« ZurückWeiter »
A regiment was concentrated there from' the Department of the South, but it has gone out on the line of the railroad against the Indians.
The CHAIRMAN. Will you state the condition of Louisiana and the troops you have there.
General McDoWELL. Louisiana is in a very disturbed condition. It was so last year and is so still, and I fear it is likely to remain so for some time to come, on account of the reasons which I have before mentioned. The military posts in Louisiana are very much changed during the year-troops being shifte 1 from one place to another, as the neces. sity for their service may appear to the department commander to require. The permanent posts are the Jackson Barracks, New Orleans, and the barracks at Baton Rouge—both Government barracks, both on Government land, and both permanent in their nature and character. From these two posts the department commander has established vari. ous small temporary posts, breaking them up from time to time and bringing the troops back again, or shifting them as the occasion may have required. I think it safe to say that the troops in Louisiana bave been of immense public good. It is so recognized, I believe, by all parties. They have been preservers of the peace, and I think that their whole course has been of the most conservative cbaracter. As I said in my annual report, " the duty devolved upon officers and men and their commander in the Department of the Gulf during the past year has been of the most delicate, important, and frequently embarrassing kind, and has been discharged with tact, fidelity, and in all cases with effect.”
The CHAIRMAN. Can you state the reasons for keeping this military force there?
General McDOWELL. The reasons grow entirely out of the sequelæ of the war, the reconstruction acts, the condition of the colored race, and the relations wbich it bears to the other inhabitants of that State, and the fact that the city of New Orleans, with its large commerce, its capital, its connections with the centers of capital and commerce in other parts of the world, has a white population principally, and that the State itself is
a largely in the hands of colored people, and that these two elements, thus far, have not been harmonious. There has been distrust on one side against the other, and misunderstandings, perhaps largely the result of causes which look away back to the past, and which will take some considerable time in the future before they are all disposed of. It is a philosophical as well as a political question, about which people may differ; but the fact stands that the problem présents very great complications, and of which I do not myself see the solution; and I doubt if any one knows, although be may think be does. I was there last winter, and I am going there now; and I can say that the military force there has been of immense consequence, not for the physical effect which that small handful of men could produce, but for its moral effect. I think this same remark may apply, in a large degree, to the troops all through the South. The number of troops all through that vast region of country is little over three thousand men, so insignificant that it cannot exercise any material physical effect.
The CHAIRMAN. The sea-coast fortifications are occupied by artillery. Can those forts be occupied by a smaller force and kept in a good state of preservation !
General McDOWELL. “ Occupation" is the proper term to give it. The fortifications are occupied," not " garrisoned." All the way down. there is a very small force at each place. The CHAIRMAN. In view of a reduction of the Army, cannot a con.
siderable number of those posts be occupied by a smaller force of artillery than at present !
General MCDOWELL. If you look you will see how very few of them are occupied by artillery now; and that occupation is not any stronger than I think it should be.
The CHAIRMAN. In time of peace, is there really any necessity that these forts should be garrisoned or occupied at all, except by a force sufticient to prevent their being injured by the elements or by intruders ?
General MCDOWELL. So far as material injury to the walls and slopes is concerned, I suppose that most of them cau be safely left in the hands of the ordnance-sergeant, because in their nature they are of a permanent character, and not likely to suffer much liarm.
The CHAIRMAN. Can those troops be withdrawn and stationed else. where?
General MCDOWELL. They bave been withdrawn in times of pressure and need, but it lias been to their great injury as artillerists.
The CHAIRMAN. Are they trained regularly in artillery practice?
General McDoWELL. Yes; there are only five batteries of light-artillery in the Army. All the other artillery of the Army are trained to the heavy guns. Now that we have large guns, the management of them requires more skill than used to be required of artillerists. These guns will be useless unless some very effective means are provided for handling them, and unless intelligent men are instructed to make use of those appliances. I do not doubt that it would be better if we could get these artillery companies more together, by breaking up some of the smaller posts.
The CHAIRMAN. Can the men who are detailed for duty in the Engi. neer and Ordnance Corps take care of those forts without the presence of artillerymen?
General McDoWELL. I do not doubt that they could. But you would gain nothing by the change. On the contrary, for the engineer and ord. nance are paid higher rates than the artillery.
Mr. ALBRIGHT. State whether, from your knowledge of the country and of the Army, there can safely be at this time a reduction of the Army !
