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Seacoast Fortification - Second System

History repeated itself in 1807 when the Congress again appropriated funds for the upgrading of seacoastfortifications in the wake of impressment of American seamen and the threat of war with Britain. This second system of seacoast fortification, was most notably characterized by the construction of all-masonry forts mounting guns in multiple tiers of casemates, allowing high concentrations of fire. These brick and stone forts were supplemented by an array of barbette batteries at other locations along the eastern seaboard and Gulf Coast.

Their development marks the first major manifestation of a strictly American capability for military engineering that followed from the recent establishment of the Military Academy at West Point. The national defense was sorely tested and found wanting during the War of 1812 as British seapower was able to land substantial invasion forces of regular troops in undefended localities in spite of generally effective resistance from fixed defenses. Indeed, the stand of Fort McHenry inspired Frances Scott Key to write The Star Spangled Banner, but British regulars were still able to conquer and burn the nation's capital in 1814.

A thoughtful reassessment of the fundamentals of the nation's defense policy unfolded in the relatively peaceful climate of the years that followed the War of 1812. Fixed coast fortifications more than held their own against direct challenge, yet they were successfully outflanked by landings supported by the dominant seapower of the Royal Navy. Once established ashore, the American field armies had mixed success in coping enemy land forces in battle. Although isolated successes of US warships on the highseas won renown, the role of the US Navy remained tied to the defense of coastal waters for most of the 19th century.

