assailed ; second, by what means they are to be assailed; and, lastly, the most effectual means of resisting this assault.

It seems to me that the mere statement of this question points out irresistibly the answer---the policy best adapted to the condition of our country.

'Is it not incumbent, then, iipon us, if the foregoing conclusions be correct, to adopt a practical system thus so clearly indicated-unerring in its means, and so certain in the result? a system that can protect our firesides; which cun remove the seat of war hy meeting our eneiny abroad, instead of inviting attack at home by awaiting it; which shall shelter our cominerce in every sea; which resents as well as 'resists injury and insult; in peace powerful for useful purposes alone, but not dangerous to freedom; * and adapted to the institutions, the wants, and the actual condition of our beloved country.".

The extent to which this policy should be adopted has already, in general terms, been pointed out, both by the high authority which so earnestly reconimends it, and the military report which marks the limits of the max. inium hostile force which we must be prepared to meet, and by the striking events of the fast forty years, so well known in naval history.

Our naval force may find a limit in “that imposed by a due regard to the public revenues, from tiine to time, and by the probable condition of other maritime nations;" by the consideration of the vast interests which we have afloat-of those domestic institutions which may be fatally endangered by the too near approach of avowed enemies, even in acknowledged peace ; and by the recollection that the pretence is never wanting, when the consciousness of power stiinulates the destruction of rival intercosts, as in the meinorable instance at Copenhagen,

After the foregoing remarks, my opinions as to the proper dispositions to be made by Government for the defence of the Gulf of Mexico cannot be mistaken. But from causes which may be briefly stated, and which may be assumed as peculiar to the Gulf of Mexico, from its geographical feaiures, a modification of this general plan of defence, as to it, seems necessary; and it is subject of congratulation that the best defences for this

section of our country are the cheapest, from being readily derived from most abundant resources.

The navigation of the Gulf of Mexico is at all times uncertain, and particularly so during the summer months, from the long protracted calms, and because of the ocean currents. The harbors, for the most part, are accessible only to the smaller ships of war, but offering, at short distances, inlets which will admit steain ships of war, either of a friendly or hostile flag, into the heart of our own or adjacent territories. Generally, these iulets to our interior waters are pot defensible by permanent works, unless multiplied to infinity ; for the access to the inner waters is, almost without exception, by several avenues. Besides, there are many sheltered roadsteads, which no fixed works could in any way command, and which, occupied in time of war by a hostile feet, would blockade the Gulf, but which could not, or at least would not, probably, be held by an enemy, in the face of steam ships of war.

The numerous harbors of our neighbors sonth of the Mississippi will afford entry, shelter, and supplies, to the cruising war steamers of an enemy, being at the same time inaccessible to the usual draught of ships of war. Here, lying at our very doors, it would not be too much to say that our vast commerce of the Southwest, which constitutes the wealth of ncarly one-half of our people, would be entirely at their mercy. There is not a hamlet, far less a city, on the Gulf coast, which can be thoroughly defended from a moderate force of war steamers and ships of war by permanent works, save Pensacola.

Already three large works have been constructed for the security of this last. Two more are in contemplation, to assist in the defence; and still one channel (St. Rosa's iulet) is open to the enemy, by which it can be approached.

So of Appalachicola, which is fast rising to importance. There are four inlets froin the sea, one of which cannot be closed by works at all. The city of St. Joseph, too, seated on the margin of a deep and sheltered bay, cannot be protected from an enemy by works on shore.

The same may be said of the city of Mobile, the access to which is too open, and by too many channels, to be well secured by works at any cost; and certainly no number of them would secure its commerce from a naval foe.

But the most important poin-namely, the Mississippi-remains to be considered.

There are so many branches leading to the main stem of this mighty river, and making a junction with it either above or below the city of New Orleans, that it is a question whether the revenues of the nation could effectually close them to an enemy by fortifications, if assailed by stean ships of war.

But the attack and defence of fortified places on the Gulf of Mexico is but one-half of the subject-matter. The main question, viz: the usance of the seas—the protection and security of the active commerce—this is the point to be considered; and may be answered, fortunately, that the same power which can keep an enemy at arm's length can also shield it in the transit of the ocean.

The commerce of Great Britain hardly suffered interruption, and her revenue therefore was unimpaired, by the long wars in which she was en


Her fleets secured her treasure. I should not hesitate to apply here with particular emphasis the principles set forth above, as to our true means of defence and protection for the Gulf frontier.

Our steam ships of war, and, when the occasion shall demand it, our heavier fleet, will be ample security for our Southwestern frontier.

From the geographical peculiarities of the Gulf of Mexico above referred to, the establishment of a naval station of construction and repair for steam ships of war seems to be as necessary as it would be judicious. This portion of our country should not be entirely dependent upon the naval resources and preparations of the Eastern section of our common country, abounding as it does in all the material and personnel necessary to this branch of the naval service. The waters of the Mississippi will afford good harbors on many points between New Orleans and the town of Memphis, for the establishment of a dock yard. The timber, iron, hemp, coals, and all the materials of construction, are found in the vicinity, or have access to this point by water. Forges, soundries, and machinery, are in active operation in the adjoining districts; and a numerous body of workmen fansiliar with the labors of naval constructions, as applied to steamers, which cannot be surpassed in industry or skill by any mechanics in the country.

This position would be secure from all the accidents of war, which might annihilate our naval arsenals on the seaboard ; or, were our other ports shut up by an enemy, here, at our leisure, a naval force might be collected, from the ample resources of the country, which could turn the tide of war.

