Chapter 6: military Polity—The means of national defence best suited to the character and condition of a country, with a brief account of those adopted by the several European powers.
.--In deciding upon a resort to arms, statesmen are guided by certain general rules
which have been tacitly adopted in the intercourse of nations : so also both statesmen and generals are bound by rules similarly adopted for the conduct of hostile forces while actually engaged in military operations.
differences between nations, each state has a right to decide, for itself upon the nature of its means of redress for injuries received.
Previous to declaring open and public war, it may resort to some other forcible means of redress, short of actual war. These are:--
Laying an embargo upon the property of the offending nation.
Taking forcible possession of the territory or property in dispute.
Resorting to some direct measure of retaliation.
Making reprisals upon the persons and things of the offering nation.
It is not the present purpose to discuss these several means of redress, nor even to enter into any examination of the rights and laws of public war, when actually declared; it is intended to consider here merely such military combinations as are resorted to by the state in preparation for defence, or in carrying on the actual operations of a war.
In commencing hostilities against any other power, we must evidently take into consideration all the political and
physical circumstances of the people with whom we are to contend we must regard their general character for courage and love of country; their attachment to their government and political institutions; the character of their rulers and their generals; the numbers, organization, and discipline of their armies; and particularly the relations between the civil and military authorities in the state, for if the latter be made entirely subordinate, we may very safely calculate on erroneous combinations.
We must also regard their passive means of resistance, such as their system of fortifications, their military materials and munitions, their statistics of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures, and especially the geographical position and physical features of their country.
No government can neglect, with impunity, these considerations in its preparations for war, or in its manner of conducting military operations.
's system of carrying on war against the weak, effeminate, and disorganized Italians required many modifications when directed against the great military power of Russia
Moreover, the combinations of Eylau
were inapplicable to the contest with the maddened guerrillas of Minos
, animated by the combined passions of hatred, patriotism, and religious enthusiasm.
Military power may be regarded either as absolute or relative: the absolute force of a state depending on the number of its inhabitants and the extent of its revenues; the relative force, on its geographical and political position, the character of its people, and the nature of its government.
Its military preparations should evidently be in proportion to its resources.
Wealth constitutes both the apprehension and the incentive to invasion.
Where two or more states have equal means of war, with incentives very unequal, an equilibrium cannot exist; for danger and temptation are no longer opposed to each other.
The preparation of states may, therefore, be equal without being equivalent, and the smaller of the two may be most liable to be drawn into a war without the means of sustaining it.
The numerical relation between the entire population of a state, and the armed forces which it can maintain, must evidently vary with the wealth and pursuits of the people.
thinks that a country purely agricultural may, at certain seasons, furnish for war one-fifth, or even in case of necessity one-fourth, of its entire population.
A. commercial or manufacturing country would be unable to furnish any thing like so numerous a military force.
On this account small agricultural states are sometimes able to bring into the field much larger armies than their more powerful neighbors.
During the Seven Years War, Frederick
supported an army equal to one-twentieth of the entire Prussian population, and at the close of this memorable contest one-sixth of the males capable of bearing arms had actually perished on the field of battle.
But the number of troops that may be brought into the field in times of great emergency is, of course, much greater than can be supported during a long war, or as a, part of a permanent military establishment.
estimates that modern nations are capable of supporting, without endangering their power, a permanent military force of about one-hundredth part of their population.
This ratio differs but little from that of the present mill.
tary establishments of the great European
, with a population of about twenty-five millions, and a general budget of $250,000,000, supports a military and naval force of about 150,000 effective and 100,000 non-effective men, 250,000 in all, at an annual expense of from seventy to eighty millions of dollars.
, with a population of about seventy millions, supports an active army
of 632,000 men, with an immense
reserve, at an expense of about $65,000,000, out of a general budget of $90,000,000; that is, the expense of her military establishment is to her whole budget as 7 to 10.
, with a population of thirty-five millions, has an organized peace establishment of 370,000, (about 250,000 in active service,) and a reserve of 260,000, at an expense of $36,000,000, out of a general budget of $100,000,000.
, with a population of about fifteen millions, has from 100,000 to 1.20,000 men in arms, with a reserve of 200,000, at an annual expense of more than $18,000,000, out of a general budget of about $38,000,000.
, with a population of near thirty-five millions, supports a permanent establishment of about 350,000 men, at an expense of seventy or eighty millions of dollars, out of a total budget of $280,000,000. France
has long supported a permanent military force of from one-hundredth to one hundred-and-tenth of her population, at an expense of from one-fourth to one-fifth of her whole budget.
