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process of execution. Detailed information in regard to each specific river and harbor improvement may be found in the report of the Chief of Engineers.
The survey of the Mississippi River, recently commenced by the Engineer Department, has been carried from Mound City, above Memphis, to Scanlon's Landing, Arkansas, and a line of precise levels has been completed from Memphis, Tennessee, to Austin, Mississippi. Detailed charts Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7, of the river have been completed.
The systematic survey of the territory west of the one-hundredth meridian, which has been for several years prosecuted under the direction of the Chief of Engineers, by the officers of the Corps of Engineers and other officers of the Army, has been carried on during the last fiscal year in California, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. The area surveyed and mapped since its commencement has aggregated more than 300,000 square miles.
The topographical maps, which are the most important and useful result of this survey, are regularly published and become at once available for the uses of the War Department and the other branches of the government service, for the settlers of our public lands, and for incorporation into school atlases and other maps for popular use published by private enterprise. Its organization is complete and in excellent condition for carrying on its work rapidly and economically, and it is hoped that the full amount of appropriation asked for by the Chief of Engineers for the next fiscal year will be granted by Congress.
There is on the staff of each of the general officers in command of the Military Divisions of the Pacific and Missouri, the Departments of the Platte, the Missouri, the Columbia, Texas, Dakota, and Arizona, and the District of New Mexico, an engineer officer or acting engineer officer (ordinarily of the rank of captain or lieutenant), but these officers can be of but little utility in the line of their profession unless they can each be supplied with a small amount of funds to be used in the purchase and repair of instruments and for assistance in their field-work. No little embarrassment has been caused during the current year by the failure of the appropriation for surveys by these officers. They collect geographical and other information in their own reconnaissances and those of line officers on scouts and campaigns, and have at very little expense produced reports and maps of the highest utility, not only to the commanding generals, but to the public at large. This work is now almost entirely stopped by the failure of the appropriation and the consequent discharge of draughtsmen and other persons employed. Unless further appropriation is made a large mass of valuable material in form of notes and sketches, now ready to be incorporated into reports and maps, must remain in its present useless form. It is earnestly hoped that the estimate for this work will receive favorable attention from Congress.
A consideration of actual methods and expenses of all surveys of a
scientific character under the War and Interior Departments and the surveys of the Land Office, was referred at the last session of Congress (in the act providing for the sundry civil expenses of the government, approved June 20, 1878) to the National Academy of Sciences, with directions to report to Congress a plan for surveying and mapping the Territories of the United States on such general system as will secure the best results at the least possible cost. Subsequently, and at the request of the acting president of the National Academy of Sciences, I furnished to the academy a statement of the plans and wishes of the War Department in respect to these surveys, which was prepared by my direction by the Chief of Engineers, and will be found in the report of that officer.*
The Mississippi River.
It is greatly to be hoped that the attention of Congress will con. tinue to be given to the problem how best to improve the navigation of the Mississippi River. The importance of the subject can scarcely be overestimated, and the large expenditures now being made in the improvement of the mouth of the river gives it added prominence.
Improvement of South Pass of the Mississippi River.
During the fiscal year the work of completing the jetties and auxiliary structures at South Pass and vicinity has been actively pursued by Mr. James B. Eads and associates, under the sanction of the acts of Congress approved March 3, 1875, and June 19, 1878.
An engineer officer has been on duty at Port Eads during the year, and his reports, called the seventh, eighth, and ninth "Reports upon the Improvement of South Pass," &c., have been forwarded to Congress for its information, and a limited number of each of these reports have been printed. From the tenth report, which is also an annual report for the year ending June 30, 1878, the following data are ascertained:
July 28, 1877, there was an available depth over the bar (at the seaends of the jetties) of 20.3 feet, and the least width of the 20-foot channel was 150 feet.
July 2 and 15, 1878, there was a practical channel of 21.9 feet and 22.3 feet, respectively, and the least width of the 21.9-foot channel in the first case and the 22-foot channel in the second case was 150 feet.
July 28, 1877, the distance between 22 feet in depth inside the shoalest cross-section and the same depth outside was 150 feet. July 15, 1878, the distance between the corresponding 24-foot curves was 150 feet. These depths and widths are with reference to the ascertained “average flood tide."
At the head of South Pass, near the beginning of the past fiscal year, there was a practicable channel 23 feet deep in its shoalest part. Just after the close of the same year a survey showed the existence of a prac
*Appendix N N 3.
ticable channel 21.7 feet deep, and the fluctuations in depth during the year have been between depths of 21 feet and 23 feet. The widths corresponding to these depths have been ample for the present needs of
The "average flood tide," which is the plane of reference for depths at the head of the passes, is that of a low stage of the river. At highwater stages the actual depths are from 1 to 2 feet greater than the nominal ones given on the charts and in reports.
