--541--

21st Congress.] 

No. 414. 

[1st Session.

PLAN FOR A PEACE ESTABLISHMENT FOR THE NAVY.

COMMUNICATED TO THE SENATE FEBRUARY 18, 1830.

Navy Department, February 16, 1830.

Sir:

I have the honor, in further compliance with your call, to submit herewith a bill which proposes to reduce the officers of the naval corps to the number mentioned therein; which number is designed to be regarded as the lowest to which the wants of the naval service will at present permit it to be carried, or as the minimum of a peace establishment.

The objects proposed to be attained by this bill are, to diminish this body to something like the number actually required for the command of the vessels-of-war, and other purposes of the service; to relieve the navy from that portion of its officers who are deemed to be least useful for the important objects to be effected by it; and to introduce a system which may tend in an important degree to economize the expenditure for its support.

The task imposed on the Executive, by that portion of the bill which proposes a reduction in the number of the officers belonging to the corps, is by no means an enviable one; but it is demanded by the best interests of the navy and the nation, and ought not to be shrunk from.

Annexed is an exhibit of the number of officers at this time on the rolls of the navy, the minimum proposed by the bill, the number of each grade which the bill would discharge from the service, the present rate of pay and that proposed in lieu of it, and the saving that will be produced by the reduction in the number of officers.

The bill also provides, should the exigencies of the service demand it, that the President shall be vested with the power of adding to the corps, by promoting such number of officers as may increase it to the maximum number proposed therein, and which number it is believed will be equal to the command of as many ships-of-war as will be required to be put in commission, unless some change should take place in our maritime relations with other powers, not at present anticipated. It also proposes to invest the President with the power of making the reduction in such manner as he may think will best promote the interests of the navy; but it is designed that this process shall be effected with the aid and advice of a board of navy officers, to be appointed for that purpose, whose high standing, and acquaintance with the characters of the different officers who are to be the subjects of the regulations proposed by the bill, will justify the expectation that the selections will be made with strict regard to the respective merits of the individuals.

In assigning reasons in support of the contemplated reduction of the number of officers now in the service, reference is respectfully made to the report from this Department to the President of the United States, of the first of December last, in which the plan of a peace establishment is suggested as a measure essential to its prosperity and welfare.

In addition to the arguments therein afforded in support of the proposition, it may be added that manifest evils arise from the number of officers now in service—more than can be usefully employed therein.

It seems to be a point agreed upon by all experienced naval officers, that lieutenants and midshipmen should be kept, as much as possible, on duty afloat, and in the line of their profession. To effect this, it has heretofore been the practice to crowd them into ships-of-war, where the duties, divided amongst so many, demand but a small share of their attention, and they fail to acquire those habits of diligent and undivided attention to the objects in which they are engaged, which are indispensable in forming the character of an officer.

When not on duty afloat, under the circumstances just mentioned, they are permitted, by leave of absence, to retire amongst their friends, in the country, or in cities, where, in putting off the uniform, they often put off the officer, and contract habits of idleness or dissipation; or they are stationed, in unnecessary numbers, at the navy yards, where, having little to incite them to the steady performance of duty, they often adopt courses every way unfriendly to their future improvement and excellence in their profession. Such are among the ill consequences which naval men of experience have seen to result from an excess in the number of officers retained in service, beyond the ability of the nation to keep in useful employment in the the line of their profession.

There are, doubtless, many officers of the navy, who have, from being long subjected to toils and exposure incident to a mariner's life, and the encroachments of the decrepitude of old age, become incapable of rendering the efficient services demanded by naval duty and discipline. Whatever title they may have to the gratitude of their country, and to such provision as will render the remnant of their lives a period of tranquillity and comfort, they can have no claim to be retained on the list of those to whom are confided the active and arduous duties of sustaining the maritime power and glory of their country.

In the army of the United States this principle of reduction has been resorted to on several occasions, and, it is said, always with advantage to the efficiency of that arm of the national defence, and with a great diminution in the expenditure for its maintenance. Why should not a similar course be pursued in the navy, when causes even more cogent and imperative prompt the measure?