General MCDOWELL. I should think that any material reduction would not be wise. I mean any important reduction. I do not say that you might not take off a few men or officers here anıl there. I suppose you might take all the troops from the South, but I don't know what the result would be.
Mr. ALBRIGHT. That is the question which I submit to your judg. ment-whether, in your opinion, it would be safe and judicious to reduce the Army?
General McDOWELL. I can speak more for my own command, of course, than I can for others. I think that the small force in the division (little over three thousand men) is a very small force to be kept in all the Southern States for the objects and purposes which I mentioned.
Mr. YOUNG. Do you not think we might dispose of the Department of Military Justice?
General McDOWELL. That would be a small economy. We got along before the war without a Department of Military Justice, and I suppose we could get along without it again. It has been of value, undoubtedly, in some respects.
Mr. YOUNG. Do you think it would be wise for the Government to sell the bnildings on that ground at Atlanta and remove the troops to Augusta!
General McDOWELL. Yes; the Government has to do one of two things, either to buy and pay a large price for that land at Atlanta, or sell the buildings before the lease expires.
Mr. YOUNG. You would recommend that the buildings be sold !
General McDOWELL. I certainly would. The owner of that ground inight ask two or three hundred thousand dollars, and the Government will not give that price. I think it was a great mistake not to have purchased the laud at first.
Mr. YOUNG. How many troops have you there?
General McDOWELL. There is quite a large battalion there—eight companies. I keep them as a reserve, from which I can draw to send wherever required. They can be kept at less cost there than elsewhere in the
Atlanta occupies a strategical point, from which troops can be sent to any part of the South.
Mr. YOUNG. Atlanta would be one of the best points in the South to keep troops at ?
General McDOWELL. Entirely so. I am only sorry that the Government does not own the land there. If the Secretary of War should purchase the land, I would be entirely satisfied; but I see the entire hope. lessness of asking an appropriation for that purpose.
Mr. YOUNG. You do not think that the bouses there can be removed ?
General McDOWELL. Of course they can, if we take time enough beforehand. A year before the lease expires the Government should sell these houses, to be moved off the land, or else buy the land. One of these courses sbould be taken. We pay $2,500 a year now, soon to be $5,100, for the lease of the land. The buildings have not been painted. I have had to shingle them. They are in a wretched state. It is the same way, however, all over the Military Department of the South.
Mr. Young. Do you think that there is any necessity to retain troops in the South on account of a disloyal spirit to the Government?
General McDOWELL. No, I do not think so. I think the people of the South are as little desirous of anything like opposition to the Gorernment of the United States as the people of Massachusetts. I think I would look for secessiou now as soon in Massachusetts as in any part of the South.
Mr. Young. You would advise the retaining of the Augusta arsenal by all means ?
General McDOWELL. I would advise retaining it, and turning it over to the Quartermaster's Department as a station for troops, for I would advise the keeping of the troops in the South for a while longer at least.
The CHAIRMAN. State whether or not, in your opinion, our present fortifications of masonry, which are uncompleted, should be completed, and whether large amounts should be expended in making extensive and expensive fortifications of masonry, or whether we can, in view of the fact that we can rapidly concentrate large boilies of men on important points on the coast, and rely on earth-works and heavy guns, dispense with these elaborate fortifications.
General McDoWELL. I do not think that any nation will ever be ignorant or rash enough to send an army to invade the United States. I do not think there is any need to make provision by fortifications for any such contingency, so long as we remain true to ourselves and united as a nation. Undoubtedly, when our system of fortifications was planned, different views were reasonable and necessary, and different measures had to be provided for then than would be necessary now. The improvements in artillery have also sensibly changed the whole system of fortification. Fort Sumter was built when there was no gun wbich could reach it from the maiuland. It was not considered possible to make a breach in Fort Pulaski at the distance from which one was actually made in the course of the last war. It was expected that troops might be lauded and be able to establish themselves for such a length of time as to enable them to reduce the work by regular approaches from the land side, and provision had to be made for that.
All these considerations and others, which do not at this moment occur to me, have caused a very radical change to be made in the whole character of our sea coast fortifications, and I beliere that such a change is fully recognized, fully appreciated, and will be fully met by the officers of the Engineer Corps. I think that, most likely, the principle that masonry should be protected from the fire of artillery at a distance, will come to be applied to sea-coast fortification, as it has been to those intended to resist the approaches of troops and artillery by land. This will, of course, to a large extent, answer your question, because the fortifications of masonry which may hereafter be built will most likely be protected by glacis of earth or sand throw up in front of them. Another reason for a change will be in the long range of artillery, which renders it unnecessary to occupy only a very restricted site to command the narrowest part of the channel.
