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21st Congress.]  

No. 416.

[1st Session.

ON THE EXPEDIENCY OF DISPENSING WITH THE MARINE CORPS AS PART OF THE ARMED EQUIPMENT OF A VESSEL-OF-WAR.

COMMUNICATED TO THE SENATE MARCH 24, 1830.

Navy Department, March 23, 1830.

Sir:

In compliance with the resolution of the Senate of the United States, of the 1st instant, I have the honor to present the opinions, in writing, of the officers composing the navy board, and other naval officers now at the seat of government, to whom reference had been made on the subject.

In addition to these, there is also transmitted a letter from Lieutenant M'Keever, containing an extract of a letter from Captain Conner, commanding the United States sloop-of-war Erie , which had been fitted out without the usual allotment of marines, expressly with a view to test (to the extent of the experiment,) the expediency of dispensing with the employment of marines "as a part of the armed equipment of a vessel-of-war."

In the reports made by the officers on this point, there appears to be much diversity of opinion; but, as each has assigned his reasons for his own especial views on the subject, a consideration of them will furnish the best guide to a correct decision of the question; which, being strictly professional, can only be settled by reference to the weight of testimony brought forward in support of either side, by men practically experienced in the details of the points contested.

In reply to the inquiry, "whether the petty officers and seamen who have been in service, but from age, or slight disabilities are rendered unfit for the active duties of their calling on ship-board, can be usefully and safely employed as guards to the navy stations, in lieu of the marines now assigned to that duty," there can be little hesitation in admitting the affirmative of the proposition.

The duty of guarding naval stations may, without doubt, be well performed by veteran seamen, too far worn out to encounter the active labors necessary at sea, but sufficiently strong to discharge such as would be required of them in this service; and the fidelity of this class of persons may be regarded as worthy of the most perfect confidence.

One additional advantage which would result from the employment of the partially disabled and worn out seamen as proposed, "would be the great relief which such employment would afford to the navy pension and hospital funds, now the only refuge of the veteran seaman in his old age and infirmities.

Whatever doubt there may be on the first subjects of inquiry contained in the resolution, there can be little as to the propriety of adopting the plan suggested, of substituting the partially disabled petty officers and seamen as guards at the navy stations, in lieu of the marine force now entrusted with the discharge of that duty.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,

JOHN BRANCH.

The Hon. John C. Calhoun, Vice-President U. S. and President of the Senate.

No. 1.

Commandant's Office, Navy Yard, Washington, March 5, 1830.

Sir:

I have had the honor to receive your communication of the 3d instant, covering a resolution of the Senate of the United States, of the 1st instant, calling for information relative to the necessity for employing marines on board our vessels-of-war, and whether seamen may not be usefully substituted in their place, &c., and requesting that I would furnish you, in conformity with the terms of the resolution, with my opinion, in writing, upon the different points embraced by it. Having been associated with many of the officers of the marine corps, in peace and in war, and entertaining the highest respect for many of them as gentlemen and officers, I cannot but regret that I should be called upon to give an opinion which may operate to their prejudice, if adopted; but in compliance with your official request, I proceed to answer the first interrogatory, "Whether it is necessary to the armed equipment of a vessel-of-war, that marines should compose a part of its military force?" I do not consider it necessary to the

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armed equipment of a vessel-of-war, that marines should compose a part of its military force. To the second interrogatory, "Whether marines may not be usefully dispensed with, and a portion of the seamen be instructed in the use of small arms, and perform all duties which can be required of marines, either in battle or in ordinary service?" It is my opinion that marines may be usefully dispensed with. I am fully convinced they are not necessary to the good order of a ship's company. The sailor looks with a jealous eye upon men taken from the same station with himself, and invested with authority over him: excepting while on guard, the marines are mingled with the sailors, and their jealousies and prejudices give rise to endless quarrels between them. A portion of the seamen, or ordinary seamen, can be instructed in the use of small arms, and can perform all the duties which can be required of marines, either in battle or in ordinary service. By substituting landsmen for marines, taking care that none be received but young, able-bodied Americans, our navy would furnish a great additional number of seamen beyond what it has heretofore done. To the third interrogatory, "Whether seamen are not now instructed and practiced in the use of small arms?" By the present regulations, a portion of the seamen are directed to be instructed in the use of small arms; and by substituting ordinary seamen for marines, a much larger portion of the crew would be instructed and practiced in the use of small arms, than has been usual heretofore. To the fourth interrogatory, "Whether the petty officers and seamen who have been in service, but, from age or slight disabilities, are rendered unfit for the active duties of their calling on ship-board, can be usefully and safely employed as guards at the navy stations, in lieu of the marines now assigned to that duty?" It is my opinion that there are many petty officers and seamen now in the service, and many who have served in our ships-of-war, who are, from old age and other causes, unfit for the active duties of the service, but who might be usefully and safely employed as watchmen or guards at the navy stations, in lieu of the marines now assigned to that duty; and, by such an arrangement, provision would be made for those who have served honestly and faithfully, for many years, and would show to the petty officers and seamen that, for long and faithful services, they would be rewarded.

With very great respect, I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

ISAAC HULL.

Hon. John Branch, Secretary of the Navy, Washington.

No. 2.

Navy Commissioners' Office, March 6, 1830.

Sir:

I have had the honor to receive, and now comply with the circular of the 3d instant, which enclosed the copy of a resolution of the Senate respecting the marine corps.

To the first inquiry I beg leave to state, as my opinion, that marines are not a necessary component part of the crews of our vessels-of-war, for which various reasons might be assigned, but it is not considered necessary to enumerate them.

To the second inquiry, "Whether marines may not usefully be dispensed with," &c., &c., I answer affirmatively, from the experience of my professional life.