In January, 1878, a commission, appointed by the Secretary of War, composed of Col. J. G. Barnard and Lieut. Col. H. G. Wright, Corps of Engineers, visited Port Eads, for the purpose of ascertaining how faithfully Mr. Eads had conformed with the strict provisions of the act of Congress approved March 3, 1875, relating to the stability and general permanence of the works constructed by him to improve the navigation of South Pass. The inspecting officer had certified that on the 15th of December, 1877, "a channel 22 feet throughout a width of more than 200 feet, at its narrowest point, was obtained, from deeper water in South Pass, near the Head of Passes, through the jettied prolongation of South Pass to deeper water in the Gulf of Mexico." It remained to be assured that the terms of the law had been faithfully complied with in other respects. The report of the commission, which has been laid before Congress, showed that the 22-foot channel was 200 feet wide, according to a survey made January 2, 1878, and that the law had been so far complied with as to authorize the payment of the second sum of $500,000 due from the United States to Mr. Eads on the satisfactory proofs that a channel 22 feet deep and 200 feet wide everywhere had been obtained between the South Pass of the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. I therefore transferred to Mr. Eads my warrant on the Secretary of the Treasury for $500,000, as directed by the act of Congress of March 3, 1875,
The act of Congress approved June 19, 1878, provided as follows:
SEC. 2. The Secretary of War is hereby authorized and directed to draw his warrant upon the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States in favor of James B. Eads, his assigns or legal representatives, for the sum of five hundred thousand dollars, so soon as the said Eads, his lawful assigns or legal representatives, shall file with the said Secretary of War a relinquishment of all claim to the payment of five hundred thousand dollars provided by the hereinbefore recited act to be paid when a channel twenty-four feet in depth and not less than two hundred and fifty feet in width shall have been obtained. And the Secretary of the Treasury is hereby authorized and directed to pay to said Eads, his lawful assigns or legal representatives, the sum for which said warrant is drawn.
SEC. 3. The Secretary of War is further hereby authorized and directed, upon his approval of the engineer's statement in this section mentioned, to draw his warrant upon the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States in favor of said James B. Eads, his lawful assigns or legal representatives, monthly, for such sums, not exceeding in the aggregate the gross sum of five hundred thousand dollars, as he or they may require in the prosecution of the works authorized by said hereinbefore recited act, to pay for materials furnished, labor done, and expenditures incurred, from and after
the passage of this act, in the construction of said works: Provided, That said Eads or his legal representatives shall file in the office of the Secretary of War, with each requisition made by him or them, a certified statement, which shall be made by the engineer officer provided for in said act, that the requisition is for the amount of work properly done, materials furnished, and expenditures incurred in the prosecution of the work: And provided, That said Eads, his lawful assigns or legal representatives, shall file with the Secretary of War a relinquishment of all claim to the deferred payment of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars provided by the hereinbefore recited act to be paid when a channel twenty-four feet in depth and not less than two hundred and fifty feet in width shall have been maintained for twelve months consecutively : And provided further, That said Eads, his lawful assigns or legal representatives, shall from time to time, as monthly installments of the remaining two hundred and fifty thousand dollars are paid, file with the Secretary of War a relinquishment of like amounts, to be deducted from the payment of five hundred thousand dollars provided by the herein before recited act to be paid when a channel twenty-six feet in depth and not less than three hundred feet in width shall have been obtained. And the Secretary of the Treasury is hereby authorized and directed to pay to said Eads, his lawful assigns or legal representatives, the sums for which said warrants are drawn. All other payments to said James B. Eads, his lawful assigns or legal representatives, are to be made under and in pursuance of the provisions of the herein before recited act; the whole of said act, except as the same is hereby expressly modified or amended, to have the same force and effect as if this act had not been passed.
In accordance with section two of the act, the requi red relinquishment was filed by Mr. Eads, and the third payment, amounting to $500,000, was made.
Certain technical questions arose as to the construction of section three, above quoted, and as to the rights of parties in the matter of relinquishment. These questions were referred to the Attorney-General and were adjusted pursuant to advices contained in his opinions. The engineer's statements, Mr. Eads's requisitions, and the required relinquishment of $250,000 having been received, approved, and filed, three several payments have been made under said section, amounting in the aggregate to $85,386.24, for the months of June, July, and August, 1878.
The epidemic of yellow fever reached Port. Eads about July 26, and, although its ravages did not begin during the last fiscal year, it is well to state that the fever became so severe about August 6, that it was thought necessary to suspend active operations at the jetties until the fever had disappeared. The earlier portion of the low-water season, during which the work of construction is most easily and economically conducted, has therefore been lost by Mr. Eads; and as it became necessary to allow those of the United States Engineer party under the inspecting officer who were not thoroughly acclimated to leave the vicinity, the regularity of detailed reports has been necessarily interrupted.