The following table, copied from the “Spectateur Militaire,” shows the state of the army at six different periods between 1788 and 1842.
It omits, of course, the extraordinary levies of the wars of the Revolution and of the Empire
|Dates. ||Population. ||Budget.||Army.||Remarks.|
|Of State.||Of the Army.||Peace Estab.||War Estab.|
| || ||Livres.||Livres.||Men.||Men.|| |
| || ||Francs.||Francs.|| || || |
|1814||28,000,000||800,000,000||180,000,000||255,000||340,000||Ordinance of 1814.|
|1823||31,000,000||900,000,000||200,000,000||280,000||390,000||Minister of War.|
|1830||32,000,000||1,000,000,000||220,000,000||312,000||500,000||Report of Minister of War.|
|1840||34,000,000||1,170,000,000||242,000,000||312,000||-||Budget of 1840.|
|1842||35,000,000||1,200,000,000||285,000,000||370,000||520,000||Estimated Expenses of 1842.|
From these data we see that the great European
powers at the present day maintain, in time of peace, military establishments equal to about one-hundredth part of their entire population.
The geographical position of a, country also greatly influences the degree and character of its military preparation.
It may be bordered on one or more sides by mountains and other obstacles calculated to diminish the probability of invasion; or the whole frontier may be wide open to an attack: the interior may be of such a nature as to furnish security to its own army, and yet be fatal to the enemy should he occupy it; or it may furnish him advantages far superior to his own country.
It may be an island in the sea, and consequently exposed only to maritime descents — events of rare occurrence in modern times.
Again, a nation may be placed between others who are interested in its security, their mutual jealousy preventing the molestation of the weaker neighbor.
On the other hand, its political institutions may be such as to compel
the others to unite in attacking it in order to secure themselves.
The republics of Switzerland
could remain unmolested in the midst of powerful monarchies; but revolutionary France
brought upon herself the armies of all Europe
Climate has also some influence upon military character, but this influence is far less than that of education and discipline.
Northern nations are said to be naturally more phlegmatic and sluggish than those of warmer climates; and yet the armies of Gustavus Adolphus
, Charles XII., and Suwarrow
, have shown themselves sufficiently active and impetuous, while the Greeks, Romans
, and Spaniards, in the times of their glory, were patient, disciplined, and indefatigable, notwithstanding the reputed fickleness of ardent temperaments.
For any nation to postpone the making of military preparations till such time as they are actually required in defence, is to waste the public money, and endanger the public safety.
The closing of an avenue of approach, the security of a single road or river, or even the strategic movement of a small body of troops, often effects, in the beginning, what afterwards cannot be accomplished by large fortifications, and the most formidable armies.
Had a small army in 1812, with a well-fortified depot on Lake Champlain
, penetrated into Canada
, and cut off all reinforcements and supplies by way of Quebec
, that country would inevitably have fallen into our possession.
In the winter of 1806-7, Napoleon
crossed the Vistula, and advanced even to the walls of Konigsberg
, with the Austrians in his rear, and the whole power of Russia
before him. If Austria
had pushed forward one hundred thousand men from Bohemia, on the Oder, she would, in all probability, says the best of military judges, Jomini
, have struck a fatal blow to the operations of Napoleon
, and his army must have been exceedingly fortunate even to regain
preferred remaining neutral till she could increase her army to four hundred thousand men. She then took the offensive, and was beaten; whereas, with one hundred thousand men brought into action at the favorable moment, she might, most probably, have decided the fate of Europe
“ Defensive war,” says Napoleon
, “does not preclude attack, any more than offensive war is exclusive of defence,” for frequently the best way to counteract the enemy's operations, and prevent his conquests, is, at the very outset of the war, to invade and cripple him. But this can never be attempted with raw troops, ill supplied with the munitions of war, and unsupported by fortifications.
Such invasions must necessarily fail.
Experience in the wars of the French
revolution has demonstrated this; and even our own short history is not without its proof.
In 1812, the conquest of Canada
was determined on some time before the declaration of war; an undisciplined army, without preparation or apparent plan, was actually put in motion, eighteen days previous to this declaration, for the Canadian peninsula
With a disciplined army of the same numbers, with an efficient and skilful leader, directed against the vital point of the British
possessions at a time when the whole military force of the provinces did not exceed three thousand men, how different had been the result!
