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June 27. Upon detailed plans for casemates and cable-galleries at Alcatraz Island and Point San José, California.
June 27. Upon plans for a torpedo and torpedo-boat submitted by Mr. John Bowles to the Board of Ordnance and Fortitication.
June 27. Upon letter from the Secretary of the Interior to the Secretary of War of June 13, 1889, relative to Point Roberts Military Reservation for defensive purposes.
June 27. Upon the communication of June 10, 1889, from Lieut. H. D. Borup, Ordnance Department, Military Attaché at Paris, France, relative to obtaining information respecting torpedoes.
In the performance of the duties of the Board the following personal examinations were made:
1889, May 23. Visited Sandy Hook, New Jersey, to examine sites for location of batteries.
June 14. Visited Fort Wadsworth, N. Y., to examine sites for location of batteries.
In addition, Colonel Abbot, as a committee of the Board, visited Burlington, Vt., October 5, 1888, and inspected the breakwater at that point.
In addition to their duties with The Board of Engineers, the individual members have been otherwise engaged as follows:
1 Col. Henry L. Abbot, the president of the Board, has continued in charge of certain experiments with torpedoes; was charged, April 1, 1888, with closing the office and accounts and transferring the works lately in charge of Col. Q. A. Gillmore, Corps of Engineers, deceased ; was continued a member of the Board of Visitors to Engineer School of Application until January 30, 1889; was detailed as a member of the Board of Ordnance and Fortification on October 25, 1888; served as president of a board for examination of officers of the Corps of Engineers with a view to promotion; was detailed as president of the board to fix the harbor lines of the harbor of New York and adjacent waters on October 5, 1888; was detailed as president of board to fix the harbor lines for the port of Boston on August 13, 1888; was assigned division engineer, Northeast Division, on December 3, 1888; served as presi. dent of board to report on plan and location of bridge across Mississippi River at Dubuque, Iowa; bas served as president of board to examine and report upon plans for the further improvement of the harbors of St. Augustine and Key West, Fla.; has served as a member of board to report on the purchase of the Kinsley estate near West Point, N. Y.; was detailed to deliver a course of lectures on coast defense at the Naval War College during the term beginning in August, 1888; and is charged with the duty of preparing working drawings and estimates for gun lifts after the design proposed by General J. C. Duane.
2. Col. C. B. Comstock has served as division engineer of the Southwest Division since December 3, 1888; as member of the Board of Visitors to the Engineer School of Application; as president of the Mississippi River Commission; as member of the board to fix harbor lines of New York and adjacent waters; as senior member of board on improvement of Winyalı Bay, South Carolina; as member of board to fix harbor lines of Philadelphia; as president of board to report on proposed bridge at Louisville, Ky; as member of two boards for examination of officers for promotion ; as member of general court-martial convened at Washington under Special Orders No. 51, A. G. O.. 1889.
3. Col. D. C. IIouston has been the disbursing officer of The Board of Engineers. He has conducted the various works of river and harbor improvement and of fortifications uuder his charge, and has served as
a member of Board of Visitors to Engineer School of Application; as member of board to fix the barbor lines for the harbor of New York and adjacent waters, and as member of board to consider and report upon the improvement of Winyah Bay, South Carolina.
4. Lient. Col. George L. Gillespie, in addition to conducting the various works of river and harbor improvement and of fortifications with which he was charged during the year, has served as a member of the Board of Visitors to the Engineer School of Application ; of the boards on harbor lines of the port of Boston and of New York Harbor and adjacent waters; of the board to examine and report upon revised project for improvement of Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, and upon project for improving Cumberland Sound and Savannah River below Sa. vannah, Ga.; of the board to carry out the provisions of the act of Con. gress approved March 2, 1889, in the matter of surveys for deep-water harbor, Gulf of Mexico; of board for the examination of officers of the Corps of Engineers with view to their promotion; and as member of general court-martial, Washington, D. C., March 25, 1889.
The necessity for immediately beginning the work of reconstructing our sea-coast defenses has been so fully demonstrated heretofore in the annual reports of the Chief of Engineers that no repetition of the arguments is called for here. The only valid reason for delay has been the lack of guns and the impossibility of fabricating in this country the types demanded by modern progress. Thanks to the recent action of Congress in granting liberal appropriations to prepare the needful factory and to enable our steel manufacturers to procure the needful plant, this inability no longer exists.
