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would have entirely obviated the necessity of keeping up the ineffectual police of the Potomac River, a distance of about one hundred and thirty miles, and would have saved the Government several millions of dollars and many lives. It is conceded by some of the ablest military minds of the Federal and Confederate armies that it would have insured the success of General McClellan's attempt on Richmond.
It is to be hoped that such an occasion for its use may never again arise, but human foresight cannot predict what may happen in the future, and it is therefore wisdom on the part of the Government to be in a condition to meet such a contingency should it occur, especially if the means be such as will, at the same time, promote the great industrial interests of the country, which, of itself, would justify Congress in granting the aid asked.
But if, happily, the barmony of the Union should (as it is hoped it will) remain unbroken for all time to come, the reasons why the Gov. ernment should possess the advantages of such a line will apply with equal force to operations against a foreign enemy.
The harbor of Saint Mary's River is probably the finest, in every respect, on the Atlantic coast.
It is easy of access at all times of the day and night, and at all seasons of the year, to vessels of the heaviest draught. The Great Eastern, on the occasion of her visit to the Chesapeake waters, entered it with perfect ease. By this railroad it is witbin two hours and a half of Washington.
It is sufficiently commodious and deep to accommodate all the navies of the world, and is perfectly protected from danger during the most violent storms.
It is never obstructed by ice, even in the severest weather, and the navigation to and from the ocean is as free and open as the ocean itself.
There are springs of purest water flowing from banks of sufficient elevation to enable vessels, with the aid of a short hose, to water in a very short time. During the civil war, the United States vessels on duty on the Potomac were watered there in this way..
The banks of the river are sufficiently elevated to adapt them exactly to the delivery of grain and coal by means of chutes on board of ves. sels, thus rendering large elevators unnecessary; and as this mode of delivery will obviate the necessity of beavy storage, smaller elevators will answer that purpose.
In relation to the fituess of this harbor for naval purposes, and its general advantages, I again refer to the report of the naval board, Ap. pendix A.
In this connection I respectfully submit a few observations in relation to the peculiar advantages this line and the harbor of Saint Mary's offer as a great naval coaling-statiou.
This road, by its connection with the Metropolitan branch of the Baltiinore and Obio Railroad at Washington, furnishes a direct line of communication with the great coal-fields of Cumberland. It is now conceded that this coal is by far the best steam-generator known, and its use, therefore, in the Nary, and at naval stations, is not only importavt, but an absolute necessity, and is an item of such importance in the paval expenditures that any mode that can be suggested to improve the couveniences of the mode and rapidity of delivery, as well as to greatly lessen the expense, is, of course, worthy of, and will doubtless receive, the earne si consideration of Congress.
This road, buy its connection with the Baltimor an Poton ac and the
Northern Central, forms also a direct and short line of communication with the anthracite fields of Pennsylvania. This coal is also largely used for naval purposes at the various stations, and if this, as well as the Cumberland coal, can be delivered at Saint Mary's at greatly lower rates tban at present paid, it is manifestly to the interest of the Government to avail itself of that advantage.
Owing to the fact that Saint Mary's River is nearer the coal-fields and the ocean than any other point, coal can be delivered there at considerably lower rates, and the conveniences for prompt and rapid delivery make a great saving in time.
This question is so ably discussed by Mr. Vernon in his letter hereto annexed, in the appendix, to which I respectfully refe., that I deem it unnecessary to enlarge upon it here.
Mr. Vervon has devoted his attention for many years to the subject of cheap transportation, and has collated so many important facts bearing upon this subject that he is now regarded as authority upon all matters touching it by eminent railroad-men; and, after an exhaustire examination of the importance of the Southern Maryland Railroad as a link in the great system of railroads of the country, he concludes that, in view of its importance to the Government, it would be to its interes; to build this road, and that the saving on coal alone would more than pay the interest on the bonds.