While, therefore, the permanent defences of a nation must be subordinate to its resources, position, and character ter, they can in no case be dispensed with.
No matter how extensive or important the temporary means that may be developed as necessity requires, there must be some force kept in a constant state of efficiency, in order to impart life and stability to the system.
The one can never properly replace the other; for while the former constitutes the basis, the latter must form the main body
of the military edifice, which, by its strength and durability, will offer shelter and protection to the nation; or, if the architecture and materials be defective, crush and destroy it in its fall.
The permanent means of military defence employed by modern nations, are--
An army; 2d.
A navy; 3d.
The first two of these could hardly be called permanent, if we were to regard their personnel;
but looking upon them as institutions or organizations, they present all the characteristics of durability.
They are sometimes subjected to very great and radical changes; by the hot-house nursing of designing ambition or rash legislation, they may become overgrown and dangerous, or the storms of popular delusion may overthrow and apparently sweep them away.
But they will immediately spring up again in some form or other, so deeply are they rooted in the organization of political institutions.
Its army and navy should always be kept within the limits of a nation's wants ; but pity for the country which reduces them in number or support so as to degrade their character or endanger their organization.
“A government,” says one of the best historians of the age, “which neglects its army, under whatever pretext, is a government culpable in the eyes of posterity, for it is preparing humiliations for its flag and its country, instead of laying the foundation for its glory.”
One of our own distinguished cabinet ministers remarks, that the history of our relations with the Indian
tribes from the beginning to the present hour, is one continued proof of the necessity of maintaining an efficient military force in time of peace, and that the treatment we received for a long series of years from European
powers, was a most humiliating illustration of the folly of attempting to dispense with these means of defence.
Twice, “says he,” we were compelled to maintain, by open war, our quarrel with the principal aggressors.
After many years of forbearance and negotiation, our claims in other cases were at length amicably settled; but in one of the most noted of these cases, it was not without much delay and imminent hazard of war that the execution of the treaty was finally enforced.
No one acquainted with these portions of our history, can hesitate to ascribe much of the wantonness and duration of the wrongs we endured, to a knowledge on the part of our assailants of the scantiness and inefficiency of our military and naval force.
“ If,” said Mr. Calhoun
, “disregarding the sound dictates of reason and experience, we, in peace, neglect our military establishment, we must, with a powerful and skilful enemy, be exposed to the most distressing calamities.”
These remarks were made in opposition to the reduction of our military establishment, in 1821, below the standard of thirteen thousand Nevertheless, the force was reduced to about six or seven thousand; and we were soon made to feel the consequences.
It is stated, in a report of high authority, that if there had been two regiments available near St. Louis
, in 1832, the war with Black Hawk would have been easily avoided; and that it cannot be doubted that the scenes of devastation and savage warfare which overspread the Floridas
for nearly seven years would also have been avoided, and some thirty millions have been saved the country, if two regiments had been available at the beginning of that conflict.1
We must, in this country, if we heed either the dictates of reason or experience, maintain in time of peace a skeleton military and naval force, capable of being greatly expanded, in the event of danger, by the addition of new troops.
Much energy and enterprise will always be imparted to an army or navy by the addition of new forces.
The strength thus acquired is sometimes in even a far greater ratio than the increase of numbers.
But it must be remembered that these new elements are, of themselves, far inferior to the old ones in discipline, steady courage, and perseverance.
No general can rely on the accuracy of their movements in the operations of a campaign, and they are exceedingly apt to fail him at the critical moment on the field of battle.
The same holds true with respect to sailors inexperienced in the discipline and duties of a man-of-war.
There is this difference, however: an army usually obtains its recruits from men totally unacquainted with military life, while a navy, in case of sudden increase, is mainly supplied from the merchant marine with professional sailors, who, though unacquainted with the use of artillery, &c., on ship-board, are familiar with all the other duties of sea life, and not unused to discipline.
Moreover, raw seamen and marines, from being under the immediate eye of their officers in time of action, and without the possibility of escape, fight much better than troops of the same character on land.
If years are requisite to make a good sailor, surely an equal length of time is necessary to perfect the soldier; and no less skill, practice, and professional study are required for the proper direction of armies than for the management of fleets.
But some have said that even these skeletons of military and naval forces are entirely superfluous, and that a brave and patriotic people will make as good a defence against invasion as the most disciplined and experienced.
