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WIFTY million dollars, ac- of coast-line. From the sea we are vul
cording to the estimates of nerable in a great many spots, and on this
the War Department, are account the creation of adequate defenBet needed to complete our sive works for guarding our numerous Wat system of fortifications for and widely-scattered harbors is neces
coast defense. It is an sarily a costly affair. In the building of urgent demand, because, if we were at the fortifications requisite for this purtacked at the present time by Japan, or pose no less a sum than $72,750,000 has Germany, or any other alert and aggres- · been expended within the last few years, sive power, we should be likely to suffer but, as above stated, the system is as yet terribly for lack of preparedness in this incomplete with respect to its equipment, respect.
and there is a woeful lack of men behind So far as forts go, we are excellently the guns. . . provided, but there is an insufficiency of The gigantic scale on which our sysguns, an alarming want of trained artil- tem of coast defenses has been establerymen to shoot them, and a serious de- lished is realized very imperfectly by the ficiency in certain indispensable appa- people at large. On the Atlantic shoreratus for the management of the bat- line alone we have no fewer than fortyteries—not to mention an almost total six modern fortresses. The Gulf has absence of the submarine equipments, twelve, and the Pacific coast thirteen especially for mine-fields, which are re- forts. All of these are provided with quired for the protection of our sea- high-power guns (though in some inports.
stances the number of the latter is inIn a strategic sense, the weak point of sufficient as yet), and are up-to-date in all the United States is its enormous length respects, so far as their construction is Copyright, 1907, by Technical World Company.
concerned. By the expenditure of the charging cylindro-conical armor-piercing $50,000,000 already mentioned every one projectiles weighing 1,000 pounds and of them can be made practically im- loaded with a high explosive. One such pregnable.
projectile landing upon the deck of a A fortress of this kind, of the highest warship will go far toward putting her class, costs about $5,000,000, of which out of action. The mortars are set back amount rather more than half is spent for at a distance from the shore because they guns. It consists of a series of concrete do better work at long ranges, being fired lined pits, called emplacements, below the into the air at an angle of forty-five delevel of the ground, in which the guns grees—notwithstanding which curve of stand on their carriages. The pits are trajectory the projectiles reach their placed at considerable distances froni mark with utmost precision. each other, in order to offer as poor a tar It is out of the question for warships, get as possible, and as near as practicable no matter how powerful, to attack with to the water's edge. From the water, success a fortification of this kind. In whether it be river channel or harbor, order to harm it, they would be obliged a grassy slope extends back to the pits. literally to batter down the landscape. Beneath the grass and several feet of Meanwhile the defenders are invisible, earth is an inclined plane of concrete; and the guns (being on disappearing but from the viewpoint of an approach- carriages) rise into view only at the moing vessel the works are altogether in- ment when they discharge their provisible, their outward aspect being merely jectiles. As for the mortars, it may be that of a well-kept bit of landscape. added that frightful execution was done
Such a. fort may have twenty-four at Port Arthur by the Japanese with guns—twelve large ones, and an equal weapons of this type, though they were number of smaller caliber. The big of smaller size than those here described, ones, of twelve-inch and fourteen-inch throwing shells that weighed only five caliber, intended primarily for attacking hundred pounds. They are destined to battleships, are placed two in each pit. prove extremely formidable in the warThose of less size, three-inch quick firers, fare of the future. which are mainly for covering and pro It is not going too far, then, to detecting the mine-fields off-shore, occupy scribe such fortresses, when they are two emplacements, six in each. All of fully and properly equipped, as imwhich formidable defensive equipment is pregnable—at all events to attack from reinforced by sixteen mortars, in similar the sea. To assail them by land would pits, some distance in the rear.
