The defect referred to by Captain McClelland, and which has so often been pointed out by our best military men, cannot be obviated by any transfer or assignment, whether temporary or permanent, of the appropriate duties of one corps to another. Indeed, such a measure would only tend to make this defect permanent, and to convert a temporary into a lasting evil. It can readily be remedied by legislative action, but in no other way. The executive action suggested would be deprecated by all. Moreover, the evil is now so obvious and so generally admitted, that there can be little doubt that Congress will soon perceive the importance of applying the only proper and effective remedy.
Although the general principles of the plan and arrangement of a permanent fortification, as established by the great masters of this branch of military science, remain the same; nevertheless, the vast improvements which have, within the last few years, been made in projectiles, require some changes in the details of defensive works of this character. These changes consist mainly in an increased thickness of stone and earthen parapets and of the covering of magazines, in the arrangement of embrasures, and in protecting the garrison from an enemy’s sharpshooters. The introduction of heavier siege guns, and of heavier ordnance on ships of war, and especially on those propelled by steam, require much larger ordnance in forts designed for the defence of harbors. In the Russian war, Sweaborg was made to suffer from a distant bombardment which left her fortifications intact. These modifications in the arrangements and armaments of forts are absolutely necessary in order to restore the relative power of defence against the improvements made in the means of attack. They can very easily be introduced without changing the form or general character of the works, and they are really so very essential that, without them, a fort constructed 25 or 30 years ago, and well suited to the then existing state of the military art, will be likely to offer no very considerable resistance to modern siege batteries or well organized maritime attacks.
Some have gone much further in their estimate of the effect produced by the increased size and force of military projectiles, and boldly assert that masonry works of strong relief can no longer be used, and that the increased range of small arms requires an entire change of the bastioned front, with lines more extended.
With respect to the effect of the increased range of small arms, it is very natural that a superficial observer should adopt the opinion that this improvement must be followed by an extension of the lines of a defensive military work; but a close study of the subject will probably lead to a different conclusion. Such at least is the opinion of the ablest military engineers of Europe. The lines of the bastioned