Twenty years ago, I was led to reflect seriously upon their utility on board ship, and became satisfied that they were superfluous, and each succeeding year has strengthened this conclusion.

Seamen have been always trained to the use of small arms (a portion of them at least), and, having shown themselves exceedingly expert at loading and firing, I can see no good reason against their substitution for marines. Voluntary enlistments and short engagements, punctually fulfilled by the government, by rendering the seamen of our navy contented and subordinate, have removed all necessity for the continuance of this corps, which was, I apprehend, originally established on account of its existence in the English navy, whence we also derived our regulations and laws.

To the remaining inquiry, I give also an affirmative answer, and my most hearty assent, as I have long thought our navy yards would be better protected by seamen than any other species of guard, their interests and their feelings leading them, in an especial manner, to this duty.

The moral effect of such an arrangement as this inquiry embraces would be great and salutary upon the seamen, by producing exertion and emulation, with the consciousness such situations (to them alike desirable and honorable) would be only given to the faithful and meritorious.

It may not be amiss to add, that the efficiency of musketry in naval warfare has been decreasing for the last sixty years, in nearly equal proportion to the increased efficiency of naval gunnery; and in proof of this, the disuse of swivels, blunderbusses, grenades, and such fire-arms as do execution but at a short distance, may be considered conclusive.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, sir, your most obedient servant,

L. WARRINGTON.

Honorable John Branch, Secretary of the Navy.

No. 3.

Navy Commissioners' Office, March 9, 1830.

Sir:

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication, under date of the 3d instant, covering a copy of a resolution of the Senate of the United States, of the 1st instant, requiring my opinion, in writing, upon the different points embraced by it, which I have now the honor to submit:

First. "Whether it is necessary to the armed equipment of a vessel-of-war, that marines should compose a part of its military force?" It is my opinion, and has for some time past so been, that it is not necessary to the equipment of a vessel-of-war in our navy, that marines should compose a part of its military force.

Second. "Or whether marines may not usefully be dispensed with, and a portion of the seamen be instructed in the use of small arms, and perform all duties which can be required of marines, either in

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battle or in ordinary service?" From the foregoing impression, I think marines may be dispensed with, and an equal number of landsmen be shipped in their place, who should (as they now are instructed in the use of small arms) perform the duties which are now required of marines, either in battle or in ordinary service, by which that additional number of men would be gained for the general duties of the ship, from which the marines are, in many cases, now exempted, and an increase of seamen be formed for the navy.

Third. "Whether seamen are not instructed and practiced in the use of small arms?" The seamen, or whole ship's crew, are now instructed in the use of small arms. The great change in the construction of our ships-of-war, of each class, of late years, is such that musketry cannot be advantageously used, in consequence of the height of the bulwarks, which are too high to fire over, except at such an elevation as to render the fire of musketry useless; and to place marines on the poops, top-gallant forecastles, or in the boats, would be murderous, as exposing them, without any protection, to the fire of the enemy.

Fourth. "Whether the petty officers and seamen who have been in service, but, from age or slight disabilities, are rendered unfit for the active duties of their calling on ship-board, can be usefully and safely employed as guards at the naval stations, in lieu of the marines now assigned to that duty?" In my opinion, petty officers and seamen who have been in the naval service, and who, from age or slight inabilities, are rendered unfit for the active duties of their profession, can be usefully and safety employed as guards or watchmen at all our navy yards, in lieu of marines.

To derive the benefit which may result to the naval service from the change herein suggested, it will be necessary that the government should strictly perform their part of the contract entered into with the seamen when they are shipped into the service, viz., that of discharging them in the United States, and at the expiration of their term of service.

All of which is respectfully submitted, by your obedient servant,

DAN'L T. PATTERSON, Capt. U. S. Navy.

Hon. John Branch, Secretary of the Navy, Washington.

No. 4.

Washington, March 6, 1830.

Sir:

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your "circular" of the 3d instant, with a copy of a resolution of the Senate of the United States, of the 1st instant, enclosed.

I do not believe it is necessary to the armed equipment of a vessel-of-war that marines should compose a part of its military force. I do believe that marines may be usefully dispensed with, and a portion of the seamen be instructed in the use of small arms, and perform all duties which can be required of marines, either in battle or ordinary service.

A part of the ship's companies in our navy are now instructed and practiced in the use of small arms; and I believe marines may be beneficially dispensed with on board of our public vessels-of-war.

Experience has satisfied me that our countrymen discover such an aptness and dexterity in the use of small arms, that, with moderate practice, the seamen would be able to employ to advantage this species of arms, whenever it might be necessary. I feel assured they can perform all the duties of guards and sentinels as well as marines, and that the aid of the regular soldier may be dispensed with on board our vessels-of-war.

I do believe that the petty officers and seamen who have been in service, but, from age or slight disabilities, are rendered unfit for the active duties of their calling on ship-board, can be usefully and safely employed as guards at the navy stations, in lieu of the marines now assigned that duty.

And I also believe, that, if the prospect is held out to the petty officers and seamen of the navy, of obtaining these situations in their declining age, or when slightly disabled, it will have the most beneficial effect on their habits and morals, and stimulate them to acquire a good character. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,

W. M. CRANE, Captain in the Navy.

Hon. John Branch, Secretary of the Navy, Washington.

No. 5.

Washington, March 5, 1830.

Sir:

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your circular of the 3d instant, covering a resolution of the Senate of the United States. I shall proceed to reply to the several interrogatories proposed by that honorable body, in the order in which they stand.

To the first, I answer, that it is not necessary to the armed" equipment of a vessel-of-war that marines should compose a part of its military force; and they may be usefully dispensed with. A portion of the seamen are already, by existing regulations, instructed in the use of small arms, and could perform all the duty required of marines, either in battle or in ordinary service.

