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THE SECRETARY OF WAR.
Washington, D.C., November 15, 1915. To the PRESIDENT.
SIR: During the past year a very considerable portion of the mobile army stationed in the United States has been engaged in actual field service along the Mexican border. On November 23, 1914, the United States forces under command of General Funston were withdrawn from Vera Cruz and stationed at Galveston and Texas City, and at the present time 741 officers and 19,944 men are on duty on the border or adjacent thereto.
In January, 1915, upon the restoration of normal conditions in the mining districts of Colorado, the troops which had been stationed there since the spring of 1914 were withdrawn.
The service rendered by the troops along the Mexican border and in Colorado cannot be too highly commended. The character of duty in the respective places was different but the character of service was identical and was of the most difficult and trying description. Those along the border have not suffered themselves to be provoked into retaliation, but under conditions calculated to test a soldier's mettle they have shown poise and self-restraint, and with tact, patience and a high order of intelligence have overcome every obstacle confronted in the discharge of the difficult and delicate duties entrusted to them. It has required the exercise of the best qualities of character. Similar appreciation of fine service is due those who were on duty in the State of Colorado. Injected in the midst of an inflamed populace lately in open conflict, they restored and maintained order. Their poise, justness, absolute impartiality and effectiveness not only applied the proper corrective to the situation on the ground, but commended them to all, whatever the individual sympathies might be, and highly commend them to us. Such a gemonstration of the spirit which animates and controls the American Army must make every citizen proud thereof.
In the Philippines there have been no active military operations.
The general health of the Army was never better, the admission and non-effective rates for the entire Army being slightly lower than for the previous year, which was then the lowest recorded non-effective rate in the history of the Army. Immunization by vaccination against typhoid continues to be successful. There were only seven sporadic cases of typhoid during the year, and of these only two had received a complete course of vaccination. From the fact that so large a part of the Army has been encamped on the southern border, it is apparent that a high degree of proficiency has been attained in camp sanitation and hygiene-a prime essential in maintaining the effectiveness of soldiers in the field.
The desertion rate is satisfactorily low. The experiment of giving military training and educational instruction to prisoners convicted of purely military offenses with a view to fitting them for ultimate restoration to duty has continued to work satisfactorily, and a system of parole of prisoners confined in United States Disciplinary Barracks, authorized by an Act of Congress approved March 4, 1915, was put into effect May 18, 1915, under suitable regulations. There has not yet been sufficient time, of course, to show what the results of the parole system will be.
Four military camps of instruction for students of educational institutions were held during the past summer, and were equally successful with the camps of the two preceding years. There were also three camps established this year at the instance and for the benefit of business men interested in the subject of the preparedness of the country for defense and desirous of acquiring some practical knowledge of a soldier's duties and of preparing themselves to perform their duty as defenders of the country should occasion arise.
These camps were all well attended, and while the number who were able to take advantage of the opportunity thus offered was, of course, relatively small, I believe that the benefits of these camps were very far-reaching.
On the civil side of the Department's administration, one of the matters of recurring interest is the proposed new organic law for the Philippine Islands.
Although the subject of constant and most unfair misrepresentation, the measure is approved wherever it is understood. Its provisions are known to be sensible and necessary and its ultimate adoption will be welcomed in the Islands and by all who are informed and are unprejudiced. General McIntyre, the head of the Insular Bureau, has just returned from an extended trip to the Islands, and his report which is a plain recital of fact and of actual conditions will be shortly transmitted.
The bill in question passed the House of Representatives and was before the Senate Committee for consideration at the time of my last annual report. After exhaustive hearings held by this Committee, the bill was favorably reported to the Senate in February last but did not reach a vote prior to the ending of Congress on March 4th.
The bill providing for more autonomous and better balanced government in Porto Rico, referred to in my last report, was not reached for consideration by Congress at its last session.
One other matter on the civil side requires special mention, and that is the question of water-power developed in navigable waters of the United States.
The measure which was designed to permit and encourage the development of the water power of our navigable streams failed of passage in the last Congress. Until Congress shall enact such legislation this power, a great national resource inviting our use, runs on unused and wasted. The subject is one of prime importance to this nation as a whole and should receive the prompt attention of the coming Congress. The evils of the existing law must be conceded; a consideration of the General Dam Act itself reveals them, and the lack of development under it in the face of a substantial demand makes proof of them. It is believed that though these evils are now generally understood, their full effect and far reaching consequences are hardly appreciated. Without specifying here, it can in a word and in all truth be said that the existing law is a makeshift which effectually prevents all development. On the one hand it does not offer the rightful and necessary inducement for an economical and profitable development, nor on the other hand would it adequately protect the interests of the public if development were possible under it. Even were it sufficient in these regards it has been demonstrated that it would be unworkable in another: It is a general dam act in name only; while purporting to lay down general conditions to cover development in all cases, it nevertheless requires in each case the further special authorization by Congress, an inconsistency which invites a disregard of the general conditions, makes of each appli cation an independent legislative proposition, and subjects each project to the delay and hazard of congressional action.