--542--

In the report made to the President of the United States, before referred to, some few remarks were offered on the justice and expediency of placing the naval officers on a footing with the officers of correspondent grades in the army, with respect to compensation for their services. In support of this proposition, it has been urged "that the commanders of the American navy are often involved in expenses of serious amount, arising from the very nature of the duties imposed on them by the government;" that "they are subjected to trials by courts-martial, for real or supposed violations of the laws of nations, by themselves or those placed under their command, and, even though acquitted, compelled to encounter consequent expenses, equal in amount to all the pay they have received from the nation for the period of their command. Of the labors attaching to them, it may be said that there is no situation under the government by which they are surpassed. To them their fellow-citizens abroad fly for protection when oppressed, for aid and release when incarcerated in foreign dungeons, and for charity when in distress; they are expected to treat with liberal hospitality, not only the officers of their own ships and squadrons, but to reciprocate the polite attentions and hospitality of foreign officers and governments."

To meet all these demands upon their liberality and pride of country, the government at present grants them the meagre allowance of only two dollars per day in rations.

"When it is considered that scarcely any officer can be expected to reach the period which gives him the command of a national ship-of-war, without having his expenses increased by a family at home, with the consequent expenses necessary for the education of his children, and not unfrequently in giving protection to his fellow-citizens and their property, in places besieged," and that his expenses are multiplied to an enormous degree by the restrictions imposed on intercourse with the sources of supply, it becomes apparent that the compensation made to those officers is inadequate to their necessary support, and below that to which persons holding their high trusts may be considered to be justly entitled.

The bill further provides that there shall be added two grades of rank in the navy, in advance of those which have heretofore been authorized by law.

The proposition embraced by this feature of the bill is one of great interest to the character and discipline of the navy, and, it is hoped, will receive the favorable consideration of Congress.

In support of it, I would respectfully refer to the paper accompanying this, marked A, containing an extract from a communication made by an experienced officer of the navy to this Department, in answer to a call upon him on this point, which presents views in relation to it, derived from sources that none but nautical men could have access to, and which seem to carry with them strong claims to a share in the deliberations of the committee.

After the full exposition which is contained in the communication referred to, it cannot be necessary to urge much more in support of the opinions therein advanced. I would, however, only add, that the distinction which the title of admiral confers, is granted to the commanders of all the navies of other nations, wherever such institutions have flourished; that to this distinction, the American officers have as fair a claim as those in any other service; that it will ensure to the commanders of our squadrons in foreign ports, and on foreign stations, that respect which is readily rendered to rank, but never to mere merit; and that it will present to the rising officers of the navy a point of elevation and honor to be aimed at, but which can only be attained by eminent gallantry and distinguished good conduct. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,

JOHN BRANCH.

The Hon. Robert T. Hayne, Chairman of the Committee on Naval Affairs, Senate U. S.

An act to reorganize the navy of the United States.

Sec. 1. Be it enacted, &c., That the officers of the navy of the United States shall consist of not less than one vice admiral, two rear admirals, thirty captains, thirty masters commandant, two hundred lieutenants, four hundred midshipmen, including those who have passed examination, thirty-five surgeons, fifty assistant surgeons, thirty-five pursers, ten sailingmasters, twenty-four boatswains, twenty-four gunners, twenty-four carpenters and twenty sailmakers. And the President of the United States is hereby authorized and required to reduce the number of officers, at such time or times, within the present year, as he may judge expedient, so that the number of each grade shall not exceed the number herein provided for.

Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That the President of the United States be and he is hereby authorized, whenever the public service may in his judgment require it, to increase the number of each of the classes of officers, below the rank of rear admiral: Provided, the number of the respective classes shall in no case exceed the following, that is to say: forty captains, fifty masters commandant, two hundred and fifty lieutenants, five hundred midshipmen, including those who have passed examination, forty-five surgeons, sixty assistant surgeons, forty pursers, thirty sailingmasters, thirty-five boatswains, thirty-five gunners, thirty-five carpenters and thirty sailmakers.

Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That the following shall be the shore pay, or the pay of officers when not employed in actual service at sea, that is to say: The vice admiral, four thousand five hundred dollars per annum. Each rear admiral, four thousand dollars per annum. Each captain, two thousand five hundred dollars per annum. Each master commandant, one thousand six hundred dollars per annum; and the pay of all other officers shall be as heretofore fixed by law.

Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That the following shall be the sea pay, or the pay of officers when employed in actual service at sea, that is to say: The vice admiral, six thousand dollars. Each rear admiral, five thousand five hundred dollars. A captain, commanding a squadron of two hundred guns, and upwards, five thousand five hundred dollars. A captain, commanding a squadron mounting less than two hundred guns, four thousand five hundred dollars per annum. A captain, commanding a ship of the line, four thousand dollars per annum. A captain, commanding a frigate of the first class, three thousand five hundred dollars per annum. A captain, commanding a frigate of the second class, three thousand two hundred dollars per annum. A master commandant, two thousand five hundred dollars per annum. A lieutenant, commanding a brig or schooner, or acting as first lieutenant of a ship of the line, one thousand six hundred dollars per annum. A first lieutenant of a frigate, one thousand four hundred dollars per annum. A first lieutenant of a sloop-of-war, one thousand three hundred dollars per annum.

--543--

A first lieutenant of a brig or schooner, one thousand two hundred dollars per annum. A sailingmaster of a ship of the line, nine hundred and fifty dollars per annum. A sailingmaster of a frigate, nine hundred dollars per annum A boatswain, gunner, sailmaker, or carpenter, of a ship of the line, seven hundred dollars; of a frigate, six hundred dollars; of a sloop, five hundred dollars per annum. A purser of a ship of the line of the first class, two thousand eight hundred dollars; of a ship of the line of the second class, two thousand five hundred dollars; of a frigate, two thousand dollars; of a sloop-of-war, one thousand six hundred dollars; of a brig or schooner, one thousand three hundred dollars per annum. Which compensations to the pursers shall be paid to them in lieu of all perquisites, emoluments, and profits, heretofore allowed to them; and the pay of all other officers shall be as heretofore fixed by law.

Sec. 5. And be it further enacted, That to each officer who may, under this act, be discontinued on the rolls of the navy, there shall be allowed -----.

Sec. 6. And be it further enacted, That the President of the United States be, and he is hereby, authorized to cause such rules and regulations, not inconsistent with existing laws, as he may judge expedient for the government of the navy, for the promotion of discipline and economy, and the observance of duty in all classes, and for securing the faithful application of funds appropriated for the navy, to be prepared; and such rules and regulations, when approved by him and sanctioned by Congress, shall have the force of law. And to enable the President to carry this provision into full effect, he is hereby further authorized to convene, at such time and place as he may judge expedient, a board of navy officers, of professional experience and intelligence in all branches of the service, and require of such boardcarefully to investigate, and report fully upon the subject; which board shall consist of not less than -----nor more than ----- officers of the navy.

February, 1830.

We have now in service, three frigates of the first class, one frigate of the second class, eleven sloops-of-war, and three schooners.

The following shows the number of officers, at this time, on the rolls of the navy; the minimum number proposed by the bill, and the number of each corps which the bill would discharge from the service, or appoint:

Number on the
rolls.

No. proposed
by the bill.

No. to be discharg'd.

To be appoint'd.

Captains

30

7

Masters commandant

34

30

4

Lieutenants

258

200

58

Midshipmen

476

400

76

Surgeons

39

35

4

Assistant surgeons and acting assistant surgeons

58

50

8

Pursers

42

35

8

Sailingmaster

45

10

35

Boatswains

32

24

8

Gunners

32

24

8

Carpenters

25

24

1

Sailmakers

18

20

2

Officers of rank proposed by the bill to be appointed: One vice admiral, two rear admirals. The following shows the increase of pay proposed by the bill, in the case of each officer:

Sea pay.

Present
pay per
annum.

Proposed
pay.

Increase
in each
case.