By existing contracts the new gun factory buildings at Watervliet Arsenal, capable of turning out 12-inch and smaller guns, will be completed by December, 1889, and by December, 1890, plant capable of fabricating annually ten 8-inch, six 10-inch, and four 12-inch guns will be in place. The development of steel industries of the country in the line of heavy ordnance construction has made satisfactory progress, and contracts are now let for supplying the steel for fabricating twenty. four 8-inch, twenty-four 10-inch, and fifteen 12-inch guns, that required for forty-four guns, including all three calibers, to be delivered by August, 1892.
Evidently emplacements should be ready to receive this armament as soon as compieted. No funds have been appropriated for this purpose, and even if granted at the coming session of Congress they will probably not become available before July 1, 1890. At the estimated rate of fabrication at Watervliet Arsenal, ten 8-inch guns will be well advanced toward completion by May, 1891, and three 10-inch guns by May, 1892, while by January, 1893, twenty-four 8-inch, seven 10-inch, and four 12-inch guns should be ready for service.
The Corps of Engineers will thus have only nine months to prepare ernplacements for ten 8 inch guns, twenty-one months for three 10-inch guns, and thirty months for twenty-four 8-inch, seven 10 inch, and four 12-inch guns. Fully this time will be required, and no further argument can be needed to prove that the requisite funds should be granted at the next session of Congress.
The necessity for immediate action is hardly less in the case of mortars. Contracts for the material and for finishing and assembling thirty cast-iron steel-hooped rifled 12-inch mortars are now let, the whole to be delivered by August, 1892, and they will thus be on hand for mounting by the time the batteries are ready to receive their arma. ment,
It is apparent that experiments should be made to test the eflicacy of the new batteries and new modes of mounting projected for classes of guns so novel to our service. Such trial batteries can be placed on sites already selected for the permanent defense of New York Harbor, and they will thus become at once available for use in war. It is therefore recommended that the first funds granted be applied to constructing one two-gun lift battery and one sixteen-mortar battery. The estimated cost of the former is $310,000, and of the latter (including local flanking arrangements) $200,000.
WHARF AT FORT MONROE, VIRGINIA.
The construction of this wharf was provided for by the act making
$9, 670, 31 Amount appropriated by act of August 10, 1888..
July 1, 1889, amount expended during fiscal year, exclusive
of liabilities outstanding July 1, 1888.
(See Appendix 2 A.)
IRON PILE BRIDGE OVER MILL CREEK AT FORT MONROE, VIRGINIA.
By the act making appropriations for the sundry civil expenses of
$20,000.00 July 1, 1889, balance available..
20,000.00 (See Appendix 2 B.)
POST OF WILLETS POINT, NEW YORK.-ENGINEER SCHOOL OF AP
PLICATION.-BATTALION OF ENGINEERS.-ENGINEER DEPOT.
Officer in command, Lieut. Col. W. R. King, Corps of Engineers.
POST OF WILLETS POINT, NEW YORK. At the close of the fiscal year the garrison consisted of 26 commis. sioned officers and 393 enlisted men,
The improvements made during the year have been only such as could be made with very small allotments of funds available, supplemented by the labor of the garrison.
Brick sidewalks have been laid, wagon roads repaired and graded, a suitable gateway erected at the entrance to the post. The old hospital has been converted into a suitable building for headquarters, and the old headquarters building into four sets of quarters for unmarried officers. The fence around the post cemetery has been completed. The laboratory for enlisted men has been rebuilt. A post canteen and a combined mess for enlisted men has been established, and the target range has been improved and extended.
The improvements recommended are new barracks and mess build. ing for enlisted men; (in this connection attention is earnestly invited to the necessity for new barracks as a sanitary measure, as set forth in the report of Lieut. Col. W. R. King, Corps of Engineers, commanding the post-see Appendix 3;) a suitable building for quartermaster's and commissary stores, including.coal bins, etc., and the lighting of the barracks and grounds by electricity; the cleaning out of the ditch or lagoon bordering the post, and the walling in of the ice pond so as to prevent surface water from washing impurities into it.