To the second, I answer as above stated, that seamen are at present instructed in the use of small arms. I also assert that marines can be beneficially dispensed with, because the ordinary duty required of them at sea is that of mere pulling and hauling the rigging in working ship, which can as well be done by ordinary seamen or landsmen, who would, in addition, be employed aloft, and thus trained to seamanship. It must be borne in mind, that in introducing marines on board of our ships-of-war, we have followed the usage of the British, who have been impelled to this measure by the fact that their crews have been impressed, and thus rendered insubordinate and refractory. The voluntary enlistment of our seamen, and their known attachment to the service, necessarily obviate that necessity on our part.

The marines are dressed, when in port, in full uniform, every day; they are exempt from all duty, except that which grows out of the posting of sentinels, and other objects of mere pageantry. The arduous duties of watering and provisioning, the transportation of the stores, the boat duty, in all

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weather and in all climates, devolve on the seaman alone; and the comparison which they draw between the toils and privations they endure, and the indolent occupations of the marines, is a continual source of bitter recrimination.

To the third, I reply, that I am decidedly of the opinion that petty officers and seamen who have faithfully served on ship-board, and whose age and disabilities may have rendered them unfit for active service afloat, would be preferable as guards at the several naval stations. Such employments would seem to be a just recompense for long and faithful services; and, in addition to their duties as guards, they could render themselves useful by various occupations incident to a dock yard.

Having thus answered the several queries contained in the resolutions, I will take leave further to remark, that, if landsmen were substituted for marines, the country would annually be adding to her stock of seamen, who, from a variety of causes, have degenerated and become scarce.

In a course of thirty years of service I have never known a marine to become a seaman; their ambition is directed to other objects, and when they are discharged from the naval service, either seek the ranks of the army, or are lost in the pursuits of private life.

Marines then are not necessary, either in peace or war, and the advantages which would accrue by their being replaced by young ordinary seamen or landsmen, is to my mind irresistible and conclusive. All of which is respectfully submitted by your obedient servant,

CHARLES G. RIDGELEY.

To the honorable Secretary of the Navy.

No. 6.

Georgetown, March 9, 1830.

Sir:

Having the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter covering a copy of the resolutions adopted in the Senate of the United States on the first instant, I proceed with great deference to express my opinions upon the general question, "Whether marines can or cannot be beneficially dispensed with on board of our public vessels-of-war, and at our naval stations, and upon the best practical mode of supplying their places." In communicating the sentiments suggested by my experience and reflection, permit me to say that they have forced themselves upon me in spite of a high respect for the marine corps of our country, whose officers are eminently distinguished for professional ability and valor.

The ordinary duty of a marine is that of a sentinel, a duty which certainly must be performed by some one, though its discharge requires little more than fidelity and resolution. If this duty can be readily and safely confided to a portion of the crew of the vessel, if it can be united with the other duties of the seamen, then the marines may be usefully dispensed with. My opinion is, and long has been, that in the navy of the United States such is the fact.

The capacity to use small arms promptly and efficiently is necessary to the sentinel; it is in a measure necessary to all engaged on board of armed vessels. A portion of every crew is therefore instructed and exercised to that end; and the manner in which this has heretofore been done leaves with me no room to doubt that the substitution of seamen, instead of marines, would in no respect whatever diminish the security, precision, or punctuality of the guard.

The marine on board of our public vessels-of-war is incompetent to the discharge of any part of the seaman's duty. He never evinces the least disposition to acquire a knowledge of the profession, and is never sent aloft. He composes part of the regular watch, and may be employed in hauling ropes; but further than this he would justly consider transcending the line of his peculiar service.

Hence there is a broad distinction between him and the sailor; a source of much dispute, and often of contemptuous disparagement.

It would be better to have a class of men equally competent to perform the parts of marines and seamen; in other words, to train seamen to the duties of marines, to which certainly there is no incompatibility in their customary employments.

I am induced to believe that our seamen would cheerfully and proudly undertake this additional burthen; would feel honored by the confidence reposed in them and gratified by having as their sentinels those whom their prejudices would compel them to respect.

Steam navigation, by occupying our bays and rivers, has gradually produced a want of seamen. The nurseries which heretofore were found in our river craft, and which annually prepared numbers to embrace the sea as a profession, has now scarcely any existence. Ought we not then to adopt some plan by which we may supply the deficiency of this former and failing source? And is not such a plan discernible in providing, in lieu of marines, ordinary seamen, landsmen and boys, on board our public vessels? At present we employ and provide for many men who never can be serviceable as seamen; their places might be filled by those who are destined to that pursuit, and who would thus undergo, as it were, a novitiate, preparatory to the hardiest and most essential duties.

In guarding and protecting the public property at the navy yards, old and slightly disabled petty officers and seamen are certainly as efficient, and may be made much more useful than marines. The marine, unless actually on duty as sentinel, is idle.

He is not competent to the ordinary work going on in the yard. Not so with petty officers and seamen; the rigging loft, the sail loft, &c., offer almost constant occupation, tending to advance the interest or husband the means of the government.

I cannot conclude without expressing the opinion that the employment of marines onboard of vessels-of-war is to be ascribed to a reason that does not apply to the naval service of the United States. Where seamen engage voluntarily, and are not forced by impressment, the necessity of placing a species of foreign guard over their conduct does not exist; as. the willing servants of a free country they are as fit to be trusted as soldiers on land. Discipline is necessary for both, but that discipline should be enforced by the same officers who understand and direct their duties, with the aid of men drawn from their own ranks. The marine is worthier of confidence than the seaman only when the latter is dragged and compelled to serve, and therefore presumed ready for mutiny or desertion.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. J. DALLAS, Captain United States Navy.