Captain commanding a squadron

$2,660 00

$4,500 00

$1,840 00

Captain commanding a ship of the line

1,930 00

4,000 00

2,170 00

Captain commanding 1st class frigate

1,930 00

3,500 00

1,570 00

Captain commanding 2d class frigate

1,930 00

3,200 00

1,270 00

Master commandant

1,176 25

2,500 00

1,323 75

Lieutenant commanding a schooner

1,176 25

1,600 00

423 75

First lieutenant of a ship of the line

965 00

1,600 00

635 00

First lieutenant of a frigate

965 00

1,400 00

435 00

First lieutenant of a sloop

965 00

1,300 00

335 00

First lieutenant of a schooner

965 00

1,200 00

235 00

Master of a ship of the line

662 50

950 00

287 50

Master of a frigate

662 50

900 00

237 50

Boatswain, gunner, carpenter, or sailmaker of a ship of the line

422 50

700 00

277 50

Boatswain, gunner, carpenter, or sailmaker of a frigate

422 50

600 00

177 50

Boatswain, gunner, carpenter, or sailmaker of a sloop

422 50

500 00

77 50

Purser of a ship of the line, 1st class

662 50

2,800 00

2,137 50

Purser of a ship of the line, 2d class

662 50

2,500 00

1,837 50

Purser of a frigate

662 50

2,000 00

1,337 50

Purser of a sloop

662 50

1,600 00

937 50

Purser of a schooner

662 50

1,300 00

637 50

Shore pay.

Captain

1,930 00

2,500 00

570 00

Master commandant

1,176 25

1,600 00

423 75

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In the present state of the service, the bill would have the effect of increasing the pay of the following number and description of officers:

Having four squadrons, each captain commanding a squadron less than 200 guns, would receive, in addition to the pay now allowed by law

$1,840 00

One captain commanding a frigate of the 2d class, would receive

1,270 00

Eleven masters commandant commanding sloops, would receive, each

1,323 75

Three lieutenants commanding schooners, each

423 75

Four first lieutenants of the four frigates, each

435 00

Eleven first lieutenants of the eleven sloops, each

335 00

Three first lieutenants of the three schooners, each

235 00

Sea pay.

Four masters of frigates, each

237 50

Four boatswains, four gunners, four carpenters, and four sailmakers of frigates, each

177 50

Eleven boatswains, eleven gunners, eleven carpenters, and eleven sailmakers of sloops,each

77 50

Four pursers of frigates, each

1,337 50

Eleven pursers of sloops, each

937 50

Three pursers of schooners, each

637 50

Fifteen captains, shore pay, each

570 00

Seven masters commandant, shore pay, each

423 75

The pay of commandants, and masters commandant of yards, and the masters commandant of recruiting stations, is not increased by the bill.

A.

Fiscal effect of the proposed bill.

The reduction in the number of officers will produce the following annual diminution of expense, viz:

 

Each.

Total.

Seven captains of the navy

$1,930 00

$13,410 00

Four masters commandant

1,176 25

4,705 00

Fifty-eight lieutenants

965 00

55,970 00

Seventy-six midshipmen

318 25

24,263 00

Four surgeons, say

1,000 00

4,000 00

Eight assistant surgeons, say

600 00

4,800 00

Eight pursers

662 50 

5,300 00

Thirty-five sailingmasters

662 50

23,187 50

Eight boatswains

22 50 

3,380 00

Eight gunners

422 50

3,380 00

One carpenter

422 50

$142,818 00

B.

The proposed increase will cost, annually, as follows:

 

Each.

Total.

One vice admiral

$4,500 00

Two rear admirals,

$4,000 00

8,000 00

Four captains commanding squadrons

1,840 00

7,360 00

One captain second class frigate

1,270 00

Fifteen captains, shore pay

570 00

8,550 00

Seven masters commandant, shore pay

423 75

2,966 25

Eleven masters commandant, sea pay

1,323 75

14,561 25

Three lieutenants commanding schooners

423 75

1,271 25

Four first lieutenants of frigates

435 00

1,740 00

Eleven first lieutenants of sloops

335 00

3,685 00

Three first lieutenants of schooners

235 00

705 00

Four masters of frigates

237 50

950 00

Four boatswains, four gunners, four carpenters and four sailmakers of frigates, say sixteen

177 50

2,840 00

Eleven boatswains, eleven gunners, eleven carpenters and eleven sailmakers, of sloops, say forty-four

77 50

3,410 00

Four pursers of frigates

1,337 50

5,350 00

Eleven pursers of sloops

937 50

10,312 50

Three pursers of schooners

637 50

1,912 50

Add two sailmakers to the roll

422 50

845 00

$81,028 75

Deduct

800 00

$80,228 75

--545--

In the preceding statement an annual increase of pay is allowed to four captains commanding squadrons, at $1,840 each; that being the difference between thelegal pay of a commodore ($2,660) and the proposed pay ($4,500). It has, however, been usual of late years to allow a commodore $2,000 per annum, in addition to the $2,660; hence, if this be taken into consideration, instead of the bill increasing the expense in this particular, it would actually diminish them $160 in each case, or $640 in the four cases.

