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THE CHIEF OF
UNITED STATES ARMY.
OFFICE OF THE CHIEF OF ENGINEERS,
UNITED STATES ARMY, Washington, D. C., September 23, 1891.
SIR: I have the honor to present for your information the following report upon the duties and operations of the Engineer Department for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1891:
OFFICERS OF THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS.
The number of officers holding commissions in the Corps of Engineers, U. S. Army, at the end of the fiscal year was 113.
Since the last annual report the corps has lost three of its officers, Capt. Frederick A. Hinman, by retirement, February 26, 1891, in conformity with section 1251, Revised Statutes; Capt. Willard Young and Lieut. Eugene J. Spencer, by resignation, February 22, 1891, and August 12, 1890, respectively.
On the 30th of June, 1891, the officers were distributed as follows: Commanding the Corps of Engineers and the Engineer Department Office of the Chief of Engineers...
Board of Engineers, fortifications, river and harbor works, and Division Engineer. Board of Engineers, Board of Ordnance and Fortification, and Division Engineer. 1 Fortifications, river and harbor works, and Division Engineers....
Board of Engineers, Mississippi River Commission, Division Engineer, and Board of Visitors
Board of Engineers, fortifications, river and harbor works, and Board of Visitors. Washington Aqueduct
River and harbor works.
Fortifications, and river and harbor works...
Mississippi River Commission and Missouri River Commission..
Fortifications, Post of Willets Point, U. S. Engineer School, and Batallion of Engineers
River and harbor works, and Missouri River Commission
Public buildings and grounds, Mississippi River Commission, and Missouri River Commission
Detached, with Board of Commissioners of the District of Columbia, at Military Academy, with Light-House Establishment, and as military attachés...
The officers detached were on duty as follows:
Lieut. Col. Henry M. Robert, Engineer Commissioner of the District of Columbia
Maj. William S. Stanton, engineer first and second light-house districts...
Capts. William T. Rossell and James L. Lusk, assistants to the Engineer Commissioner of the District of Columbia
Capt. George McC. Derby, and Lieuts. Eugene W. VanC. Lucas and Charles H. McKinstry, on duty with Company E, Battalion of Engineers, and at Military Academy
Capt. Theodore A. Bingham, military attaché to the United States legation at Berlin
Lieuts. Harry F. Hodges, Lansing H. Beach, and Joseph E. Kuhn, on duty at Military Academy
In section 3 of the act of October 1, 1890, " An act to provide for the examination of certain officers of the Army and to regulate promotions therein," occurs this proviso:
That the examination of officers appointed in the Army from civil life, or of officers who were officers of volunteers only, or were officers of the militia of the several States called into the service of the United States, or were enlisted men in the regular or volunteer service, either in the Army, Navy, or Marine Corps, during the war of the rebellion, shall be conducted by boards composed entirely of officers who were appointed from civil life or of officers who were officers of volunteers only during said war, and such examination shall relate to fitness for practical service and not to technical and scientific knowledge; and in case of failure of any such officer on the reexamination hereinbefore provided for, he shall be placed upon the retired list of the Army.
All officers of the Corps of Engineers who are affected by this proviso were appointed cadets at the United States Military Academy, and graduated there, subsequently to their service during the war of the rebellion. They have all, since graduation, served more than 20 years on the various duties committed to the Corps of Engineers; all have attained the grade of captain and have passed examinations for promotion to the grades successively of first lieutenant and captain.
These officers should be able to pass a satisfactory examination on the technical and scientific knowledge required to discharge the duties of an officer of the Corps of Engineers.
It is recommended that officers of the Corps of Engineers be excepted from the provisions of this third section, above quoted, and that the examination of an officer of the Corps of Engineers as to professional efficiency shall be by the legal board upon which there shall be three officers of engineers, senior to him in rank, the former requirement of Revised Statutes section 1206.