require a considerable military force, Now, to give a notion of the tremen- such as could hardly be disembarked dous character of these weapons, it anywhere upon our shores. As a matter should be explained that a twelve-inch of fact, however, an enemy would not rifle gun is forty feet long, weighs fifty- attempt to capture or destroy fortificaseven tons, and, with a charge of five tions of the kind by naval operations, but hundred and twenty pounds of powder, would try to run past them. In this efthrows a 1,000-pound projectile a dis- fort battleships might easily be successtance of thirteen miles. Be it remem- ful, escaping very serious damage, and bered, incidentally, that a ship is invisible thus reach an unprotected inner harbor, from the water's edge when it is only like that of New York, from which point seven miles away, owing to the curvature of vantage they could destroy a city or of the earth. Such a weapon does ef- hold it to ransom. fective and accurate work at twelve thou. This cannot be done if mine fields obsand yards. It fires armor-piercing shells struct the channel. But, unfortunately, containing heavy charges of a high ex- here is the very point in which our arplosive, so as to burst on impact. . rangements for the defense of our coast
The mortars are even more effective cities are weakest. Our military experts than the big guns. Altogether different have devised the most adınirable system from the old-style weapon so called, they of submarine mines in the world, but as are, in fact, short rifled cannon eight feet yet it is almost wholly on paper. Should in length and of twelve-inch caliber, dis- war break out with Japan, or with Ger
many, we should certainly be assailed without warning, and such prompt advantage might be taken of our helplessness in this respect as to decide the issue of the conflict against us before we had a chance to strike an effective blow. Think, for example, of the distressing position we should find ourselves in if half a dozen German battleships gained entrance to the harbor of New York! They might do hundreds of millions of dollars' worth
View OF PLOTTING Room, SHOWING THE "TRACKING" OF A TARGET Ship. of damage in a few hours, unless we chose surrender as the in a perilous situation—the mischief disgraceful alternative.
lying in the circumstance that the requiAccording to the estimate of the War site mines and other material demand a Department, only $3,466,322 would be period of many months for their manurequired to provide mines and all inci- facture, while the men to handle them dental equipments for submarine de- cannot be taught the art in less than a fense for all of our harbors from Port year. Are we to expect, forsooth! that land, Maine, to Puget Sound. But Con the foe will give us a year to get ready gress, which usually does its cheese- before he swoops down upon us? Even paring in the wrong place, has shown a of guns we yet lack one hundred and reluctance to put all of this money under eighty-seven to complete the armament of water. Thus, for the sake of saving so our coast defenses. small a sum, the country has been placed Floating contact mines of the kind
used by both belligerents at Port Arthur are, as shown by the experience of that campaign, dangerous alike to friend and foe. The sort we employ are submarine torpedoes, anchored usually in lines across a channel and connected by wire cables with the shore, from which they may be exploded by electricity. With such an arrangement, the infernal machines may be rendered entirely harmless when not in use, or at will may be utilized
with frightful destrucRange-FINDING STATION.
tiveness against hostile The men at work are the observer (looking through instrument), the reader, warships trying to run reader sends the range by telephone to plotting room.
by. The entire mine field
obstructing a harbor entrance is by this management of automatic anchors, which means controlled by a single operator last is a science in itself. through the medium of a series of push- For some years past there has been in buttons.
existence a well-equipped school of subOne method adopted for such pur marine warfare at Fort Totten, N. Y., poses consists in laying off the water where a limited number of graduates in surface of the mine fields, by careful sur these arts are turned out annually, both vey, in a series of squares arranged like officers and enlisted men, the latter being those of a checkerboard. Two telescopes thereupon assigned to various fortified on shore, a couple of miles apart perhaps, posts along the seacoast. The method of can together fix the exact position of a training adopted is as practical as posvessel floating anywhere in the channel. sible, small steamers being used for These telescopes are electrically con- planting mines and connecting the cables. nected with two brass pointers which, in The automatic anchors aforesaid are in-· an underground chamber within the genious contrivances whereby the mines fort, move upon a map. The map, which may be placed at any desired distance represents the mine field, is likewise checkerboard, each numbered square of which corresponds to a surveyed square of the channel. Obeying the telescopes, the pointers meet exactly where the ship in view happens to be at the moment, and to explode the submarine torpedo nearest to her is simply a matter of push.ing the right button.
Happily, Congress at last shows signs of being persuaded that something really must be done to remedy the deficiencies already mentioned. It has provided $575,000 as a starter, for the purchase of mines and other apparatus for submarine defense. It has also created a new corps, to be called the Torpedo Artillery, which will attend to the business of operating such military contriyances. This corps is to consist of picked men, who shall have undergone a thorough course of instruction in all matters relating to subaqueous warfare, including the chemistry of explosives, electricity, and the
EXPLOSION OF SUBMARINE MINE.