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REPORT OF MAJ. GEN. JOHN R. BROOKE, U. S. A., COMMANDING
THE DEPARTMENT OF THE EAST.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE EAST, Governor's Island, New York City, September 29, 1900. ADJUTANT-GENERAL UNITED STATES ARMY,
Washington, D. C.
SIR: I have the honor to submit my annual report of the conduct of affairs in this department.
I assumed command of the department May 10, 1900. Previous to that time, under the orders of the Secretary of War, I had inspected the posts on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from Fort Monroe, Va., to New Orleans, La., and in addition the two posts on the Potomac below Washington.
As all the troops in this department belong to the artillery, with the following exceptions: the cavalry at Fort Myer, Va. (headquarters and four troops of the Fifth Cavalry); the infantry at Fort Columbus, New York City (three companies of the Eleventh Infantry); Fort Ethan Allen, Vt. (one company of the Eleventh Infantry); Madison Barracks, N. Y. (one company Fifteenth Infantry); Fort Ontario, N. Y. (one company Fifteenth Infantry); Plattsburg Barracks, N. Y. (one company Fifteenth Infantry), and Fort Porter, N. Y. (one company Fifteenth Infantry), I would invite especial attention to the remarks of the inspector of artillery, whose long and efficient service in the artillery branch of the Army gives particular weight to his recommendations in these days of rehabilitation and progress of our artillery.
It is impracticable at this time to make any recommendations regarding the artillery posts where the number of men enters as a factor, as it is impossible to calculate on any specific number; but I think that, as a minimum, the number of men necessary to form one relief for the guns established and proposed to be established should be taken as a basis of computation, and on that basis it would be possible for all departments of the Army to make positive plans for carrying on construction work.
It is not too early now to draw up plans for supporting the coast artillery; as it is not their province to act out of fortifications, their sphere of operations is limited and the presence of mobile troops to repel attacks from the rear and to prevent landing parties from gaining a foothold is imperative. I have previously referred to this matter, in my report dated April 16, 1900, as follows:
In all cases these defenses are vulnerable in case of attack from the rear. This, it is probable, will be looked out for by an army in the field, but the matter should be considered and the vicinity of each post for miles around should be mapped with a view to determining the lines of defense before the necessity for their use arises.
The importance of having all artillery in charge of coast fortifications stationed in the immediate vicinity of the guns becomes more apparent to me each day. While in numerous cases this means the
isolation of officers and men for the time such service is required, it is the only rational method of preparing for war and becoming accustomed to the conditions as they exist.
It is also imperative, in many cases, that more land should be acquired than that which has hitherto been bought for the erection of fortifications. This I have particularly noted in my recent inspection along the coast northeastward from here, and now is the time to acquire this land, so that when the forts are turned over to the line, barracks, quarters, storehouses, etc., may be ready for occupancy. In some places I have found that a very small plant for the accommodation of the garrison has been erected, and I cannot see that any provision has been made for its extension. I speak particularly of Plum Island, where there is a barrack for 60 men only. The garrison necessary to man the guns is 305, and the location of the barrack is distant from the nearest battery.
This is the case at many others of the defenses, and the need of making such corrections as may be possible does not require any argument. There are places along the coast where the defenses are exposed to danger from the inroads of the sea, which should receive prompt attention and be remedied before they are injured, either in themselves, their approaches, or surroundings. I believe that all this is known to the officers of engineers in charge, and I speak of it here as coming under my observation.
In my inspection of nearly all the posts and garrisons of this department, I have found that the enlisted men are exceptionally fine, physically, and also that the officers and enlisted men were enthusiastic in the matters relating to their profession, but at almost every post military duties are imperfectly performed and the instruction of the men handicapped by the lack of officers. Too many batteries and companies have only one officer present for duty, and at many posts where detachments are stationed there is no officer in command.
I desire to invite attention to the work done by the Chief Signal Officer in perfecting a system of wireless telegraphy. While this does not belong to departmental affairs, its utility to the Army at large is very great.
Plans should be perfected at the earliest possible date for complete and perfect communication between the units composing any fortress and the fortress commander.
For details of administrative work performed, I wish to invite attention to the reports of the various staff officers on duty at these headquarters These duties have been well performed, as is evidenced by the reports in each case.
The matter of the Army reorganization has attracted a great deal of attention recently. For many years past the general officers of the Army have shown the necessity for an increase which will place the Army on an efficient basis and enable it to perform its duties with credit to itself and to the satisfaction of the nation. The events since the commencement of the Spanish war have demonstrated beyond doubt the necessity for a reorganization which will enable this nation to maintain the position in which it now finds itself placed, so that, in case of war, the Army may form the bulwark behind which the volunteer army may be created, as has always been done in our country, by organizing the people.
I am sir, very respectfully,
JOHN R. BROOKE, Major-General, Commanding.