As this post is one of the largest on the coast it should be made worthy of the place it occupies at the entrance to our greatest sea-port.
SCHOOL OF APPLICATION.
During the year five engineer officers and two artillery officers completed the course, and eight artillery and infantry officers, who have completed the laboratory duty, are still engaged in the practice work of planting and operating torpedoes, which it is expected will be completed on the 1st of October, 1889.
The plan of detailing infantry as well as artillery officers works well, and it is recommended that it be continued, and that the course be ex. tended to the 1st of October, instead of terminating on the 1st of July, as heretofore, thus giving ten months to the course instead of seven.
Every effort has been made to introduce practical methods of instruc tion wherever it can be done, and it is believed that officers of industrious babits and fair intelligence can acquire a useful knowledge of the uses of electricity and high explosives, and their application to the torpedo service, even if they have not had the benefit of a thorough scientific education.
BATTALION OF THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS.
The legal strength of the Battalion of the Corps of Engineers is five companies of 150 men each, with a sergeant-major and quartermastersergeant, and it is officered by details from the commissioned officers of the Corps.
The present strength is 17 officers and 404 enlisted men.
The authorized strength of Companies A, B, and C, which are stationed at Willets Point, is 133 men each, and of Company E, stationed at West Point, 100 men, an increase of 50 men having been authorized June 13, 1889.
The total losses from all causes during the year have been 122, and the total gains 138, making a net increase of 16 men.
The battalion has been employed during the year at engineer, ponton, and torpedo drill, infantiy drill, ritle practice, pibotography, and Company E, at West Point, has assisted in the instruction of cadets in military engineering and ponton drill.
A detachment of 3 officers and 68 enlisted men from this post and 1 officer and 30 men from West Point was ordered to Johnstown, Pa., on the 5th of June for the purpose of building ponton and trestle bridges to replace, temporarily, those swept away by the great flood which bad devastated that region. A portion of the detachment was relieved on the 17th of June, but the balance was still on that duty at the close of the fiscal year.
The soldiers' laboratory, for which an appropriation of $6,500 had been made, was completed, furnished with benches, tool-boxes, etc., and occupied, as was also an addition to this building for engines and boilers and dynamos employed in connection with the fish torpedo and search lights. The steamer Bushnell was hauled out on the ways and is undergoing thorough repairs and changes necessary to adapt ber to the needs of the torpedo service. The officers' laboratory has been repainted and other minor repairs to buildings and property have been made.
The new building for engineer models, etc., for which an appropriation of $8,000 was made at the last session of Congress, will soon be under way. Instruments have been received (by purchase and transfer), repaired, and issued as the necessities of the service and the funds available would admit.
As there was no appropriation available for torpedo experiments until November last, but little work in that line could be accomplished. Some few experiments were made, however, with explosives, building materials, and with a new motor in Sims' fish torpedo, an account of which will be found in the report of the officer in charge. A board of officers to witness and report on the test of the Patrick auto-mobile controllable torpedo was appointed in June, 1888, and the test took place before the board in July. The report appears as Appendix 4.
The conclusion of the Board is that this torpedo is worthy of consideration and trial when funds become available.
STATEMENT OF FUNDS.
Congress appropriated for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1889, for engineer depot at Willets Point, N. Y
$18,000.00 Of this there has been expended and pledged..
17,989.95 Congress appropriated (act of September 22, 1888) for torpedoes for harbor defense....
200,000.00 And of this there has been assigned to the commanding officer at Willets Point....
98,000.00 Of this there has been expended and pledged.
67,949.93 Appropriated for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1890, for engineer depot at Willets Point, N. Y
19,000.00 Congress appropriated under the general title “Torpedoes for Harbor De
fense" for purchase of submarine mines and the necessary appliances, by act of March 2, 1889, the sum of..
250,000.00 For continuing torpedo experiments..
30,000.00 For mining casemate at Willets Point, N. Y., “Allotment"
There will be required for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1891– For incidental expenses of depot.....
$5,000.00 For purchase of materials for instruction.
1,500.00 For purchase and repair of instruments..
2,500.00 For purchase and binding of professional works for the library
500.00 Total .....
9,500.00 (See Appendix 3.)