To the honorable John Branch, Secretary of the Navy, Washington.

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No. 7.

Baltimore, March 6, 1830.

Sir:

At a moment when Congress is asking for information in reference to the utility or inutility of marines on board our ships-of-war, everything tending to elucidate the subject must be somewhat interesting; and I trust I may therefore be held excusable in troubling you with this letter, and the following extract of one which I have just received from Master Commandant Conner, dated off Havana, January 30th, and which I send you from an impression that the Department may not as yet have received his official report on this subject, so replete with interest to the navy. The Erie , it is known, sailed from Norfolk sometime in October last, with, instead of the usual marine guard, a proportional number of landsmen; in relation to which he says:

"Should the marine corps be separated from the navy, you will, in a very short time, hear every officer in command expressing his astonishment why such an absurdity had been so long tolerated. I often hear my officers remark, how much better we get along without marines, than if they were on board; and my own opinion is, my ship is decidedly more efficient for the purposes she was intended, as her crew is now constituted, than if she was encumbered with a marine guard. Although neither personally nor morally what may be termed a good crew, yet fewer instances of disorderly conduct, requiring my interference, have occurred on board this ship, than any I have ever served in. In fact, in no one instance since I have been in command of her, have I felt the necessity of a marine guard."

My own experience, on several occasions when I was in command and doing duty without marines, fully confirms the remarks of Captain Conner; for, so far from ever witnessing the necessity of a marine guard on board a ship, the fact of there being none always seemed to impart increased ardor and good conduct to the seamen; so that I feel constrained to believe, both from observation and reflection, that, by substituting, under proper regulations, landsmen in lieu of marines, the naval service of our country will be, throughout, greatly benefited, its ships rendered more efficient, a means afforded of increasing the number of seamen, and their general character and condition improved in every respect.

I have the honor to be, with the most profound respect and consideration, sir,

Tour obedient, humble servant,

J. M. KEEVER.

The Hon. John Branch, Secretary of the Navy.

No. 8.

"Washington, March 8, 1830.

Sir:

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your circular letter of the 3d instant, enclosing a copy of the resolution of the Senate of the United States, calling for information on the following points, viz:

1. Whether it is necessary to the armed equipment of a vessel-of-war, that marines should compose a part of its military force.

2. Whether marines may not usefully be dispensed with, and a portion of the seamen instructed in the use of small arms, and perform all the duties which can be required of marines, either in battle or in ordinary service.

3. Whether seamen are not now instructed and practiced in the use of small arms, and, generally, any information which may elucidate the inquiry whether marines cannot be beneficially dispensed with, on board our public vessels-of-war.

4. Whether petty officers and seamen who have been in service, but from age and slight disabilities are rendered unfit for the active duties of their calling on ship-board, can be usefully and safely employed as guards at the navy stations, in lieu of the marines now assigned to that duty.

My opinion upon these points, which I submit in the order in which they are presented in the resolution, isó

1st. That marines, or men to perform the duties of marines, should compose a part of the military force of our ships of war.

2d. I do not think that marines could be usefully dispensed with on board our ships-of-war; for, notwithstanding seamen may be instructed in the use of small arms, so as to perform equally well all the duties required of marines in battle, yet, in the performance of the ordinary service, such as relates to the preservation of the police of the ship, and her military and warlike appearance, I should think marines preferable to seamen.

3d. On board of all our ships, a number of seamen corresponding to the rate of the ship, (say, about 250 in a ship of the line, 120 to 150 in a frigate, 60 to 70 in a sloop-of-war, and more than half the whole crew of a schooner) are practiced in the use of small arms. I would further observe, that although I do not think it advisable to dispense with the services of marines on board our ships-of-war, yet, that the numbers with which they have heretofore been supplied, might, to advantage, be reduced one-fourth, provided an equal number of seamen, or ordinary seamen, be substituted.

4th. From among the petty officers and seamen who have been a length of time in the service, but who, from age and slight disabilities, have been rendered unfit for the active duties of their profession, there are many to be found who could be usefully and safely employed as guards at the several navy stations, in lieu of the marines assigned to that duty. The difference in the expense of guarding our navy yards by watchmen, instead of marines, would probably be not less than sixty thousand dollars in favor of the former. But as it would be necessary to provide for contingencies occurring to marines employed at sea, we should keep in the service on shore a number equal to one-fourth or one-fifth of the whole number so employed; and in this view it would be advisable that one or two of our yards, to which our ships most frequently resort for repairs and equipment, should be guarded by marines, provided they are subjected, like those at sea, to naval law.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, sir, your most obedient servant,

JOHN RODGERS.

Hon. John Branch, Secretary of the Navy.

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No. 9.

Washington, March 4, 1830.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your circular of the 3d instant, enclosing a resolution of the United States Senate, respecting the employment of marines on board the ships of our navy, and at the navy yards. In reply thereto, I respectfully give it is my opinion, that it is best to employ marines on board our vessels-of-war in commission, in the proportion of from one-tenth to one-twelfth of the complement allowed to each class of vessels.

A proportion (from one-fourth to one-fifth) of the seamen, ordinary seamen, landsmen and boys, attached to our ships-of-war, are always exercised at the small arms, and they go through the manual of loading and firing generally well; but I do not think they would be advantageously substituted to discharge all the duties which marines on board ship have to perform.

I am also of opinion that the services of the marines at our navy yards could be dispensed with, and a substitute found in watchmen taken from the citizens, or by a judicious selection of those who have faithfully served as petty officers and seamen in the navy. That there would be a great saving in the expense for protection of the yards by adopting the substitute I have not the least doubt. But, should the marines be retained for that duty, they ought to be put exclusively under the laws for the government of the navy, and subject to orders as when doing duty on board ship.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,

WM. BAINBRIDGE.