With a dock yard here, New Orleans would be safe : a short time would suffice to convert every steamer on the river into a steam ship of war-a force that would be imposing from numbers, from their armaments furnished by this naval arscnal, and the hardy boatmen summoned to defend them. They would go forth a fleet powerful from the application of a system of discipline which would soon combine their force.

We may sum up this subject, then, with the remarks:

Ist. The facts of history teach us that fortifications built within reach of fleets cannot interdict the passage of ships through a strait, as seen at Cronenburg, the Dardanelles, Flushing, Fort Washington, and other places.

2d. That they do not and cannot, from their nature, prevent access to a coast or the landing of troops, at the option of an enemy.

3d. That hostile fleets may hold at pleasure the roadsteads and anchorages on our coast, in defiance of the most numerous and most powerful works.

4th. That fortifications do not and cannot successfully resist the attack of ships, as recited in the nuunerous examples of their reduction by naval armaments.

5th. That they involve the necessity of an army-navy, viz : steam ships of war, attached to each, to render them even secure.--(See report of Engineer bureau, Doc. 206, 26th Congress.)

6th. That they make a large standing army necessary in order to take care of them when finished, although the system professes to supersede the necessity of both army and navy, in a great degree.

7th. Because this system of fortified places is dangerous to freedom. The Parliament of England has ever refused to fortify the country, because of a jealous and well-founded apprehension of the danger to the liberties of the people, arising from these strongholds.

8th. That they are useless, nay dangerous, without an army, educated to defend them, and of competent nuiubers.

9th. That they cannot protect our active commerce beyond the reach of their guns, and therefore in no wise a substitute for a naval force, as it is professed they are.

10th. That this system of fortifications, thus inert when finished, will cost the country one hundred millions, and make the necessity for a large army and navy, more imperative than before completion.*

lith. We have seen the most powerful nation of the earth attain her greatness and retain her power by her naval means, without the aid of fortifications; nay, subdue those of her enemies, and reject their aid for her defence-an example fully applicable to our country.

12th. We may therefore conclude that this system of fortifications is not the true desence of the country, and that the further prosecution of it should be abandoned,

13th. We have shown the ability of fleets to protect an unfortified country from the assaults of all its enemies, tempting the cupidity of other nations by its enormous wealth-a country successful in all her wars by the agency of this arm, and whose soil has never been touched by a hostile foot.

14th. We have shown the ability of a fleet to resent insult and to punish aggression, without bringing the calamities of war to their own shore.

15th. We have shown that, by the aid of maritime forces, the revenue of a country is preserved, and the “ sinews of war" derived from trade are strengthened in war, rather than diminished or destroyed, as they would be if the power of war lay in defensive works.

16th. That, by a competent naval preparation, the free use of the seas would be ours, our own coasts would be under our own guardianship, which they are not now; and that those questions of international law which now embarrass would take a more suitable complexion.

17th. That our country would be fully able to sustain this arm of national defence on an adequate footing, if relieved, from the “intolerable burden” of defence hy fortifications.

18th. That, in the average of years, a navy is the cheapest means of national defence.

19th. And, therefore, that, in general terms, our defensive policy should be by naval means.

20th. Froin the local peculiarities of the Gulf of Mexico, steam ships should enter largely into the consideration of the best means for its defence.

To complete the defences of the Gulf of Mexico, I s!iould esteem the establishmeut of this Western dock yard of the last importance. All which is respectfully submitted.


Lieutenant U. S. Navy. Commodore Lewis WARRINGTON,

President of the Board of Navy Commissioners.

*The estimate of the Ordnance department, in 1836, was for munitions of war, &c., under this system, $29,955,537; and for completion of the works in progress, and projected, $31,561,268 sixty-one and one-half millions of dollars!

2d Session.





May 12, 1842.
Read, laid upon the table, and ordered to be printed.


Washington, May 10, 1842. SIR : I beg leave to call to your notice the state of the marine corps. The force of the corps now at sea is composed of 77 sergeants, 85 corporals, and 754 privates, and 24 drummers and 23 fifers. In addition to this, I was directed by the Secretary, on the 9th instant, to furnish guards for the Columbus 74 and the frigate Constitution, which will require, even as small as the guards now are, 6 sergeants, 6 corporals, 2 drummers, 2 fifers, and 90 privates. This will make the force at sea 3 sergeants and 11 cor- , porals more than the law now gives to the corps, and nearly all the musicians and privates. By the last general return, made out on the 1st April last, there was then in the corps 135 more than allowed by law, which has no doubt been increased since. This statement shows how urgently necessary an early action on the bill for the enlargement of the marine corps has become, and I deem it my duty to lay it before the naval committees, both in the Senate and House of Representatives.

"The present condition of the navy will give active employment to all the officers and men provided for in the bill introduced into the House of Representatives. In case the present anticipations in relation to the navy are realized, an additional enlargement will be necessary in the course of the ensuing year, and I submit it for your consideration, whether it would not now be advisable to add 500 privates to those provided for in the bill.

It would save great trouble to the Department to give authority to the commandant of the corps to order courts martial, in the same manner that a colonel in the army commanding a separate district now has power to order them, and as the commandant of the corps always ordered them before the

passage of the law of June 30, 1834.
I remain, most respectfully, your obedient servant,

ARCH. HENDERSON, Col. Commandant. Hon. HENRY A. WISE,

Chairman Com. Navul Affairs, Ho. of Reps.

« ПретходнаНастави »