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Chapter XXVII

  • President of the New board of Ordnance and Fortification
  • -- usefulness of the board -- troubles with the Sioux Indians in 1890-91 -- success of the plan to employ Indians as soldiers -- marriage to Miss Kilbourne -- the difficulty with Chile in 1892.

even as late as the year 1882, very high military authority in this country advocated with great earnestness the proposition that our old brick and stone forts, with their smooth-bore guns, could make a successful defense against a modern iron-clad fleet! At the same time, and even much later, high naval authority maintained that the United States navy should be relied upon for the defense of our many thousands of miles of sea-coast! In view of such counsel, it does not seem strange that Congress, after the old ships had nearly all rotted away, began to give some attention to a new navy, but thought little or nothing of land defenses. The old brick and stone parapets and the cast-iron guns were still there; none of them had become rotten, though the wooden carriages had gone to decay, and the guns were lying on the ground! Yet, after a long dream of security, the Great National Council announced the decision that something ought probably to be done for sea-coast defense. Provision was made by law for a very high board, with the Secretary of War presiding, to report to Congress what was required—a thing which, if Congress had only known it, the Engineer Bureau of the War Department could have reported just

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