Honorable John Branch, Secretary of the Navy.

No. 10.

Washington, March 8, 1830.

Sir: I have had the honor to receive your letter of the 3d instant, covering a resolution of the Senate of the United States, relative to the marine corps, requiring information on the following points:

First. Whether it is necessary that "marines should compose a part of the military force of a ship-of-war?"

To this I answer that I do conceive them proper and necessary to constitute a part of the crew of a ship-of-war.

Second. "Whether marines may not usefully be dispensed with, and a portion of the seamen be instructed in the use of small arms, and perform all the duties which may be required of marines in battle or on ordinary service?"

To this I answer that for the mere purposes of battle perhaps the seamen might be instructed, in a limited degree, in the use of small arms.

Third. "Whether seamen are not now instructed and practiced in the use of small arms?"

To this I answer that a portion of the crew (other than the marines) are now, and always have been, instructed and practiced in the use of small arms; but that instruction and practice is very limited, as it necessarily must be.

Fourth. "Whether the petty officers and seamen who have been in service, but, from age or slight disabilities are rendered unfit for active duties of their calling on shipboard, can be usefully and safely employed as guards at the navy stations in lieu of marines?"

To this I answer I think not; but as I have never had any command or control over a navy yard or station I cannot speak to this question from actual experience. The foregoing answers would seem to comprise all the honorable the Senate of the United States require on this subject; and it would not have been proper to go farther were it not for that part of their third question, requiring also any general information in elucidation of the object of the resolution "whether marines can, or cannot, be beneficially dispensed with on board our public ships-of-war?"

Under this clause I would beg leave to remark that the marines are the only portion of the crew of a ship-of-war that is wholly military, and the only part which could be rendered such, by the nature of the service, as well as the nature of those comprising the other classes. If, then, it is at all desirable or useful to have a portion of the force of a ship-of-war wholly and completely military, that portion must be composed of a regular organized infantry, for this reason: that the sea officers, from their employments and occupations in ships-of-war, differ materially from military officers, because the ideas and general habits of sailors unfit them, in a great measure, for infantry soldiers; and because the limited space in a ship-of-war would not admit of their training, and their general duty and employment would be too much deranged and interfered with. In order to ascertain the necessity and utility of having a portion of the crew of a ship-of-war organized as infantry, it will be necessary to inquire into the object and duties of such a corps.

The first object is to instil into them these sound military principles, obedience, subordination, and respect, that they may be entitled to confidence in the discharge of their duties as sentinels, to watch over your magazines, spirit rooms, store rooms, gangways, galley, and look-outs; to preserve order and prevent interruption to the cooking duties, and to guard your prisoners of war, who sometimes outnumber the crew. In port they constitute the deck guard, and at sea they are (at least a large proportion of them) always near their arms; thus they prevent surprise from without, and check mutiny within. In the ordinary duties at sea the marine watch perform the same duties on deck which would be required of any other body of men, except going aloft, consequently their usefulness and force as men are not lost, for there must be some men kept on deck, in reefing and furling, to haul the rigging, and manage the cordage for those who are aloft. In battle, when the ship is engaged on both sides, or when otherwise necessary, they can be distributed among the carriage guns, for working the artillery. Should any operations, wholly military, be required of them on shore, they would be more efficient and competent to its performance; should the combined efforts of seamen and marines be required for the surprise of posts, or the escalade of a fortress, the marines, as a supporting column of regular infantry, would form a disciplined body, whereon to rest the security of the other classes who are appointed to make the grand effort, and would

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yield them a steady column and military support in case of failure, when they would constitute the reserve, and cover the retreat and embarkation of the seamen. The latter are a class of men whose onset and first efforts are tremendous and formidable; but if resisted and discomfited they break into a hundred groups, which cannot be rallied, and they become a mere mob, who, without a body of regulars to sustain them, must fall sacrifice. Seamen have a particular aversion to the infantry drill, and, generally speaking, can be brought to little more in that art than to load and fire; that strict subordination and obedience to orders, and the pride of feeling, intuitive in a regular soldier, cannot be attained by a seaman; hence the entire confidence of the officers, for the performance of the ordinary duties on posts, cannot be yielded them; frequent punishments would ensue for neglect and irregularities, and disgust to the service would follow. But, sir, there is another evil in attempting to make marines of sailors: the scarcity of seamen, and ordinary seamen, would embarrass more and more the manning of our ships-of-war, if those who act as marines are substituted from the other classes. To take them from landsmen, no advantage would be gained, as regards the increased nautical efficiency of our ships; but much would be lost with respect to the military portionówe should have the men, without the seaman's or the soldier's profession. In the above observations, I have referred to the possibility of mutiny in our national ships-of-war; that mutiny has occurred in our navy, there is no doubt. One instance took place on board the Constitution , in the Bay of Leghorn, in the year 1807. The mutiny broke out, I think, in July, and was near becoming serious. By the formidable appearance of a column of marine bayonets, supported by nearly a hundred gallant officers armed, it was not only suppressed, but twenty of the ringleaders were secured, and sent home in the ship, ironed, for punishment; but the government deemed it most advisable not to punish them, as they were right, and the commander was wrong. It appeared that the period for which the men had engaged, had expired. This practice of keeping the ships-of-war absent beyond the period for which their crews are engaged, is becoming a fruitful source for mutiny. Commanders, anxious to execute all the objects of the government, in sending them abroad, lose sight of their obligations to obey the law, thereby rendering themselves liable to encounter death at sea, in the shape of mutiny, and civil prosecutions on shore, for detaining their men beyond the period for which they engaged. Their paramount duty is to return to the United States, and discharge their crews, after they had faithfully performed their part of the contract; that the government should as faithfully perform theirs, by returning them to their country and homes, and not suffering them to be discharged pennyless in distant seas, to encounter starvation, or to beg, or become pirates.