For 15 years prior to August 18, 1890, no appropriations had been made for the construction of works of seacoast defense. In this period great advances have been made in the construction of ordnance; and the increased power developed rendered necessary works of increased resistance to projectiles. In the naval ordnance of foreign powers are to be found guns of 100 and 110 tons, mounted in vessels belonging to Great Britain and Italy. The existence of this ordnance afloat necessi tates a certain corresponding resistance of works of defense, a corre
sponding thickness of cover. It is not probable that a further increase of cover will be required. Already the substitution of 67-ton guns for those of 110 tons is seriously discussed, and the tendency on the part of foreign powers is toward the adoption of the gun of lesser weight for its heaviest caliber afloat. The time, then, is propitious for the con struction of modern fortifications. General projects for the defense of Portland, Me., Boston, New York, Washington, Hampton Roads, and San Francisco, have been prepared and have received the approval of the Chief of Engineers and the Secretary of War, and under the appropriations of August 18, 1890, and February 24, 1891, $1,221,000 and $750,000, respectively, works have been commenced in furnishing emplacements for high-power guns.
The act of August 18, 1890, requires that the amount appropriated thereby should be applied as follows: Boston, $235,000; New York, $726,000; San Francisco, $260,000. Of these amounts there remain soon to be allotted, on the receipt of detailed projects, amounts as follows: Boston, $63,960.73; San Francisco, $59,000.
Of the appropriation of February 24, 1891, the following allotments have been made: To the defenses of New York, $285,349.25; Hampton Roads, $158,848; Washington, $117,150; and San Francisco, $15,000. A balance of $173,652.75 remains, which will shortly be allotted to works at Boston and San Francisco, upon the receipt of detailed projects in course of preparation. Details of the works contemplated and in course of construction under the allotments from both appropriations are given below.
While the general projects prepared contemplate the use of turrets, shields, barbette batteries, and mortar batteries, the works now under construction are barbette batteries, including those in which guns are mounted on lifts, and mortar batteries. No works which contemplate the use of iron are now being built, but concrete covered with sand is used to shield the armament and gunners, and the disappearing principle of mounting guns has generally been had in view in designing batteries.
For the construction of gun and mortar batteries an estimate of $2,647,000 is submitted. This amount, with appropriations already made, will be required to supply emplacements for only such armament as will be fabricated by January 1, 1894. To prepare emplacements for the armament to be completed by January 1, 1893, an estimate of $1,735,000 was submitted; as $750,000 only was appropriated, the present estimate necessarily greatly exceeds the amount of the last appropriation.
The last Congress appropriated $1,000,000 for the procurement of land, or right pertaining thereto, needed as sites for fortifications and coast defeuses. The act of August 18, 1890, authorized the acquisition of such sites by condemnation, purchase, or donation; $343,692.74 has been allotted and $250,000 so far expended for the purchase of 514 acres in Boston Harbor, 36 acres in New York Harbor, and 200 acres at Sheridans Point, on the Potomac River near Fort Washington; and for the expenses preliminary to the condemnation of other sites. The Department of Justice has been requested to institute proceedings for the condemnation of 167 acres in New York Harbor, 54 acres at San Francisco, 91 acres at Sheridans Point, and 44 acres at Hampton Roads; and for a site of 50 acres at Plumb Island, New York, an award bas been made. In this case land valued by the United States at $50,000, and by the owner at $150,000, was valued by the jury at $90,000. Judging from this isolated case the existing balance of appropriations
not allotted will not suffice for the acquisition of the sites whose condemnation has been requested. Other sites also being necessary for carrying out existing projects of defense, an estimate of $500,000 is submitted for the acquisition of additional sites for gun and mortar batteries.
For the protection, preservation, and repair of fortifications, for which there may be no special appropriation available, $80,000 was appropriated August 18, 1890, and an equal amount February 24, 1891. As special appropriations are no longer made for individual works, these amounts must be applied to the ordinary expenses and the preservation and repair of all existing fortifications; no part of the general appropriations for the construction of gun and moitar batteries being thus applied. Accordingly allotments were made for current expenses and for the most urgent and necessary repairs of works; a balance of . $7,257.46 being now held in reserve for such special repairs and contingencies as can not now be foreseen. For many years, previous appropriations for this purpose ranged from $100,000 to $175,000, and were found necessary; it is not prudent to reduce these below the amounts of each of the last two appropriations, and therefore an estimate of $80,000 for the protection, preservation, and repair of fortifications is submitted.
For the construction of needful casemates and cable galleries there was appropriated August 18, 1890, $100,000, and February 24, 1891, $50,000. At the date of my last annual report there were building or completed casemates, as follows: 2 at Boston, 5 at New York, and 2 at San Francisco. These nine are now completed, and as their average cost was found to be less than the amounts allotted for their construction, the balances of a previous appropriation were re-allotted to other works.