I omit any extended reference to this road as affording the most repid, convenient, and certain mail-route to the South and Southwest. Tho fact that by this route the time between Baltimore and Norfolk, and Washington and Norfolk, is shortened from five to six bours, will indi. cate its importance in this respect. Besides this great advantage, the mails would never be delayed or stopped by ice, as is the case in the Upper Potomac and Patapsco Rivers. On the subject of mails, see appendix, letter of the president of the company to the PostmasterGeneral, marked B, and the answer of the Second Assistant Postmaster General, marked C.
It will be observed that the foregoing remarks relate solely to the great advantages which will inure to the Government by the establishment of this road, and, in this view alone, it strongly cominends itself to the favorable consideration of Congress.
Its relation to the industrial interests of the District of Columbia, while it directly promotes the prosperity of the citizen, will at the same time undoubteilly be of great advantage to the Government, by relieving it of the necessity of supplying the deficiency of the District revenue from the public Treasury; and that such will be the effect of this read I will proceed to show.
With this road in operation, the Saint Mary's will become an eutrepôt of a large and active trade to and from Washington. At this moment the river navigation from Washington to the Chesapeake-a distance of about one hundred and thirty miles—is effectually closed by ice for more than thirty miles below this city, and the Lower Potomac is covered with vessels unable to reach their destination. Business of every de. scription is consequently paralyzed, producing a general stagnation, besides the great loss to the vessels growing out of the long and unavoidable demurrage to which they are subjected, and this disastrous state of things can be calculated on with reasonable probability every year. This is a matter which affects the interests of New England, New York, and Philadelphia, for these vessels are owned in these localities, and these losses are felt there.
Now, if the Southern Maryland Railroad were in operation, the car. goes of these vessels could be delivered in Washington in three hours, and the return cargoes be placed on board with equal celerity, thus not only obviating the detention for a single day unnecessarily, but enabling them to proveed on their return voyage many days earlier than even if the river were open.
Besides, it would open three large and fertile counties for daily supplies to the markets of Washington, thereby reducing the rates of living far below the present prices.
It is manifest, then, that this road would give the business of Washington an immense and steady impulse, and when we consider the great manufacturing facilities possessed by the District, there is no reason why the city of Washington should not take her place as one of the most progressive and prosperous cities of the Union. The immense increase of the value of taxable property would not only enable her to pay her indebtedness, but would forever remove all apprehension as to her future solvency, even under a system of improvements on a liberal scale. In this view the Government has an interest in the construction of this road which ought to commend itself to Congress.
The question of removing the navy-yard from this city is now engag. ing the attention of Congress. The Naval Committee of the Senate has already made a report demonstrating this necessity. The question as to where it shall be located is, of course, one of vital importance, not only because it involves the expenditure of a large sum of money, but specially because it is important to the interests and effectiveness of a great department of the Government.
I have no doubt that, upou full iuvestigation, it will be conceded that there is no point on the Atlantic coast that offers so many advantages as the Saint Mary River. These I have already dwelt opon, and will pot pursue the subject further than to say that enouglı has been presenter to the consideration of Congress to suggest the expediency of requiring a board of experienced naral officers to make a careful personal examination of that estuary, and to report the results of their examination.
Mr. Vernon presents in his letter, in such a striking and convincing manyer, the superior advantages of our road as a means of cheap transportation, and the Saint Mary's as a convenient point of distribution of the produce of the great West, that I deem it necessary to enlarge upon that point. The internal traffic of the West is of such vast magnitude that it exceeds in value double the amount of the whole foreign commerce of the United States, and, upon reference to his letter, it will be found that he includes in his data only the cities of Louisville, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Chicago. Surely, when these vast interests are duly considered, and the importance of affording a short and convenient outlet for it to the ocean, it will be conceded that the aid asked for is due to the great end to be obtained.
For further and more detailed information as to the trade, local and otherwise, that must seek its transit over this route, I respectfully refer to the letter of Mr. C. W. Buckingham, (see appendix marked E,) and letter of Hon. A. P. Gorman, president Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, (marked F.)
