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REPORT OF THE SECRETARY OF WAR.
WAR DEPARTMENT, Nocember 27, 1824. To the President of the Uniled States:
SIR, The annual period for submitting you a stateipent of the proceedings of this department having arrived, I have the honor, in conformity with your instructions, to lay before you an abstract of its operations, together with the reports and estimares from the various bureaus, exhibiting the condition of those branches of the public service connected with its administration.
Since my last annual report, no military movement of any importance, with the exception of the expedition of the regiment of dragoons, has been rendered necessary. The reports and information, which have reached the department respecting the situation of the army, are highly gratifying In its dicipline, its moral character, and the general per
formance of its duties, the government and the country have every reason to be satisfied with its condition and prospects. As a safeguard for the froutiers, as a school of practical instruction, as a depository of military information, and as the means of preparing and providing in peace for the exigencies of war, the present military establishment has fully answered the objects of its organization and support And it is but an act of justice to state, that, in all the essential requisites of capacity and conduct, the officers of the American army do honor to themselves and their country.
It is known to you that some of the Western tribes of Indians, roaming through the extensive prairies west of Arkansas and Missouri, par. ricularly the Camanches and Kiowas, have, for some years, interrupted the peace of that quarter, by predatory attacks upon our citizens, and upon the indigenous and emigrant Indians, whom we are under obligations to protect. Their war parties have annoyed our citizens, in their intercourse with the Mexican States, and have rendered the communica. tion difficult and hazardous. It became necessary to put a stop to this state of things, either by amicable representations, or by force. Those remote tribes have little knowledge of the strength of the United States, or of their own relative weakuess; and it was hoped that the display of a respectable military force for the first time, in their country, would satisfy them that further hostilities would lead to their destruction.
The dragoons, being peculiarly adapted to this service, were ordered to penetrate into that region, and to endeavor, by peaceable remonstrances, to establish permanent tranquillity ; and, if these should fail, to repe any hostile demonstrations which might be made. Fortunately, the efforts to introduce amicable relations were successful, and the object off the expedition was obtained, without a single act of hostility. Colonel Dodge, who led the expedition, and his whole command, appear to have performed their duties in the most satisfactory manner; and they encountered with firmness the privations incident to the harrassing service upon which they were ordered. li is to be regretted that the prevalence of sickness prevented the whole regiment from joining in this duty, as the same zeal for the public interest pervaded the whole.
That sickness deprived the country of some valuable lives, and, among otbers, of
Brigadier General Leavenworth lo pelled by his anxiety to forward the views of the government, he exposed himself, while yet weak, to the hardships of a border campaign, and sunk under the malady which these induced. His high personal character, his services during the late war, and his exemplary official conduct since, are too well knowp to you to \require from nie any thing more than this brief allusion to his worth and fat.
Among the accompanying documents will be found a full statement of the proceedings of Colonel Dodge, and of the satisfactory result of his expedition.
The report of the Chief Engineer contains a summary of the various objects entrusted to his supervision, and of their progress and condition. It will be seen that the Cumberland road, east of Wheeling, will be soon
completed, in the manner required by an act of last session, and for the amount allowed by law. No further appropriations will be asked for. As much progress has been made in the other works, as the advanced state of the season, when the appropriations were made, would permit.
I beg leave to ask your particular attention to that part of the report of the Chief Engineer which recommends an addition to the number of Jofficers of his corps. I believe the public service requires this measure. New duties have recently been imposed upon the engineer corps, by express acts of Congress; while, in other cases, it has been found necessary, by Executive regulation, to require from the officers services nog originally contemplated in the organization of the department. The erection of fortifications, the construction of roads, the establishment of fixed points, by astronomical observations, io boundary lines, and the improvement of harbors and rivers, are among the objects committed to the engineer officers. And I feel bound to report to you, that, as far as my observation or information has extended, their duties have been performed in the most satisfactory and exemplary manner lo scientific acquirements, and in their practical application, these offirers are deserving of high commendation, and it is very desirable that their num(bers should be so far augmented as to ensure their personal attention 10 all the objects within the control of the Engineer Department. This cannot now be done ; and the public service suffers in consequence of it.
Similar reasons call for a re-orginization of the topographical corps, and the officer at the head of it has submittert a projet for this purpose, which, while it will render that corps more efficient, will not increase the public expense I ask for it your favorable consideration. The duties connected with this branch of the service require peculiar attainments and great practical experience. They can best be performed by officers de
voting their whole time and attention to the subject. A system of detail, requiring periodical changes, however proper it may be, with relation to a just routine of military duties, so long as temporary assistants are seflected from, and continued in, the line of the army, it is still not calculated to ensure the best execution of the functions appropriately belonging to the topographical engineers. The remedy would be, to remodel the corps, and perinanently to attach to it as many officers as may be neces.
sary. And, by consolidating with it the civil engineers, the general opeHalions would be simplified, and the duties of the corps might embrace
all the objects connected with surveys for civil or military purposes. there is in this corps a fund of experience and information which cannol but be useful to the country.