The increase in the pay of pursers, amounting in the aggregate to $17,575, will be more than saved by the arrangement proposed with respect to pursers. They have, heretofore, been allowed to charge certain percentages upon slops and other articles sold to the crews. This practice it is proposed to discontinue; and the substitute is, to add 10 per cent. upon the slops issued to the crew: this 10 per cent. will be paid to the government, and thus a saving will arise certainly more than equivalent in amount to the increase of pay proposed for the pursers; while the crews to whom the articles are issued, getting them at reduced prices, will derive an advantage calculated to render the service more agreeable and popular with them.

These considerations, which fairly belong to the estimate, will reduce the amount of the preceding statement $24,935, so that the proposed increase will actually cost only $55,293.75; which sum, deducted from the amount of the proposed reduction, viz., $142,818, will show an annual saving of $87,524.25. Thus—

Amount A

$142,818 00

Deduct B, as explained above

55,293 75

Difference

$87,524 25

The following table shows how much the expense, annually, of each ship of each class, cruising singly, would be increased by the proposed bill:

Ships of the line.

Frigates.

Sloops.

Schooners.

First class.

Second Class.

First class.

Second class.

Captain or commodore

$2,170 00

$2,170 00

$1,570 00

$1,270 00

$1,323 75

$423 75

First lieutenant

287 50

635 00

435 00

435 00

335 00

235 00

Sailingmaster

635 00

287 50

237 50

237 50

Boatswain

277 50

277 50

177 50

177 50

77 50

Gunner

277 50

277 50

177 50

177 50

77 50

Carpenter

277 50

277 50

177 50

177 50

77 50

Sailmaker

277 50

277 50

177 50

177 50

77 50

Purser

2,137 50

1,837 50

1,337 50

1,337 50

937 50

637 50

Total

$6,690 00

$6,390 00

$4,490 00

$4,190 00

$2,906 25

$1,296 25

Extract A.

The fact, that the navy of the United States should have existed for upwards of thirty years without any rank above that of captain, is a circumstance which excites the surprise of all, and the regrets of many. When a peace establishment assigned the navy very narrow limits, the necessity for higher rank, with a view to actual service in fleets or squadrons, was not very great; but a just policy would not have diminished the utility of it on that account: for even then the navy contained several gallant men, who had contributed by their skill, valor, and patriotism, to establish the independence of our country. Early in our Revolutionary war, they were appointed captains: in wars of more recent date, they were captains; and in later years, when the scenes of life were about to close around them, they were still found to be "captains in the navy."

Is it inexpedient in this arm of our national defence, because the navy is more limited in force and numbers than some of the maritime powers of Europe? The contrary policy, it would seem, ought to be adopted; the attention and respect, which it fails to command through a want of force or numbers, should be made up to it by the rank and value of its appointments. Occasions might occur, as have already occurred, where the co-operation with a foreign force, employed for the same objects, would be desirable; this could not take place, in consequence of the lowness of the grade, or rank, of the American commander. Opportunities would thus be lost of effecting valuable results, by the combined efforts of the forces employed by two friendly powers; the inequality of rank in the two commanders forbidding an equality of effort, opinion, and responsibility, in such a union of arms. Occasions may arise, and have occurred even to the limited service of the United States; they may also frequently occur again; and history furnishes numerous instances of foreign powers, engaged in resisting the aggressions of others, when a combination of their forces, only, could effect the objects of their hostility.