Very many persons are under the impression that most of the mutinies in the British navy originate in their practice of impressment; but I believe there is scarcely an instance of the kind on record. Their mutinies originate in oppression, and not in impressment. I also believe there is no case where the marines, as a body, participated in the mutiny of the seamen. If we refer to the very serious mutiny of the channel fleet at the Nore, in 1797, I think we will find, (I speak from impressions on the memory only) that nothing was stated by the mutineers, as a grievance for redress on the part of the impressed men, except that sentence of death for desertion, committed by an impressed man, was urged on the King as too severe a punishment; and those who volunteered for the service, and took the bounty, insisted on being discharged every seven years. About the same period, a bloody mutiny took place on board the British frigate, the Hermoine , on the West India station. This mutiny originated in the oppression and tyranny of the commander on that occasion. All the officers (except a master's mate) encountered death. Captain Pigot, the commander of that ship, was of such a tyrannical and intemperate disposition, as to wholly disqualify him for the command of men. If mutinies have not more frequently occurred in our ships-of-war, it has been owing to the mildness of our commanders, the good feelings of the seamen towards their officers, and the support afforded the latter, by a steady column of bayonets. There are some who will say, that marines are useless except for idle parade. But even form and parade in a military system are perhaps more essential, in aid of the preservation of discipline amongst republican citizens, than with the subjects of a King.

The whole business of life may be considered a little more than bent, so far as the desire of distinction goes, towards appearances. Men are, at best, but grown-up children, "pleased with a rattle, tickled with a straw." Take from military service its distinguishing trappings, the possible "pomp and circumstance of war," the probable vote of thanks of the national legislature, and what will then be left them to aid their patriotism, in calling forth the whole energies of the man, to support them in the perils of the battle and the ocean, the deprivations of their homes and its comforts?

If we refer to the past services of the marine corps, they will be found to be among the most distinguished. Whether you take them at the charge of the bayonet, in unison with the seamen wielding the sabre and the pike, boarding the gunboats off Tripoli, in their various actions on the ocean, or in their efforts with the seamen under Barney in resisting the advance of the British columns to your capital, you will find they have ever sustained a high reputation for discipline, conduct, and courage. Under these circumstances, I am decidedly of opinion, that the marines cannot be beneficially dispensed with in our national ships-of-war.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, sir, your most obedient servant,

CHARLES STEWART.

The Hon. John Branch, Secretary of the Navy.

No. 11.

Washington, March 6, 1830.

Sir: In compliance with the request of your circular of the 3d instant, I have to state, that it is my opinion that marines should be employed in our ships-of-war, and should compose about a twelfth of the crews; provided that they are disciplined at the barracks, and not sent on board unacquainted with the use of small arms, as has been much the practice. If they are to be drilled on board, as such practice makes necessary, I should prefer substituting our ordinary seamen.

Seamen, ordinary seamen, and the larger boys, are instructed in the use of small arms, to the number of about one-fourth of the crew, so that our frigates have a company of one hundred and twenty musket men, well trained to load and fire, exclusive of the marines.

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I have no experience respecting navy yards; but believe that our old petty officers could be employed to guard them well. Many of those officers are faithful and sober men.

I have the honor to be, respectfully, yours, JA. JONES.

The Hon. John Branch, Secretary of the Navy.

No. 12.

Washington, March 6, 1830.

Sir:

Your circular of the third instant, enclosing a resolution of the Senate propounding several interrogatories relative to the marine corps, has been received, and, agreeably to your request, I offer the following opinion:

That a marine guard on board our ships-of-war can be usefully employed, provided the guard be composed of young and sound men, well drilled in all the necessary exercises, and placed under the command of an experienced officer. But without strict attention to such regulations, it would be advantageous to the navy to dispense altogether with marines, and depend on our ordinary seamen. In some of our ships-of-war it is the practice to instruct all the ship's company in the use of small arms, in others, only a portion of them; but I am of opinion that seamen can never be made to perform the duties now assigned to marines, with the same steadiness and precision as a well-regulated and disciplined guard.

Marines, when serving in navy yards, should be subject to the laws for the government of the navy; otherwise, I would prefer watchmen selected from citizens, or old and trustworthy petty officers.

Finally, I am of opinion that the discipline of the navy would be promoted by causing the marine guard, on board of sloops-of-war, to be commanded by non-commissioned officers. This arrangement would give more room in the "ward rooms," and, as the guard on board this class of vessels cannot give employment to a commissioned officer, he might be more advantageously disposed of.

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. ORDE CREIGHTON.

To the Hon. John Branch, Secretary of the Navy.

No. 13.

Washington, March 6, 1830.

Sir:

In reply to your interrogatories, embraced in the resolution of the Senate which you did me the honor to submit for my opinion, I beg leave to state:

1st. That I conceive it of the utmost importance to the armed equipment of a vessel-of-war, that marines compose a part of its military force.

2d. I conceive that this arm of the service cannot be usefully dispensed with; nor do I believe that any system of instruction will enable seamen to perform those duties peculiarly appertaining to soldiers, and which, from many causes, they are reluctant in the extreme to perform. In battle, their services are required in the management of the ship and the guns, and cannot be usefully applied to any other department.