The CHAIRMAN. In view of this condition of affairs, what works of defense do you think it advisable for us to construct?
General McDoWELL. I think that wherever we have a harbor which an enemny would be apt to make use of, either for the purpose of de stroying our commerce or of breaking up a naval establishment, it would be desirable that some permanent works, of such a kind as the conditions which 1 before mentioned have made necessary, should be erected, for the reason that these works free our force afloat to be used against the enemy offensively, and that earth-works and heavy guns are a cheaper defeuse than anything which can be put afloat, and cost less to keep them up after they are once made.
The CHAIRMAN. In view of the fact, then, that an enemy cau float large guns and attack our great sea-coast cities and naval and commercial depots, would you or not construct expensive fortifications at points of this kind ?
General McDOWELL. I would; and I think that such is, and has been, the policy of the Engineer Department.
The CHAIRMAN. What would you say as to Fort Foote, on the Potomac?
General McDOWELL. I do not see the great value of Fort Foote, escept that it and Fort Washington seem to have reference to the defense of the capital of the country. That fact may have a bearing which it would be well to take into account; also the fact that there is a naval establishment here.
The CHAIRMAN. What would you say about Fort Moultrie ?
General McDOWELL. It and a work at Moultrie would protect Charleston, and Charleston is an important commercial point.
The CHAIRMAN. What about Fort Jackson, on the Mississippi ?
General McDoWELL. I think there shonld be some fortification at the mouth of the Mississippi. A large part of our export commerce goes out there.
The CHAIRMAN. What about Portsmouth Harbor, New Hampshire!
General MCDOWELL. There is a large naval establishment to be protected at that place.
The CHAIRMAN. What about San Diego, Cal. ?
General McDOWELL. San Diego is of no sort of consequence nou. Whether it may be hereafter I cannot say. It is a most beautiful harbor, with a very small, poor back country. If a railroad should come to it, and if the place should grow to be of importance, I should say that it would be well to have a fortification at San Diego.
The CHAIRMAN. What can you tell us about the new system of torpedoes ?
General McDOWELL. I take a greal deal of interest in it, though it was never under my command or control. I think that our officers in charge of the subject at Willet's Point are fully up to the advanced state of knowledge on that subject.
The CHAIRMAN. Are the improvements in torpedoes of such a character as that they are likely to afford an important branch of harbordefense
General McDOWELL. A very important branch.
The CHAIRMAN. Have you bad the Department of the Lakes under your command ?
General McDOWELL. No; but my Department (the Department of the East) extended from Buffalo around by Lake Ontario and Lake Champlain.
The CHAIRMAN. What has been the military necessity and importance of baving troops stationed along that border?
General McDOWELL. It bas been made necessary by reason of our relations with England, and by the disturbed condition of Ireland, which affected people of Irish descent in this country, who tried to involve us in difficulties with England by making inroads into Canada. When I had command of the Department of the East we had great need of these posts on that northern frontier. They are necessary with regard to keeping our good faith with Great Britain on that frontier. England keeps no force wbatever in Canada; no imperial troops, not even at Quebec. There are, I believe, some Canadian troops. There are no British troops in North America except at Halifax, which the English are fortifying and making very strong as an imperial naval station for the North Atlantic coast.
The CHAIRMAN. Please to give the committee your opinion on the es. tablishment of a military prison and military punishment.
General McDOWELL. There is a law now providing for one military prison at Rock Island, Ill. I have the impression that that measure was the result of some steps wbich I took when commanding the Department of the East, for the improvement of the discipline and treatment of soldiers under sentence of court-inartial. I had been to Canada and had seen the military-prison system of the English. I found it several centuries in advance of our own. I was so much struck by it that I asked the Secretary of War to send a party of officers on there to look at it, so that persons of different temperament and disposition might give their opinions concerning its value and the possibility of adopting some of its features for our own country. That was done, and the report was sent by the Secretary of War to Congress, and I think the result of that is the military prison at Rock Island. As I take a great interest in that question, I wish to state to the committee that a military-prison system, such as is provided for in that bill, would simply be a useless expense to the Government, and is what I should regret excessively to see carried out.
The CHAIRMAN. Please to state your reasons.