Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/233

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
First Congress.

channel, where sufficiently narrow, by strong lines of obstructions, filling it with submarine batteries, and flanking the obstructions by well-protected batteries of the heaviest guns, seem to offer the best and speediest chances of protection, with the means at our disposal, against ironclad floating batteries. The field works for the defense of Richmond, which are arranged upon the plan of the detached system, conceded by most military men to be the best, are completed, with the exception of two on the side of the city, and one main and two accessory works on the Manchester side. The unfinished works will be completed as soon as more important ones farther from the city are in a more efficient condition. The line occupied by these works was chosen to make it as short as possible, partly from the difficulty of defending a longer line, and partly from the time, labor, and expense necessary to construct such a one. It is rather nearer the city than desirable, but the enemy must remain out of reach of our guns, at least as heavy as his, until the line is carried, and then the city must fall, whether the line be near or removed within the limits of a few miles. I see no advantage in constructing a new line more removed from the city, unless the Chickahominy be found suited to the system of dams and overflow, which, I think, from the information in my possession, is problematical. Should the enemy get near enough to lay siege to this city, additional works can be thrown up as he develops his plans and means; and these, with those already constructed, can be armed with the guns which would necessarily be brought back with the troops to defend them. The want of heavy guns and the requisite carriages has prevented the fortifications here from being armed with them to any extent, and I do not think it wise to take them for this purpose from other points where, in my opinion, they are more needed. Any system of fortification which could be constructed during the war for the defense of this city would only serve to gain time. An army which allows itself to be shut up in a fortified city must finally yield to an enemy superior in numbers and munitions of war.

Jefferson Davis.

Executive Department, March 24, 1862.

To the Honorable the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Sir: Inclosed I send for the consideration and action of the House of Representatives a communication from the Acting Sec-