Such views are frequently urged in the halls of congress, and some have even attempted to confirm them by historical examples.
There are instances, it is true, where disorganized and frantic masses, animated by patriotic enthusiasm, have gained the most brilliant victories.
Here, however, extraordinary circumstances supplied the place of order, and produced an equilibrium between forces that otherwise would have been very unequal; but in almost every instance of this kind, the loss of the undisciplined army has been unnecessarily great, human life being substituted for skill and order.
But victory, even with such a drawback, cannot often attend the banners of newly raised and disorderly forces.
If the captain and crew of a steamship knew nothing of navigation and had never been at sea, and the engineer was totally unacquainted with his profession, could we expect the ship to cross the Atlantic
in safety, and reach her destined port?
Would we trust our lives and the honor of our country to their care?
Would we not say to them, “First make yourselves acquainted with the principles of your profession, the use of the compass, and the means of determining whether you direct your course upon a ledge of rocks or into a safe harbor?”
War is not, as some seem to suppose, a mere game of chance.
Its principles constitute one of the most intricate of modern sciences; and the general who understands the art of rightly applying its rules, and possesses the means of carrying out its precepts, may be morally certain of success.
History furnishes abundant proofs of the impolicy of relying upon undisciplined forces in the open field.
Almost every page of Napier
's classic History of the Peninsular
War contains striking examples of the useless waste of human life and property by the Spanish
militia; while, with one quarter as many regulars, at a small fractional part of the actual expense, the French
might have been expelled at the outset, or have been driven, at any time afterwards, from the Peninsula
At the beginning of the French Revolution
the regular army was abolished, and the citizen-soldiery, who were established on the 14th of July, 1789, relied on exclusively for the national defence.
“But these three millions of national guards,” says Jomini
, “though good supporters of the decrees of the assembly, were nevertheless useless for reinforcing the army beyond the frontiers, and utterly incapable of defending their own firesides.”
Yet no one can question their individual bravery and patriotism ; for, when reorganized, disciplined, and properly directed, they put to flight the best troops in Europe
At the first outbreak of this revolution, the privileged classes of other countries, upholding crumbling institutions and rotten dynasties, rushed forth against the maddened hordes of French democracy.
The popular power, springing upward by its own elasticity when the weight of political oppression was removed, soon became too wild and reckless to establish itself on any sure basis, or even to provide for its own protection.
If the attacks of the enervated enemies of France
were weak, so also were her own efforts feeble to resist these attacks.
The republican armies repelled the ill-planned and ill-conducted invasion by the Duke
; but it was by the substitution of human life for preparation, system, and skill; enthusiasm supplied the place of discipline; robbery produced military stores; and the dead bodies of her citizens formed épaulements
against the enemy.
Yet this was but the strength of weakness; the aimless struggle of a broken and disjointed government; and the new revolutionary power was fast sinking away
before the combined opposition of Europe
,when the greatly genius of Napoleon
, with a strong arm and iron rule, seizing upon the scattered fragments, and binding them together into one consolidated mass, made France
victorious, and seated himself on the throne of empire.
No people in the world ever exhibited a more general and enthusiastic patriotism than the Americans
during the war of our own Revolution.
And yet our army received, even at that time, but little support from irregular and militia forces in the open field.
's opinions on this subject furnish so striking a contrast to the congressional speeches of modern political demagogues, who, with boastful swaggers, would fain persuade us that we require no organization or discipline to meet the veteran troops of Europe
in the open field, and who would hurry us, without preparation, into war with the strongest military powers of the world — so striking is the contrast between the assertions of these men and the letters and reports of Washington
, that it may be well for the cool and dispassionate lover of truth to occasionally refresh his memory by reference to the writings of Washlington.
The following brief extracts are from his letters to the President
of Congress, December, 1776:
The saving in the article of clothing, provisions, and a thousand other things, by having nothing to do with the militia, unless in cases of extraordinary exigency, and such as could not be expected in the common course of events, would amply support a large army, which, well officered, would be daily improving, instead of continuing a destructive, expensive, and disorderly mob. In my opinion, if any dependence is placed on the militia another year, Congress will be deceived.
When danger is a little removed from them they will not turn out at all. When it comes home to them, the well-affected, instead of flying to arms to defend themselves, are busily employed in removing
their families and effects; while the disaffected are concerting measures to make their submission, and spread terror and dismay all around, to induce others to follow their example.
Daily experience and abundant proofs warrant this information.