Neither, in my judgment, is there an appreciation of the full extent and variety of the uses to which such power can be, and in other countries is being, put. The misconception is general that the greatest, if not the sole, use of such power must be found in the usual municipal utilities. But modern science has achieved a use for hydro-electric energy, which should now cause the subject to occupy a place of prime importance in our present considerations; because, at once and so happily, it can be made to contribute to meet our necessities in widely different fields-our agricultural and general indus
trial development and our national defense. I refer to the fixation of atmospheric nitrogen through the use of the electric furnace, a method of supplying that essential element which has passed the experimental stage and, through the encouragement of proper laws, has become firmly established as a practical industry in other lands. Such a use requires large quantities of cheap power, which can be found only in the use of water power. Every man knows that nitrogen is an ingredient of commercial fertilizer, but it is much less universally known that nitrogen is an indispensable element of all military explosives, and is, therefore, an essential munition of war.
Military effectiveness requires ample quantities of the element, and the proper appreciation of national security behooves us to make provision for an adequate supply in time of war. Our only present source of supply is the natural nitrate beds of Chile, which in time of war might be shut off from us. Obviously in the matter of munitions, especially where the source is so limited and localized, we should neglect no provision so easily available as this to make the country self-sustaining. Plants producing nitrogen for industrial purposes in time of peace would be a great national asset in view of their availability to supply us with the necessary nitrogen in time
The Panama Canal was informally opened to commerce on August 15, 1914. From that date to August 31, 1915, a period of twelve and one-half months, 712 vessels passed through the Canal westbound and 707 eastbound, making a total of 1,419. The cargo carried by these vessels amounted to 6,250,598 tons. The gross tonnage of vessels passing through the Canal, Panama Canal Measurement, was 7,008,419, and the net tonnage according to Canal Measurement was 4,915,456.
The gross earnings of the Canal from the date it was opened to August 31, 1915, were $5,552,064.08, and the net collections amounted to $5,405,942.99.
During the fiscal year several slides occurred in the Gaillard Cut which temporarily held up shipping, the most serious slide being that of October 14, 1914, which delayed shipping approximately five days.
Conditions, however, in September, 1915, became worse and the Canal was closed to traffic on September 18th, and at the date of writing this report is still closed. The Governor of The Panama Canal has submitted a very complete statement explaining the nature of the slides and showing that the present condition is due to a breaking down in the structural formation of the lower strata due to the weight of the upper strata, which results in the forcing out of the weaker material into the Canal prism and a gradual dropping of the overlying masses. However, the report indicates that there are no new breaks and it is anticipated that when the present movement is
conquered the permanency of the Canal will be established. At the present time, however, the Governor does not feel that he can give any approximate date on which the Canal will be open to traffic.
You have referred the general subject of these Isthmian slides to the National Academy of Sciences with a request that they make to you any recommendation they may see fit in the matter.
The expenditures by the War Department for all purposes during the fiscal year 1915 amounted to $170,705,345.83. Of this amount $9,790,706.38 was for the civil establishment, that is, maintenance of the War Department as an Executive Department, buildings and grounds in and around Washington, national and military parks, monuments, national cemeteries, support of national homes for disabled soldiers and sailors, miscellaneous public works, etc.; $45,092,760.02 for rivers and harbors, and the balance, $115,821,879.43, for military purposes, including the support of the Army, Military Academy, militia, fortifications, arsenals, military posts and miscellaneous items.
I transmit herewith the report of the Chief of Staff and the report made to him by the Chief of Coast Artillery; the reports of the heads of bureaus of the War Department; the reports of the Superintendent of the Military Academy, of the Governor of Porto Rico, of the Governor of the Panama Canal, of the Philippine Commission, and of the Commissioners of the four military parks. These reports contain full details of the activities of the War Department to which they respectively apply, and a table annexed hereto marked Appendix B, describes the principal contents of each report.
We now come to the consideration of the military policy to be recommended for adoption. It is a matter of great gratification to observe that there is a realizing sense of the necessity of the adoption of a wise and sensible policy. It was inevitable that this should be the result of the consideration of this subject. In a self-governing nation the prime necessity for proper action is to secure the concentrated attention of the people; when they are all thinking about the same thing at the same time, they reach a sound and satisfactory conclusion. This subject is now receiving such concentrated attention, and a wise result will be reached when facts are realized and reason is applied. The only firm foundation is one which rests upon fact, and the only wise guide to conduct is one which proceeds from
The necessity of a nation having force commensurate with its responsibility is demonstrated by every correct process of reasoning founded upon fact. This is so whether the subject is considered in the light of the philosophy of government or of history. The use of force is the inherent essence of government. The very term itself
23871°—Ab. 1915 - vol 1-13