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[EXTRACT FROM THE ANNUAL REPORT OF THE SECRETARY OF WAR.]
WAR DEPARTMENT, November, 1874.
Under the Chief of Engineers the works for the defense of the coast have been prosecuted with vigor and as rapidly as the appropriations in hand would permit, and in several of our important harbors some of the larger works are approaching completion. Generally, the works are modifications of existing defenses, constructed for less powerful armaments than those now used. The rapid advances that have been made in power of modern ordnance, render it essential that these works should be pushed forward to completion and properly armed.
The Battalion of Engineers, in its construction, drill, and efficiency for service, has been kept to the high standard requisite for this arm of service. Stationed at Willet's Point and West Point, they have principally been employed in the trials and developments of our torpedo system, and in the instruction of cadets, while small detachments have assisted the officers engaged in western explorations. The appropriations asked for its service are recommended to Congress.
The trials with torpedoes, which for some years past have been going on at Willet's Point, have developed a system inferior, it is believed, to none in use abroad, which will furnish us at small cost with a means of barring our harbors against the inroads of iron-clad vessels, furnishing us with one form of obstruction for holding them under the fire of our guns. The importance of this class of defenses is so obvious that the necessity for making the appropriations asked for the collection of such materials as cannot be obtained speedily need not be urged upon Congress.
Satisfactory progress has been made upon the works for the improvement of rivers and harbors, and the surveys and examinations connected therewith, in accordance with the provisions of the river and harbor appropriation act approved March 3, 1873.
The report upon the practicability of bridging, consistently with the interests of navigation, the channel between Lake Huron and Lake Erie, required by the third section of this act, was submitted during the last session of Congress, and printed, forming Executive Document No. 64, House of Representatives, Forty-third Congress, first session.
The provisions of the second and third sections of the act approved May 11, 1874, "providing for the payment of the bonds of the Louisville and Portland Canal Company," so far as relates to the transfer of all the property of said company to the United States, have been complied with. This transfer of the canal was made on the 10th day of June, 1874, from which date the reduction of tolls took effect. The requirements of the act regarding the rate of tolls for the year 1875 will be complied with as soon after the close of the present calendar year as practicable, when a special report will be submitted setting forth