Short enlistments, and. a mistaken dependence upon our militia, have been the origin of all our misfortunes, and the great accumulation of our debt.
The militia come in, you cannot tell how; go, you cannot tell when; and act, you cannot tell where; consume your provisions, exhaust your stores, and leave you at last, at a critical moment.
These remarks of Washington
will not be found too severe if we remember the conduct of our militia in the open field at Princeton
, Savannah River
, Guilford Court-House, &c., in the war of the Revolution; the great cost of the war of 1812 as compared with its military results; the refusal of the New England
militia to march beyond the lines of their own states, and of the New-York
militia to cross the Niagara
and secure a victory already won; or the disgraceful flight of the Southern
militia from the field of Bladensburg
But there is another side to this picture.
If our militia have frequently failed to maintain.
their ground when drawn up in the open field
, we can point with pride to their brave and successful defence of Charleston
, New Orleans, Fort McHenry
, in proof of what may be accomplished by militia in connection with fortifications.
These examples from our history must fully demonstrate the great value of a militia when properly employed as a defence against invasion, and ought to silence the sneers of those who would abolish this arm of defence as utterly use-less.
In the open field militia cannot in general be manoeuvred to advantage; whereas, in the defence of fortified places, their superior intelligence and activity not unfrequently render
them even more valuable than regulars.
And in reading the severe strictures of Washington
, and others, upon our militia, it must be remembered that they were at that time entirely destitute of important works of defence; and the experience of all other nations, as well as our own, has abundantly shown that a newly-raised force cannot cope, in the open field
, with one subordinate and disciplined.
must determine the contest.
Habits of strict obedience, and of simultaneous and united action, are indispensable to carry out what the higher principles of the military profession require.
New and undisciplined forces are often confounded at the evolutions, and strategic and tactical combinations of a regular army, and lose all confidence in their leaders and in themselves.
But, when placed behind a breastwork, they even over-rate their security.
They can then coolly look upon the approaching columns, and, unmoved by glittering armor and bristling bayonets, will exert all. their shill in the use of their weapons.
The superior accuracy of aim which the American
has obtained by practice from his early youth, has enabled our militia to gain, under the protection of military works, victories as brilliant as the most veteran troops.
The moral courage necessary to await an attack behind a parapet, is at least equal to that exerted in the open field, where movements
generally determine the victory.
To watch the approach of an enemy, to see him move up and display his massive columns, his long array of military equipments
, his fascines and scaling-ladders, his instruments of attack, and the professional skill with which he wields them, to hear the thunder of his batteries spreading death all around, and to repel, hand to hand, those tremendous assaults, which stand out in all their horrible relief upon the canvass of modern, warfare, requires a heart at least as brave as the professional warrior exhibits in the pitched battle.
But we must not forget that to call this force into the open field,--to take the mechanic from his shop, the merchant from his counter, the farmer from his plough,--will necessarily be attended with an immense sacrifice of human life.
The lives lost on the battle-field are not the only ones; militia, being unaccustomed to exposure, and unable to supply their own wants with certainty and regularity, contract diseases which occasion in every campaign a most frightful mortality.
There is also a vast difference in the cost of supporting regulars and militia forces.
The cost of a regular army of twenty thousand men for a campaign of six months, in this country, has been estimated, from data in the War-office, at a hundred and fifty dollars per man; while the cost of a militia force, under the same circumstances, making allowance for the difference in the expenses from sickness, waste of camp-furniture, equipments, &c., will be two hundred and fifty dollars per man. But in short campaigns, and in irregular warfare, like the expedition against Black Hawk and his Indians in the Northwest
, and during the hostilities in Florida
, “the expenses of the militia,” says Mr. Secretary Spencer
, in a report to congress in 1842, “invariably exceed those of regulars by at least three hundred per cent
It is further stated that “fifty-five thousand militia
were called into service during the Black Hawk
wars, and that thirty millions of dollars have been expended in these conflicts
When it is remembered that during these border wars our whole regular army did not exceed twelve or thirteen thousand men, it will not be difficult to perceive why our military establishment was so enormously expensive.
Large sums were paid to sedentary militia who never rendered the slightest service.
Again, during our late war with Great Britain
, of less than three years duration, two hundred and eighty thousand muskets
,--the average cost of which is stated at twelve dollars,--making an aggregate loss, in muskets alone, of three millions and three hundred and sixty thousand dollars
, during a service of about two years and a half;--resulting mainly from that neglect and waste of public property which almost invariably attends the movements of newly-raised and inexperienced forces.
