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Cease defences — marine and water batteries.

The Yankees are building, or intend building, a marine battery, which is to be clad in iron, and which, according to their usual Chinese clamor, is to demolish Fort Sumter, Fort Moultrie, and other Southern fortifications, with the greatest case. If they can construct a marine battery thus clad which can stand a sea voyage to Charleston, (which is doubtful,) why can we not construct a battery iron clad which can be used against Fortress Monroe? And, again, on the other hand, if a ship can be made ball proof against a land battery by being sheathed with iron, why cannot Forts Sumter, Moultrie, and other fortifications, be made equally invulnerable by being sheathed with the came material?

That the South greatly needs a marine to act in conjunction with its harbor batteries, is evident enough; but, to supply this deficiency, is a work of time. The Charleston Mercury suggests that what we need now, for present emergencies, as a substitute for a war marine, is a class of simple, quickly made, rude, but efficient structures, for occupying channels, and which, sustained by batteries along shore, shall be able, in turn, to give support to the batteries in the event of any powerful demonstrations to be made against them by the landing of large bodies of troops. Could we provide such a number of floating, or marine batteries, as would cover the main entrances, we might rationally expect that any demonstrations of the enemy through minor channels would be simply predatory, and easily met by the coast guard and local militia. It is to this feature, then, the joint use of marine and land batteries, forts and floating batteries, that we need mostly to address our attention at the present juncture; and what we seek to do, in this respect, should be done quickly. We shall have little time to lose between this and the first of October.

The Mercury also contains a communication of considerable length in relation to the late Gen. Gaines, and his views on the subject of national defences. Seeing that the introduction of steam power was destined to work a great change in the art of war, Gen, Gaines came to the conclusion that ‘"the invasion and occupation of any inhabited portion of the interior sections of this country by a hostile army, is a thing so utterly impossible and preposterous that no war minister in Europe would like to be suspected of entertaining the idea."’ Hence, he inferred that ‘"all the great battles that will ever be fought on our own soil in such wars, will be upon or near the entrances of our principal seaport towns and inlets."’ In accordance with this conclusion, he devised a magnificent scheme of national defence, the principal features of which were a system of railroads connecting the interior with the seaboard, and over which the whole available force of the country could be transported in a few days, and thus save from conflagration and utter destruction the cities of Charleston, New Orleans, Mobile, Norfolk, Baltimore and others. But ‘"as a fleet of large war steamers, moving from twelve to fifteen miles an hour, and armed with Paixhan's guns and improved rockets, would not only be able to enter our harbors and return at all times, and with any change of wind or tide, with perfect facility, but would pass any battery or fortifications on shore with such rapidity as to be within the range of any gun but a few minutes — too short a time to incur any great or serious injury in open day, and much less by night."’" In view of these facts he came to the conclusion, which we give in his own words, that ‘"no works on land, no line of forts or batteries on the shores of the inlets of our reports, (including all the works now constructed of planned,) can prevent the entrance of a hostile fleet propelled by Steam power."’ To meet this change wrought by the application of steam power, he adopted, as a of his plan for the defence of our seaports, several novel contrivances, among which were "floating batteries" or moving forts, from the range of whose guns the enemy could not escape.

The plan of Gen. Gaines had also a feature for closing harbors against an enemy, which he describes at length in a letter to the Common Council of New York, in October, 4 In that letter he say:

‘ "Could we always be certain of a competent force of war steamers at every such point of expected invasion, no other defence would be needed or asked. But the construction of the number of armed steamships which would be confessedly necessary for the defence of all our great seaports, in this mode, would involves an expenditure that must put it wholly out of the question. The only practicable means of defending the entrances of our harbors against war steamers, then, is to close them entirely against aggression. by Barring and Locking them ? This can be effected only by placing a floating obstruction completely across the channel of each deep inlet, secured to the shore on each side so as to be under the guns of our forts. This proposed obstruction must be of such size and form and material, and must be so attached, as to resist and entirely overcome the momentum of several large war steamers, advancing at the greatest velocity, which is equal to ten, twelve, or perhaps fourteen miles per hour in smooth water. The contrivance which I have suggested consists of two long floating structures of timber and iron, (presenting a surface of such a curvature as will cause all shot that strike it to glance off harmless.) severally attached at each end to opposite shores, and meeting at an acute angle in the centre of the channel, where they are to be securely fastened when ready for action, presenting a complete bar to any foe seeking an entrance. The abutment on shore, to which each half of this structure is secured, and on which it swings, when moved is designed to be under the guns of the fortifications already or in part constructed. When no enemy is expected, the entrance is left open by drawing the two wings or segments of this great floating gate from each other (by chain or other strong cables) and causing them to swing around so as to be parallel to the shore, and in contact with it. The details of the structure, the fastenings, and the mode of moving the two portions towards and from each other, cannot be conveniently given in this place, and are not essential to my present general purpose.

"Our war steamers and floating batteries (whether constructed in connection with this plan or independently of it) lying inside of the floating gate, are important adjuncts of the scheme, and would, with the heavy batteries of the forts, present a combination of force sufficient for the destruction of any hostile squadron."

’ For more than thirty years Gen. Gaines urged his plans upon the attention of the Government at Washington, but without success. The distribution of the spoils of office was considered more important than the preservation of national safety and honored. Gen. Jackson assured Gen. Gaines of his approbation, and gave it as his opinion that ‘"the reason why his system of defence, which he examined with attention, had been objected to by the officers in and about the War Department was, that it was decidedly superior to anything which he had ever seen proposed by any of them."’ It is obvious that the time is at hand when some plan for the defence of Southern harbors and fortifications against the contemplated engines of attack should be adopted.

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