Projects have been prepared and approved for additional casemates, as follows: Portland, 1; Philadelphia, 1; Washington, 1; Hampton Roads, 1; Charleston, 1; San Francisco, 1; in all, six. Projects are being prepared for two for the defense of Narragansett Bay, and an additional casemate at Philadelphia. The construction of these three will probably consume the existing available balance of previous appropriations, which is $104,753.21. Seventeen casemates are thus provided for the places named, but the proposed defenses call for thirty. The construction of these important auxiliary defenses should continue, and for this purpose an estimate of $200,000 is submitted, which will probably suffice
for six casemates.
Additional sea walls and embankments are required at Davids and Governors islands. At Davids Island, besides protecting the shore, 1 acres of land will be reclaimed by a wall and embankment 1,100 feet long; at Governors Island a wall 325 feet long is required on the east side to replace wharf fronts and timber bulkheads now decaying and rapidly deteriorating.
The restoration of Fort Marion, St. Augustine, Fla., and the improvement of the grounds has been carried on under a special appropriation of $15,000; $6,000 is asked to complete this work. A detailed report is given below.
Boston Harbor, Massachusetts.-Officer in charge, Lieut. Col. S. M. Mansfield, Corps of Engineers, with Capt. S. S. Leach, Corps of Engineers, under his immediate orders.
The approved project for the defense of this harbor contemplates, for the present, an armament of twelve 12-inch guns on lifts, fifteen 10-inch
and five 8-inch guns on disappearing carriages, one hundred and twentyeight 12-inch mortars, and submarine mines to be operated from four mining casemates. An emplacement for one 8-inch gun is under construction; the necessary demolition of old masonry and earthwork has been well advanced toward completion and considerable new concrete material collected and stored; detailed plans for two emplacements for 10-inch guns are near completion; a mortar battery for sixteen mortars was commenced late in June, 1891; two mining casemates have been completed.
New York Harbor, New York.-Officers of the Corps of Engineers in charge: Col. D. C. Houston, Lieut. Col. G. L. Gillespie, with Lieut. Harry Taylor under his immediate orders, and Lieut. Col. W. R. King. The projects for the defenses of both the southern and eastern entrances to this harbor contemplate, for the present, an armament of nineteen 12-inch guns on lifts, seventeen 10-inch and nine 8 inch guns on disappearing carriages, one hundred and seventy-six 12-inch mortars, and submarine mines operated from five mining casemates. The five mining casemates are completed. Emplacements have been commenced for two 12-inch guns on lifts, six 8-inch guns, and thirty-two 12-inch
Colonel Houston reports as to the construction of three emplacements for 8-inch guns: 16,620 cubic yards of earth has been excavated and placed in embankment; the construction of a concrete-mixer has been begun, and material for concrete has been purchased.
Lieutenant-Colonel Gillespie reports: All the excavations for the foundations of the northern half of the two 12-inch gun battery and nearly all those for the southern half were finished, and about 3,500 cubic yards of concrete and rough stone had been put in place, mainly in the northern half. The foundation for the accumulator pit, 5 feet below low water, has been successfully laid, and the curb for the shot lift is nearly adjusted. This latter penetrates the sand to a depth of 22 feet below low water. It is expected that the masonry will be finished so as to enable the contractors for the ironwork to erect the mechanism of one lift early in the winter.
For the mortar battery 30,000 cubic yards of sand was excavated, completing the excavations for the gun pits, passageways, and magazines. Machinery has been set up and all other preparations made for the rapid and economical manufacture and deposit of concrete.
Lieutenant-Colonel King reports work on one of three emplacements for 8 inch guns as well under way. The excavation for the magazine and its approaches has been made, and concrete is being put in at the rate of about 75 cubic yards, soon to be increased to 100 or more cubic yards, per day.
This officer also reports that 400 cubic yards of rock and 1,600 cubic yards of earth have been removed on the site of a battery for sixteen mortars.
Washington, District of Columbia.-Officer in charge, Lieut. Col. Peter C. Hains, Corps of Engineers.
The approved project of defense contemplates emplacements for four 12 inch guns on lifts, six 10-inch and three 8-inch guns on disappearing carriages, eight 12-inch mortars, and submarine mines operated from two mining casemates. Detailed plans of emplacements for two 8-inch guns have been prepared and approved, and the emplacements are about to be commenced, and one mining casemate is under way.