If we turn our eyes back to the period of the war with Tripoli, when an inadequate naval force, under an American captain, was sent to chastise that regency for their insults and aggressions, we will find that a similar force, under an admiral, was employed by Sweden, against that regency, for the very same object; neither of which, separately, could or did effect anything, but united, they would have effected everything desired, and in a short time have dictated their own terms to the enemy.

In consequence of the disparity of the rank of the commanders, a union of the two forces was not practicable; for the national honor, and the feelings of an American captain, would not admit of his placing himself, voluntarily, in a relative subordinate situation with others, which no order of the Executive of the United States, or resolution of the national representation, would exact. After a short

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period, the Swedish forces retired from the contest, having made peace by tribute. The United States continued the war a few years longer, nor did they retire under a treaty of peace, until after encountering heavy additional expenses, for continued and increased forces and the loss of one of their finest frigates, the incarceration of her officers and crew for many months, in dungeons, and the expenditure of a considerable sum of money for their final ransom. However little importance we may attach to the subject of precedence or equality in honors, and salutes with foreign nations, it should not be forgotten that even the most inconsiderable maritime powers consider them of too much consequence to be overlooked; consequently, our intercourse and exchange of hospitalities with them are marred, for our commanders are nowhere received on that equality which does not involve a diminution of respect for our country and the honor of our flag. Our captains feel it true; but that feeling is for their country. With one or two nations, a disposition has been evinced to place the captains in command of American squadrons on a footing, in this respect, with the lowest grade of their flag officers. But no American commander could so far forget himself as to receive as a boon from any others that which was denied him by the policy of his own government.

On the subject of necessity and utility for further rank in the navy, it may be observed, such is the deterioration of its discipline, to such an equality have the higher grades in it arrived, with perhaps only a few days' difference in their appointments, or at least amongst many of them, to mark and define their relative respects, rights, and authority, that it would seem absolutely necessary to the future welfare and efficiency of the marine, as well as to preserve it on that high eminence to which its deeds in arms had raised it. If we revert to the periods past when the navy of this nation stood high in the estimation of many, and was surpassed by none for its chivalry, gallantry, and discipline; when its ranks were constituted a band of brothers; when the proudest feelings of the highest officer were elicited by an order to conduct the national flag into foreign seas; if we look at the present, how sadly is it reversed. We behold them now, no longer proud of orders for foreign service, but strenuously urging claims to stations on shore, and even preferring inactivity to the command of the finest ships.

By the past policy of refusing rank and emolument to the navy, with the officers under the obligation to submit to orders, and the Executive under the necessity to give them for the public good, our captains are placed in commands which impose responsibilities, labors, duties, and consequences, that neither their rank justifies, nor their emoluments compensate for; if we ask, what are those responsibilities? It is answered, the conduct, the preservation, the order and efficiency, of not only the vessels they command themselves, but those of whole fleets, as well as the conduct of their commanders. The law requires that they should visit them frequently and see for themselves, that they should supply them efficiently with everything essential, and be held responsible for their economy; and we have already had instances, where losses have arisen from the detention or capture of vessels, by a vessel attached to a squadron, in which the courts of the United States have not hesitated to give damages against, not the commander of the vessel, but the captain commanding the squadron.

The increase of the national marine forces—the necessity of employing a large portion of them as a school for the instruction, on professional points, of the young officers, and the protection of our rights and interests abroad—the increased numbers comprising its grades—the support of order, efficiency, and discipline—not only call for further rank and justify it, but absolutely require it. In justice to the officers, they ought to be placed on a footing with those of foreign nations. It is due to their past efforts, gallantry, and skill, to their hazards and deprivations; and only right that duties and responsibilities should not be imposed on them, which neither their rank nor commission naturally requires.

The most simple justice demands that they should be better compensated, to enable them to support themselves abroad as American commanders, and their families at home as husbands and fathers. A nation, whose marine has acquired a reputation throughout the world, ought to have no means withheld to enable it to sustain, for the national benefit, that reputation. It requires much to gain reputation, but more to sustain it. Like that beautiful specimen of architecture, raised by the munificence and patriotism of the citizens of a not far distant city, to sustain the statue of the immortal Washington: to elevate that statue to the monumental summit, required but slender spars and cords; but to sustain it there, for ages yet to come, requires all the strength and solidity of the monument.