Washington, January 4, 1862.
Honorable SECRETARY OF WAR:
SIR: In conformity with the tenor of your letter of the 16th of November, addressed to His Excellency the Governor of the State of Maine,* on the subject of defenses required within the limits of that State, I have the honor to offer the following statement of the present condition of those defenses, with some remarks on such further defensive works as seem to me to fall within the scope of the contemplated preparation:
Up to this time, since the peace of 1815, labors upon fortifications have been confined (within the State of Maine) to the harbors of Portsmouth (of which the eastern shores are in that State) of Portland and to the Narrows of Penobscot. Projects have been made and sanctioned by Congress for the defense of the mouth of the Kennebec, steps taken to secure a title to this site, and all preliminary measures that are practicable will be taken during the winter for the early commencement and rapid prosecution of work next year. The places mentioned have heretofore been regarded as points of the greatest importance on that coast, and requiring first to be put in a state of security. There are other interests of consequence, several growing and quite populous towns, for instance, which in a war with a naval power would be exposed to predatory visits from privateers and small cruisers; but as these as yet would hardly invite formidable enterprises, adequate protection in the way of temporary sea-coast batteries may be promptly provided whenever the danger shall seem to immediately impend. These do not, however, compare as to importance or exposure to the points named above, where two great rivers-one harbor inclosing a large city, with the termini of several railroads with corresponding external commerce, and one embracing (besides a large town and its commerce) one of the great navy-yards of the nation-demand protection of the surest kind. Should a state of war expose the others to depredations from small enterprises resort must be had (for some time to come, at any rate) to batteries of earth to be thrown up and served by the local or neighboring military force. For the armament of such batteries there should be provided in good time and placed at hand, or conveniently, for speedy distribution a full supply of ordnance and ordnance stores.
I will now turn to particulars of the important points before mentioned, taking them up in order, beginning with the most southern:
Portsmouth Harbor and Navy-Yard.-These have no other land defenses than Fort Constitution, on Great Island, N. H., and Fort McClary, on the Kittery (Maine) shore. Both were erected a little before the war of 1812. They occupy important sites imperfectly and are quite inadequate to a proper defense of this entrance and harbor. But in the want of better they have been put in the best condition possible as regards efficiency against a naval attack, and are now in readiness to receive their full armament, namely:
Old Fort Constitution: Forty-six guns, bearing upon the channel. which are to be of the heaviest calibers, viz, three 15-inch guns, thirty 10 and 8 inch guns, thirteen 32 and 24 pounders, besides twelve mortars and field guns; total, 58 pieces.
New Fort Constitution, designed to occupy the site of the present fort, will be calculated for three 15-inch guns, eighty-one 10- inch guns, thirty-seven 8-inch guns, twelve 32-pounders, four 24- pounder howitzers, twelve mortars and field guns; total, 149 pieces.
*See p. 650.