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[485] as well in far less time. But at length a very able report was submitted, which inspired the confidence of Congress.

In the meantime there had arisen a condition which can best be expressed as ‘want of confidence’ in the chief of the Ordnance Department of the army on the part of committees of Congress. From this it resulted that no appropriations were made for several years for any new armament, and hence none for fortifications. Thus by a trifle were the wheels of a great government blocked for a long time! Yet that government still survives! Finally, in the year 1888 an act was passed creating a Board of Ordnance and Fortification, of which the commanding general of the army should be president, and appropriating quite a large sum of money to be expended, under the direct supervision of that board, to commence the work of fortification and armament of the sea-coast. After very careful examination and full consideration and discussion, the board adopted the plans prepared by the Bureaus of Engineering and Ordnance, and the work was begun and carried forward substantially the same as if the expenditure of the appropriation had been intrusted to the two bureaus concerned and the Secretary of War.

The board did perform, and still continues to perform, a very important and essential duty, and one which cannot be satisfactorily intrusted to any one man, namely, that of deciding the delicate and difficult questions constantly arising in respect to the practical utility and economy of new inventions having reference to works of defense or of attack. But these questions had no immediate bearing whatever upon the all-important problem of the day—to place the sea-coasts of the United States in a satisfactory state of defense according to the best scientific methods then known to the world. And that problem had already been solved, in all respects save one, namely, how to get out of Congress the necessary money to do the work!

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