War of the Rebellion: Serial 068 Page 0883 Chapter XLVIII. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. - UNION.

Search Civil War Official Records


Washington, May 18, 1864.

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

Chief of Staff:

GENERAL: I have the honor to transmit herewith a report of the inspection of the defenses of Washington, made by order of the Secretary of War.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General, Inspector of Artillery.


Washington, May 17, 1864.

Major-General HALLECK,

Chief of Staff:

SIR: In compliance with the directions of the Secretary of War, received on the 29th ultimo, I have made an inspection of the works in the defenses of this city, and beg leave to submit the following report of the inspection: My line being broken by court duties, I was unable to make but little progress in the inspection until the 10th instant, and since that time the movement of troops within the line of defenses has somewhat embarrassed the completion of the inspection. The character and strength of the troops garrisoning the different forts, their discipline,drill and efficiency, the kind and extent of the armament, the condition and supply of the magazines, ammunition, and implements are found int his report under the names of the respective forts. After a careful examination of the line of works I am of the opinion that they are ample in their engineering and artillery strength for the purpose for which they were intended-the defense of Washington. The works on the south side of the Potomac may be divided into three classes: First, those which immediately cover approaches to the city, and are within artillery command of the city; second, those which cover approaches, and are beyond the range of artillery command; third, those which do not cover approaches to the city, and are beyond the range of artillery from the city. Of the first class, which I regard as the most important, are the works extending from Fort C. F. Smith on the right to Forts Richardson and Scott on the left, inclusive. The consecutive works in this line are within close artillery support of each other and with good field of fire. Forts Corcoran, Whipple and Albany, Bennett, Haggerty, and Runyon are interior works of this class, Forts Whipple and Corcoran being of the first importance, having a strong command over five of the works in the front line. Fort Runyon is out of repair, and is at present unoccupied. It holds, however, an important position, being at the head of Long Bridge, and if occupied would hold the bridge and guard it from a surprise. I recommend that it be put in order and occupied. The exterior works of this class are connected with a strong earthen epaulement, and extending along the line of works to the Potomac on the left, with embrasures for light artillery at favorable points. If this class of works is held, it is not, in my judgment, in the power of an enemy seriously to annoy Washington with a fire from the south side of the river. With an artillery strength of men sufficient to develop the fire of the forts, and a proper support of infantry, I am of opinion that the works cannot be carried by an assault.