It will be seen, by adverting to the report of the officer in charge of the topographical bureau, that difficulties have occurred in the execution of the joint resolution of Congress, passed at the last session, an providing for the construction of a rail road through the public groups at Harper's Ferry. Some "modification will be necessary before the object "i Con. gress, and of the Company, can be attained, and this may p:: bably be Jeffected by requiring the latter to pay the value of any improvements injured by the road, or by giving authority to replace them in other posilinus, should they be deemed of sufficient importance to require being paid for or removed.
The present condition of the work at the Delaware breakwater is shown in the report of the Quartermaster General, ant in that of the comauission lately instituted by your orders to examine it. It has been known for some tiine that gradual depositions were making in the vi. cinity of this work, by which the depth of water was somewhat reduced. But until this season, the process was so slow and uncertain, that no anxiety was felt with respect to its final effect upon this great national improvement. Recently, however, the accumulation of sand in the artificial harbor has been much more rapid, and indicated the necessity of a thorough examination by scientific persons, in order to ascertain, if possible, the causes of this occurrence, and to check or obviate them. The views of the officers selected for this purpose will be found in their report ; and, agreeably to your directions, they have been adopted by the departe
An estimate for one hundred thousand dollars, to be applied to this work, is among the annual estimates of the department, and if approved by Congress, that suin will be appropriated in the manner pointed out by the report, to the completion of that part of the work already begun, and yet unfinished. In the mean time, by a series of observations, frequently and carefully taken, the probable operation of the video and currents may be ascertained, and the best remedy to counteract them pointed out.
The act of March 2, 1829, “ to continue the present mode of supplying the army of the United States," expires, by its own limitation, on the 20 of March next. The Subsistence Department, which was continued by this act, has been found highly useful to the army, and beneficial to the public, by the efficiency and economy of its administration. From my own knowledge of its officers and operations, as well as from what I have otherwise learned of these, I feel called upon to present this subject particularly to your attention, satisfied that the continuance of the department is demanded by the best interest of the service,
The reports of the Major General, and of the other heads of bureaus, will communicate all the necessary information in relation to subjects respectively committed to them. I am not aware that there is any par. ticular inatter requiring your special attention. These reports are satisfactory in the views they exhibit of the course of administration, and of the reduced expenditures which are required for the service of the com
At the last session of Congress, so much of the laws as authorizes the conferring of brevets for ten years' service in one grade was repealed, and the nominations of all officers who had completed that term, prior to the repeal, was confirmed. This change seems to bear with some severity fu pou those who had served during the greater portion, but not the whole of such term. The existing laws, aud the practice under them, held out to all ofticers, as an inducement to good conduct, the prospect of promotion after ten years' faithful services ju one grade. In military life, the hope of professional distinction is essential to a high and honorable discharge of the dutirs to which its members are devoted. If this is destroy. ed or neglected, little more than a mechanical execution of these duties can be expected. In our army this sentiment is as dear, and as much cherished, as in any o'her, and if not the cause, it is certainly the accompanimeut of zealous devotion to the public interest. All the officers, who before the repeal of this law, had entered upon wbat may be termed their probation, expected, and had a right to expect, that if at its termination they should have complied with the condition, hy faithful service, the reward held out would be granted to them. I venture, respectfully, to suggest whether justice does not require such a modification of this law,
as to authorize the grinting of brevets to every one whose term of ten years had commen, ed before its repeal, at the end of such term, if the conditions of the law shall be fulfilled. This would ensure the ultiina te abolitiou of the practice which Congress had in view, while it would seem to be giving due weight to claims, founded, if not in right, certainly in strong considerations connected with the services and situation of the Jofficers. This valuable class of the community is exprised to every vicis. situde incident to climate and situation, and the pecuniary consideration they receive is barely sufficient to enable them to meet the demauds to which they are liable.
Disclosures have been made during the past season, showing the necessity of a thorough investigation into the operation of the laws granting pensions and gratuities for military services. It is ascertained that many frauds have been committed ; some in the application for pensions, and others in the continuance of these payments. As these disclosures have been the result of accident, it is impossible to judge to what extent frauds may have been comunitted; but enough has occurred to satisfy me that some new mode of proceeding is essentially necessary to detect and check these abuses.
In the administration of the laws on this subject, the parties are required to make certain declarations before the judicial tribunals, and the opinions of these tribunals are requested, in order to determine the validity of the application. In the administrative examination of the papers submitted in support of a clain, if the name of the applicant is found upon the recorded muster rolls, and his identity is established by his own declaration, and the proper certificates, the pension is granted as a matter of course. In far the greater number of cases, however, no muster roils of the corps exist, and frequently where they do exist, they are defective, and a resort to other testimony in the examination of the claim becomes, therefore, necessary.
Here a more detailed statement of services is required from the party, combining the various circumstances connected with such duty, best calculated to enable the proper exa mining officers to compare the statement with the records of the office,