In granting the aid asked for, the Government can run no risk in guaranteeing these bonds, because, under the provisions of this bill, the road is to be completed and in operation before the guarantee is made, and the completion of the road must be within two years from the passage of the act, otherwise it will be void and of non-effect.
It is also provided in the bill that ample security shall be placed in
the hands of the Government to secure the payment of the coupons as the interest shall become due; and a sinking-fund is created amply sufficient to retire the bonds at maturity. Thus every guard is thrown around the bill to protect the Government from possible loss.
It seems to me to be perfectly clear that the great advantages which will result to the Government from the building of this road will infinitely more than compensate for the mere loan of the credit to build it.
I respectfully append to this memorial several articles taken from the various papers of the city of Washington reflecting the sentiments of the people of the District as to the importance of this road to their interests. Respectfully submitted.
SAM’L S. SMOOT, President Southern Maryland Railroad Company.
[H. Ex. Doc. No. 108, 43d Congress, 2d session] Letter from the Secretary of the Navy, transmitting report of the board of naval officers
appointed, in compliance with House resolution of April 13, 1874, to inquire as to the expediency of establishing at the harbor of Saint Mary's River, Maryland, a naval coalingstation. January 18, 1875.- Referred to the Committee on Naval Affairs and ordered to be printed.
Washington, January 14, 1875. SIR: In compliance with a resolution of the House of Representatives of the 13th of April, 1874, a board of vaval officers was appointed to inquire as to the expediency of establishing at the harbor of Saint Mary's River, Maryland, a paval coaling station; and I have the bonor to transmit a copy of the report of the board. Very respectfully,
GEO. M. ROBESON,
Secretary of the Nary. Hon. JAMES G. BLAINE,
Speaker of the House of Representatives.
WASHINGTON, D. C., December 21, 1874. SIR: In obedience to your order of the 11th instant, appointing us a board to inquire into the expediency of establishing at the harbor of Saint Mary's, Saint Mary's River, Maryland, a naval coaling-station, forwarding map and surveys of said river and adjacent waters, made by the Topographical Bureau of the War Department in 1824, with copy of a resolution passed by the House of Representatives April 13, 1874, as follows: "Whereas the Southern Maryland Railroad Company is now engaged in constructing a railroad from Washington to Saint Mary's River and Point Lookout, at the confluence of the Potomac River with the Chesapeake Bay; and whereas said railroad, when completed, will bring the city of Washington within two and a half hours of the Chesapeake Bay, at the deep water of the harbor of Saint Mary's, Saint Mary's River, which will enable the Government to avail itself of the benefit of said hårbor thus rendered accessible to the seat of Government at all times of the year: Therefore, Be it resolved, That the Secretary of the Navy be, and he is hereby, directed to obtain from the War Department the report and survey made of the Saint Mary's River and adjacent waters by the Topographical Bureau of the War Department, made about the year 1824, and to appoint a board of naval officers, to whom the same shall be submitted, to inquire into and report as to the expediency of establisbing at the said harbor a naval coaling-station, and to report the results of their investigation to the Secretary of the Navy, who sball forward the same, with his recommendations thereon, to the House at the next session of Congress," directing the board “ to give the subject the inquiry which the resolution suggests, and to submit our report to the Department in good season at its present session"—the board has given the subject suggested by the resolution, and in conformity with your orders, a careful examination and consideration, and have the honor respectfully to report:
That from various sources reliable information as to the location of the harbor of the Saint Mary's River, and its fitness for the purposes of a naval coaling-station, has been obtained.
By an examination of the surveys of Saint Mary's River, Maryland, made by Majors Abert and Kearney, Topographical Engineers, United States Army, in 1824, by order of the Secretary of War, in accordance with a resolution of the Senate of the United States, we find in the deep-water channel, extending from the mouth of the Saint Mary's six miles to its harbor, a depth of 21 to 31 feet at low water, the average width of the river at various intermediate points being about one mile.