The report of the Secretary of War to the President, and by him transmitted to Congress, presented a complete view of the works reported to be necessary to complete the system of fortifications upon the 1826 plan. FIRST CLASS, TO HI. C8MMENCED AS SOOS AS POSSIBLE. Estimate of their cost. g?7,81u 79 Battery at Uayou Bienvenue, 94,582 30 For' at' Soller's Point Flats, Pa tapsco river, ' 673,205 44 Fort Tom..kins, \ew Yorlc, 420,826 14 Redoubt in advance of ditto, 65,162 44 Designation of the works. Fort St. Philip, Louisiana, SECOND CLASS, TO BE COMMENCED AT A I.ATER PERIOD. ' , , Estimate oft/iei Designation of tlte-works, cost Fort at Grand Terre, in Louisiana, 264,517 52 Tower at Pass au Heron, Mobile Bay, 16,677 41 Tower at Bayou Dupre, 16,677 41 Fort at Hawkins' Point, Patapsco river, 244,337 14 Fort St. Mary's, Potormic river, 205,602 33 Fort opposite Hea Patch, Delawar river, 347,257 71 Fort at Middle Ground, outer harbour, New York, 1,6?,411 66 Fortat East Bank, ditto, 1,601,411 66 For. Hale, Connecticut, 31,815 83 Fort Wooster, ditto, 27,7?? 34 Fort Trumbull, ditto, 77,445 21 Fort Griswold, ditto, 132,230 41 4,727,177 63 THIRD CLASS, TO BE COMMENCED AT A BEMOTI PERIOD. _ ... , Estimate of their Designation of the-marks. coi/ The rafts to obstruct the channel between Forts Monroe and Calhoun, S240.56.8 Fort Craney Island Flats, 258,465 00 Fort at Newport News, 244,337 14 Fort on Naseway Shoal, 673,21)5 44 1,416,575 58 RECAPITULATION. First class, ten works, 3,126,972 46 Second class, twelve works, 4,727,177 63 Third class, four works, 1,416,575 58 9,270,7-'5 67 Remahk. The classification in this table, distinguishing three periods, exhibits the works enumerated in the order of their efficiency to meet the earliest possible emergency. The following Historical, and Geographical view of the Forts, and system ot fortification in the United States, is extracted from a speech of Mr. Dickerson of N. J. in Senate, May 9th, 1826. VideJtat. Intel. May lot/,, 1826. The whole speech is highly worthy of attentive perusal. By the plan of 1821, the proposed fortifications, in addition 1o those previously erected for the defence of the maritime frontier, were divided into three classes, to be erected at three different periods, as the country may be ??? to bear the expense. Those of the first class to cost eight millions ten thousand and fifty-four dollars - to require for ganisons, in time of war, 0,305 men, and in time of peace, 2>540. The second class to cost {4,711,0 il, to require 8j615 men, in time of war, and 1,030 in peace. The third class to cost $5,073,970, and to require 9,042 men in war, and 1,120 in peace. To cost,'in all, gl7,795,055-say gl,000,000. to require in war 37,962-say 38,000 men, and in peace 4,690-say 5,000. By a report accompanying the President's message, of the 6th December 1825, estimates of additional works for defence of Boston Harbour and Narragansett Bay - for rafts to obstruct the channel between forts Monroe and Calhoun Fort at Craney Island Fort at New Port News- Fort at Naseway Shoal -Fort at Thomas's Point, and Fort at Point Patience, not included in the estimates of 1821, to the amount of nearly two millions of dollars. So that this scheme of forts, of 1821, as enlarged by the additions of 1825, is to cost nearly twenty millions of dollars, by the estimates submitted, which are several millions of dollars under what will be the real cost of these works; and this does not include the Forts Fayette and 'Washington, completed since the War of 1812, nor a great variety of forts erected previously to, and during the late war-as Fort George, Fort Preble, Fort Constitution, For Sewell, Fort Independence, Fort Warren, Fort VVolcott, Fort Adams, Fort Trumbull, Fort Columbus, Fort Lewis, Fort Wood, Fort MifBin, Fort McHenry, Fort Severn, Fort Pike, Fort Niagara, Fort Shelby, Fort Wayne, Fort Gratiot, Fort Howard, Fort Dearborn, Fort Harrison, Fort Nelson, Fort Norfolk, Fort Johnson, S. C., Fort Johnson, N. C., Fort Moultrie, Fort Scott, Fort Montgomery, Fort Crawford, (Al.,) Fort Charlotte, Fort Hampton, Fort Osage, Fort Clarke, Fort Edwards, Fort Armstrong, and Fort Crawford, at Prairie du Chien. These forts are of so much importance, that in the year 1817 they were all military stations, commanded by the different officers of our army, as appears by a report accompanying the President's message, of the 22d December, of that year. At that time 4,460 men were stationed at those forts. Many of them will no doubt be finally abandoned, but many of them must be repaired and garrisoned, to give any thing like uniformity to the system, and will cost us several millions of dollars. Accuracy, as to the expense of works of such magnitude, could not be expected. A man who builds knows that the estimates fall much below the actual cost. It is a matter of surprise that our engineers have been able to make their estimates with s near an approach to accuracy as they have ; and yet I do not doubt those estimates will be found, in the average, twenty-five per cent, below what these fortifications will cost. In the estimate of 1821, Old Point Comfort, now Fortress Monroe, was to oust - ... g816,814 By an estimate, accompanying the President's message, of 4th of March, 1824, this fortress is to cost 1,259,792 A difference of $442,978 in this one work, which no doubt will be much increased before the work is completed The for1 at the Higolets, by estimate ' of 821, to cost, - - - 264,517 By that of 1824, - - - 314,597 A difference of fifty thousand dollars. The fort at Chef Menteur, by estimate, of 1821, - - ,. - 260,517 By estimate of 1824, - - ' 300,905' A difference of forty thousand dollars. The fort at Pea Patch, by the estimate of 1821, to cost - - $258,000 By estimate in the President's message of 6th December last, - 469,767 A difference of g211,767 about 81 per cent. The history of the fort at this place, called Fort Delaware, may lead us to form some idea of what we may expect from other forts, by the time they are completed. Fort Delaware was calculated, in the first place, to be built upon a very large scale-to mount 212 guns; this plan was afterwards much reduced : and by the estimate of 1821, the whole expense of constructing the fort was fixed at g258,000. The work was then so far advanced, that no more than g55,000 were asked to complete the same ; and Congress, by act of 3d of March, 1821, appropriated this sum for Fort Delaware, and very wisely inserted in the law, that it was to complete the fort. On the 7th May, 1822, however, to make it a little more complete, Congress voted a further appropriation of g20,000 for Fort Delaware. On the 3d March, 1823, they voted the further sum of g58,000 for this fort. By a message of the President of the 4th March, 1824, it was stated that Fort Delaware was begun in 1817; that up to 30th September, 1823, it had cost $369,473 ; and that there was wanting to complete the same, g 10,236, in all g379,709. In 1824, it was discovered that Fort Delaware was so' badly built, that its walls would fall, without the help of an enemy. To satisfy the public, Major Babcock, under whose superintendence the work was constructed, has been tried by a court martial, but not found guilty of any criminal neglect or ignorance. On the 2d of March, 1825, a further appro-, priation is made for this fortification, of 71,679.50. By the President's message, of 6th December 1825, it appeared that Fort Delaware had cost, up to the 30th September, 1825, $431,872.54, and that there would be wanted to finish the same, $57,895.20. In all $469,767.74; which is 81 per cent, above the estimate of 1821 ; how much more will be wanted, we are not yet informed. All these circumstances and miscalculations, can be explained satisfactorily, nor are they stated to throw any censure upon the Engineer Department, but to show that this system of fortifications, is to cost much more than would appear, by the estimates submitted. At the Pea Patch, it was proposed to build fortifications on the opposite shores, to cost $347,257, as by estimate of 1821 ; but it was also contemplated to have two steam batteries there, and field works on the Jersey and Delaware shore, not included in that estimate. Two miles below Fort Delaware, there is a good landing on If we add to this, a proper allowance for under estimates, on the fortifications still to be finished-for loses on contracts-for the guns and armaments for all these torts-and if we make allowance for the forts not mentioned in the estimates of 1821, but which must be rebuilt, or repaired, our whole system of fortification, will stand us in ? sum not less than forty millions of dollars. The men required for the forts mentioned in the plan of 1821, were in time of war 37,962, in peace 4,690. For the forts of Washington and Fayette, not mentioned in the plan of 1821, 1600 men in time of war, and 200 in time of peace. For the forts mentioned in the estimate of 6th December, 1825, and not contained in the plan of 1821, 2000 men in war, and 250 in peace. To these, add the requisite number for garrisons efforts, that were occupied in 1817, many of which must again be occupied, if we make our system of fortifications complete upon our present magnificent plan, and we shall find that 50,000 men at least, will be wanted for fortifications in time of war, and 8,000 in peace. We have but few men in garrisons on our maritime frontier now. Our troops are stationed where they will be wanted. Most of those required for the garrisons in time of peace, most

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:46:11 ZULU