3d. It is true that seamen in our vessels-of-war are under a certain degree of instruction in the use of small arms; they are, however, impatient under this instruction, and I have hardly ever known them to attain a tolerable degree of skill in their use. I do not conceive that the importance of marines in ships-of-war is confined to this particular part of their duty. They are the great and efficient organs of the police of those vessels; their interests are distinct from those of the seamen; nor have they any inducements to make common cause with them. Hence, in cases of mutiny, shipwreck, &c., they are the chief reliance of the officersóand I believe there is but one instance on record, (the mutiny at the Nore, which was properly more of a revolution than a mutiny,) in which they have not, under such circumstances, rallied around the officers, and been the efficient means of restoring and preserving good order and discipline.

4th. I do not think that petty officers, who, from age and slight disabilities, are rendered unfit for active duties of their calling on ship-board, can be usefully or safely employed as guards "at the navy stations." These duties are only proper for the young and robust. Another objection to their being employed arises, in my mind, from a long and close observation of their habits and characteristics, which are so peculiar as to impress me with the conviction that in no case are they calculated to act as sentinels, and to perform, (to them,) the obnoxious duties of a soldier. Old seamen, who are unfit for the active discharge of the duties required of a man-of-war's-man, I think may be usefully employed on board of receiving vessels, and in navy yards.

In submitting these opinions, I must nevertheless say, that the efficiency of this force will be always in a measure impaired, and the harmony of the service jeopardized, if it is not solely, and at all times, under the government of the rules and regulations of the navy.

With high respect, I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

EDM. P. KENNEDY.

The Hon. John Branch, Secretary of the Navy.

No. 14.

Washington, March T, 1830.

Sir:

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your circular of the third instant, enclosing a resolution of the honorable the Senate of the United States, calling for information relative to the expe-

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diency of employing marines on board of our vessels-of-war. In reply to which, I respectfully offer it as my opinion, that marines should compose a part of the force of a ship-of-war; that marines, under naval laws, could be made not only useful as a military body, but, by the adoption of the following- plan, be made a school for seamen.

Marines not to be enlisted over the age of twenty-five, nor retained in service as marines beyond a stated period: after being well drilled at a school of practice, both as artillerists and infantry, to be sent on board ship, and at sea liable to do such duties aloft, or elsewhere, as the service may require to make them efficient, whilst under enlistment, and fit to be received as ordinary seamen, when discharged. Experience has taught me that the sailor will not be efficient to the duties which have been required, or may be done by marines, without their nautical character being in some measure impaired by attention to military duty; and that it is not in the power of the sea officer to drill them efficiently to such duties. Should he be successful, it would be but a bad substitute for marines, as they come to us prepared for military service, and not only to do the duty of soldiers, but of ordinary seamen. It is usual to instruct a part of the seamen in the use of the musket; all their habits are adverse to attaining any of the acquirements of the soldier.

For the reasons above mentioned, I am persuaded that marines cannot be dispensed with. I will even for a moment suppose that seamen may be made competent to do the ordinary duties required of marines on board ship; yet it must be admitted that, for any purpose of attack, a body of soldiers would be necessary to make the regular approaches to storm a fortress, or counteract the movements of an enemy in the field; however brave the sailor may be, he cannot acquire that military knowledge under the instruction of the sea officer, on board ship, which would prepare him for such duties.

I am also of opinion, that marines, governed by naval laws, are preferable at navy yards, to aged or disabled petty officers and seamen

I have the honor to be, with the greatest respect,

J. J. NICHOLSON, Captain U. S. Navy.

The Hon. John Branch, Secretary of the Navy, Washington City.

No. 15.

Washington, March 5, 1830.

Sir:

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication dated the 3d instant, enclosing me a copy of a resolution of the Senate of the United States, and requesting that, in conformity therewith, I will furnish you with my opinion upon the different points embraced by it.

I perceive that the above resolution embraces four distinct inquiries; taking them in the order in which they stand, I shall proceed to give you my opinion on each.

1. I do conceive it necessary to the armed equipment of a vessel-of-war, that marines should compose a part of its military force.

2. Marines cannot be usefully dispensed with; but, on the contrary, are absolutely necessary. Nor can seamen, no matter how well instructed in the use of small arms, be made to perform the duties of marines, either in battle or otherwise.

3. Seamen are now instructed in the use of small arms; but every officer in the navy knows with what reluctance they perform that part of their duty. It is my opinion that marines cannot be beneficially dispensed with on board vessels-of-war; but while serving there, or in navy yards, the law should be so amended as to place them under the rules and articles for the better government of the navy of the United States.

4. I am of opinion, that marines are the best safeguard for the public property at navy yards.

All which is respectfully submitted.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

B. J. HOFFMAN.

The Hon. John Branch, Secretary of the Navy.

No. 16.

Near Prospect Hill, Fairfax County, Va., March 5, 1830.

Sir:

Your circular, dated the 3d instant, covering the resolution of the Senate of the United States, has just come to hand, and I hasten to communicate my imperfect views of the subject referred. To the first interrogatory, "Whether it is necessary to the armed equipment of a vessel-of-war, that marines should compose a part of its military force?" I answer unequivocally, that, in my opinion, it is indispensably necessary. To the second inquiry, "Whether marines may not usefully be dispensed with, and a portion of the seamen be instructed in the use of small arms, and perform all the duties which can be required of marines, either in battle or in ordinary service?" I answer, marines cannot be safely dispensed with: and that a portion of every ship's company in the navy is now trained to the use of small arms. They are made expert marksmen, but the natural aversion of sailors to the duties of a soldier forbids the hope of ever rendering them useful substitutes for well regulated marines. The third question answered, in part, by answer to the second. To the fourth interrogatory, "Whether petty officers and seamen who have been in service, but, from age or slight disabilities, are rendered unfit for the active duties of their calling on ship-board, can be usefully and safely employed as guards at the navy stations, in lieu of the marines now assigned to that duty?" I answer, they cannot; and the reasons are obvious. If guards are at all necessary in navy yards, and their utility cannot be denied, they should be composed of young, active men, free from physical imperfections of every kind, and capable of enduring the greatest fatigue and exposure: temperance, too, is most essential, whether in the sentinel on post or the watchman in his midnight rounds; these qualifications cannot exist in the weather-beaten sailor, nor in the impotent from any other cause.