The distance from the confluence of the waters of the Saint Mary's River with the waters of the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay to the Atlantic Ocean is eighty-six miles, with easy and unobstructed navigation to the largest vessels at all times.
Thé bituminons-coal fields of Maryland and Virginia are located from the Saint Mary's Harbor about three hundred and fifty miles; those of the semi-bituminons of Maryland, near Cuberland, two hundred and fifty miles; and to the anthracite fields of Pennsylvania, two hundred and eighty miles.
These coal-fields, on the completion of the Southern Maryland Railroad, will be accessible by rail with the harbor of Saint Mary's, and thus become available and practically unlimited sources of coal-supply.
The Delaware River is at present the principal shipping-point for the anthracites, Washington and Baltimore being the shipping-points for the bituminous coals from the great Maryland basin.
The board, in the consideration of this subject, respectfully submit, in view of the contingency of war with a powerful foreign power, whether or not it is wise or judicious to rely upon any one shipping-point, others being available, for its coal-supply. With respect to the special fitness for such a depot, the Saint Mary's River is in all respects unexceptionable, large and commodious, with sufficient depth of water for all classes of vessels, accessible at all seasons of the year, and not subject to being obstructed by ice as on the upper portions of the Potomac, Patapsco, and Delaware Rivers. It is situated midway north and south, near the Atlantic coast, and equally convenient to naval stations north and south.
It is near the confluence of the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay, and within eighty-six miles of the Atlantic Ocean, and is not therefore subject to the longer and more tedious navigation, as compared with Washington and Baltimore. By the completion of the Southern Maryland Railroad it will be connected with the great coalfields of Maryland and Virginia via the Baltimore and Obio Railroad, over which any desirable quantity of coal can be delivered at the harbor of Saint Mary's at all seasons of the year.
It will connect directly with the anthracite-coal regions of Pennsylvania via the Southern Maryland Railroad, and the Baltimore and Potomac and Northern Central Railroads.
It will be connected with the seat of government by railroad, which will render it accessible in two hours and a half from the capital of the nation.
The late Capt. David Porter, when commissioner of the Navy, in a communication to the Secretary of the Navy, December 27, 1816, in relation to a site for a naval depot and the best means to be adopted for the defense of the Chesapeake Bay, states in reference to the Saint Mary's River:
“ Commodore Rodgers and myself, on our passage down the Potomac, in conformity with your instructions, touched in at Saint Mary's, which is situated near its month.
“In point of healthiness of situation, security from maritime attack, and (I am informed) from ice, excellence of harbor, and the easy ingress and egress to an inner harbor at all times to ships pot drawing more than 24 feet of water, the advantages it offers by means of streams of water for labor-saving purposes, and its convenience to forests of fine timber, Saint Mary's is, in my opinion, superior to any other place, of wbich I have a knowledge, on tbe Chesapeake for a naval depot."
Commodore John Rodgers, United States Navy, also a member of the Board of Navy Commissioners, in a communication to the Hou. Beujamin W. Crowinshield, the Secretary of the Navy, under date of December 23, 1816, upon this subject writes :
“I proceed now to examine Saint Mary's River. This river is situated on the porth side of the Potomac, about seven miles above Point Lookout, the next above Smith's Poiut, with which it forms the entrance into the Potomac.
“By some it is urged that this place, as respects salubrity of climate, is preferable to Norfolk or York. As a safe and commodious barbor it is, perhaps, not excelled by any in the United States. At its entrance it is about three miles wide, and the water is 32 to 33 feet deep for three and a half to four miles up; its width gradually decreases, until you pass two projecting points at opposite sides, within which the depth at low water is about 24 feet, and the river from point to point about oue-half mile wide ; from this to a place about two miles farther up, the river is, by two other projecting