Facts like these should awaken us to the necessity of reorganizing and disciplining our militia.
, when Secretary of War
, General Harrison
while in the senate, and Mr. Poinsett
in 1841, each furnished plans for effecting this purpose, but the whole subject has been passed by with neglect.
Permanent fortifications differ in many of their features from either of the two preceding elements of national defence.
They are passive in their nature, yet possess all the conservative properties of an army or navy, and through these two contribute largely to the active operations of a campaign.
When once constructed they require but very little expenditure for their support.
In time of peace they withdraw no valuable citizens from the useful occupations of life.
Of themselves they can never exert an influence corrupting to public morals, or dangerous to public liberty; but as the means of preserving peace, and as obstacles to an invader, their influence and power are immense.
While contributing to the economical support of a peace establishment, by furnishing drill-grounds, parades, quarters, &c.; and to its efficiency still more, by affording facilities both to the regulars and militia for that species of artillery practice so necessary in the defence of water frontiers; they also serve as safe depots of arms and the immense quantity of materials and military munitions so indispensable in modern warfare.
These munitions usually require much time, skill, and expense in their construction, and it is of vast importance
that they should be preserved with the utmost care.
Maritime arsenals and depots of naval and military stores on the sea-coast are more particularly exposed to capture and destruction.
Here an enemy can approach by stealth, striking some sudden and fatal blow before any effectual resistance can be organized.
But in addition to the security afforded by harbor fortifications to public property of the highest military value, they also serve to protect the merchant shipping, and the vast amount of private wealth which a commercial people always collect at these points.
They furnish safe retreats, and the means of repair for public vessels injured in battle, or by storms, and to merchantmen a refuge from the dangers of sea, or the threats of hostile fleets.
Moreover, they greatly facilitate our naval attacks upon the enemy's shipping; and if he attempt a descent, their well-directed fire will repel his squadrons from our harbors, and force his troops to land at some distant and unfavorable position.
The three means of permanent defence which have been mentioned, are, of course, intended to accomplish the same general object; but each has its distinct and proper sphere of action, and neither can be regarded as antagonistical to the others.
Any undue increase of one, at the expense of the other two, must necessarily be followed by a corresponding diminution of national strength.
We must not infer, however, that all must be maintained upon the same footing.
The position of the country and the character of the people must determine this.
, from her insular position and the extent of her commerce, must maintain a large navy; a large army is also necessary for the defence of her own coasts and the protection of her colonial possessions.
Her men-of-war secure a safe passage for her merchant-vessels, and transport her troops in safety through all seas, and thus
contribute much to the acquisition all security of colonial territory.
The military forces of the British
empire amount to about one hundred and fifty thousand men, and the naval forces to about seven hundred vessels of war,2
carrying in all some fifteen thousand guns and forty thousand men. France
has less commerce, and but few colonial possessions.
She has a great extent of seacoas, but her fortifications secure it from maritime descents; her only accessible points are on the land frontiers.
Her army and navy, therefore, constitute her
principal means of defence.
Her army numbers some three hundred and fifty thousand men, and her navy about three hundred and fifty vessels,3
carrying about nine thousand guns and thirty thousand men. Russia
, and other continental powers, have but little commerce to be protected, while their extensive frontiers are greatly exposed to land attacks: their fortifications and armies, therefore, constitute their principal means of defence.
But for the protection of their own seas from the inroads of their powerful maritime neighbor, Russia
support naval establishments of a limited extent.
has, in all, some one hundred and eighty vessels of war, and Austria
not quite half that number.4
The United States
possess no colonies; but they have a seacoast of more than three thousand miles, with numerous bays, estuaries, and navigable rivers, which expose our most populous cities to maritime attacks.
The northern land frontier is two thousand miles in extent, and in the west our territory borders upon the British
possessions for many thousand miles more.
Within these limits there are numerous tribes of Indians
, who require the watchful care of armed forces to keep them at peace among themselves as well as with us. Our authorized
military establishment amounts to 7,590 men, and our naval establishment consists of seventy-seven vessels of all classes, carrying 2,345 guns, and 8,724 men.5
This is certainly a very small military and naval force for the defence of so extended and populous a country, especially one whose political institutions and rapidly-increasing power expose it to the distrust and jealousy of most other nations.
The fortifications for the defence of our sea-coast and land frontiers will be discussed hereafter.6