In expressing the foregoing opinions, it may be expected that I should assign some reasons in support of my views. Without entering into a prolix discussion of the subject, I will simply state what

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I believe will be admitted on all hands, viz: that some sort of a military guard is useful on board all ships-of-war; the great difference of opinion among our naval officers seems not to be whether a guard is, or is not, necessary on board ships-of-war, but of what character that guard shall partake, whether purely military, or of a mixed nature. Much might be said, pro and con., upon this subject, but I will content myself with facts as they exist; and if we recur to the history of the British nation, whose success in naval supremacy is certainly worthy of imitation in many respects, we shall find that the royal marines of Great Britain have formed a valuable integrant of the English navy ever since the year 1684; and I am not aware that, after near two centuries' experience, the British government, or the officers of her navy, have evinced any disposition either to abolish or make any change in the character and employment of that ancient and useful corps. I am aware, however, that it has been said that the same causes do not exist for a marine corps in the American that are to be found in the British navy. I am free to admit that the services differ in many respects, and especially in the mode of manning their ships in time of war; I have heard it said, too, by some who advocate the abolition of our marine corps, that, were it not for the value of marines in preventing and suppressing mutiny among men dragged by press-gangs into her service, England would discontinue the use of marines on board her ships.

It is now, I believe, about fourteen years since England laid aside that obnoxious practice of impressment to man her navy; simultaneous with that act, she increased, or rather doubled the number of marines onboard her cruising ships! thereby forming an extensive nursery, if not for the formation of able seamen, at least to train up valuable marine gunners and ordinary seamen for future exigencies. Although the American navy does not at this time stand in need of marines to guard against or suppress mutiny on board our ships, it may not always be the case, should we ever have to resort to means other than voluntary enlistments to man our navy; nor ought it to be inferred, because our marines have not been called upon to coerce obedience in the seamen, that, in the absence of marines, some act of serious insubordination might not have occurred; the bare possibility of such an event is sufficient to justify the employment of preventive means. There are other and highly important duties on board ship, purely military, which can only be safely confided to the care of a soldier, who has been nurtured in the school of strict military discipline, such as the high trust committed to the experienced sentinel at the passage leading to the store rooms and powder magazines, when a slight omission or act of negligence might cause instantaneous destruction to the ship and all on board.

If, then, we admit the usefulness or necessity of a guard of any kind on board ships of war, it can hardly be denied that that system which is best defined and most unique in its organization, will produce the most perfect and certain result in practice, and ought to be preferred; hence the absurdity of the idea of forming a part of the sea officers and sailors into a semi-military guard, as a substitute for marines! They would be neither sailors nor soldiers; they would have no fixed or certain character; a mere shadow without substance, a body without a head; no rallying point, no esprit du corps, so necessary to stimulate the soldier to a zealous discharge of the important duties assigned him; and both officers and sailors, thus metamorphosed, would feel themselves disgraced in their borrowed character, and enter most reluctantly upon any of the duties now exclusively performed by marines. But it is not alone to the military duty of marines on board ships of war that their usefulness is confined; for in battle they are as expert in working the great guns as most seamen, and may be made equally so; in repelling boarders and securing prisoners, &c., they are particularly useful; and as after guard, to perform certain pulling and hauling (at all times required at sea) which must be performed by some part of the crew, the marines are more efficient than able seamen, because they are generally men in the prime of life, (and may always be such) possessing a greater degree of physical strength than can be found in the same number of what are called able seamen.

The foregoing comprise some of the important duties performed by marines afloat; but there is yet another source of usefulness to which they may advantageously be turned, viz: the conversion of a well-organized marine corps, or rather a corps of marine artillery, into a fruitful nursery for training up men for the navy; this great object can only be effected by a total change in the organization of that corps. It should be lopped off entirely from the army, (though the officers should be put upon a footing equal at least to those of the best regiment in the service,) and made an integrant of the navy: the non-commissioned officers and privates should be all native born citizens of the United States, recruited in the inland towns, &c., and enlisted as they now are for the term of five years: the first year, recruits should be instructed in their duty as soldiers and artillerists on shore; the second and third years, they might be at sea, but on their return to the United States, they should be permitted to enter on board the ships of the navy as ordinary seamen, or in any other capacity for which they might be found best qualified; and, whenever a marine is thus transferred to the navy roll, his place in the corps is to be immediately supplied by a new recruit from the country.

In furtherance of this auxiliary for manning the navy, the proportion of marines should be increased on board the large ships. Those of the line ought to have at least one hundred and twenty rank and file, and the frigates not less than seventy-five. The effects of this plan would be, after two or three years, to add annually three or four hundred (or about two-fifths of the whole corps) to the list of ordinary seamen, and mechanics for the navy, all able bodied young men, comprising the very best materials of the country; nor would the benefits of this system stop here, for the return of these newly instructed marines to their homes and friends would be the means of diffusing correct knowledge with regard to the character and nature of the public service, thereby dissipating the prejudices which at present prevail with the country people in relation to the army and navy.

I have the honor to be, sir, most respectfully, your obedient servant,

THOS. AP CATESBY JONES, Captain United States Navy.

To the Hon. John Branch, Secretary of the Navy.