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NEW YORK BRANCH.
THE NAVAL BRIGADE
MR. CHAIRMAN AND GENTLEMEN.
The term Naval Brigade, as you all know, is applied to the forces of a ship or ships which may be landed for operations on shore, and is composed of infantry and artillery, with their necessary accompaniments. This force may be used for a variety of purposes, but each one involves the possibility of fighting. To do this successfully it is necessary to have (1) organization, (2) skill in the use of weapons, (3) disci-. pline. Beyond all question organization is the first essential. It assigns to each man his part in the great whole, it provides his food, his clothing and his ammunition, it prevents accidents and renders confusion almost impossible. Skill with weapons speaks for itself, and it is worthy of remark that this subject has lately received an impetus which is gratifying. In the matter of discipline and instruction we have the greatest difficulty to contend with. A dislike of infantry tactics, as it is called, is inherent in the sailor, principally on account of the unpractical way in which these exercises are generally conducted. It is quite possible however to make them interesting by. making them so thoroughly practical that their usefulness will be readily comprehended. We must teach the men to think and to know the part that each. One is to play in the war game; we must make them realize that each man, by acting sensibly, can contribute to success, and that it is his duty to coöperate at all times: if we can do this we shall find that the Sailor's qualities of activity, readiness in emergency, and his almost daily habit of facing danger will be the greatest aids in making him an efficient fighter when he is on shore.
I propose to give first, a concise history of the operations of the naval brigade in our service with the results obtained; then a plan of
organization and a system of drill which will make our naval brigade efficient to day. I hope I shall be excused for introducing a great many details, but I do it because they will be found useful, and an officer does not always have the means at hand for obtaining them. Before commencing I must apologize for presuming to lay down any rules of warfare to be followed, because I have no war experience myself. I can only say that I have consulted what are generally acknowledged to be the best authorities, and have united to their teachings my own experience in conducting these exercises as a matter of instruction and drill. HISTORY. 1813. June 22. Defence of Craney island by a party of one hundred seamen and fifty marines under Lt. Neale of the Constitution. 1813. Oct. 23. The Essex, under Porter, at Nookahevah in the Marquesas, went in to refit, made a station, and engaged in wars with the natives. 1814. Aug. 17. The Adams, under Morris, having been injured by going ashore on the coast of Maine, and a squadron of the enemy approaching, she was taken up the Penobscot to Hampden and an attempt was made to protect her. Batteries were erected on the river y bank, and the seamen and marines endeavored to beat off an attack, assisted by the local militia. The latter gave way, and the seamen, being without muskets, could make no effectual resistance. The ship was burnt and the men retreated. 1814. Aug. 24. Battle of Bladensburg. The only resistance of any account, made to the enemy’s attacks in this battle, was made by the detachment under Captain Barney, of three hundred and seventy seamen and seventy eight marines from the Chesapeake flotilla. The militia gave way entirely. 1814. Aug. and Sept. Seamen and marines under Commodore Rodgers were constantly engaged during these two months in the Potomac and around Baltimore, partly in boats, but most of the time on shore or in forts. (In September occurred the battles of North Point and Fort Mc Henry). They were of course peculiarly fitted for this mixed service, and did good Work. In several small engagements on shore, on the lakes, the Navy gave valuable assistance to the troops. 1822. January. The Porpoise, Lt. Ramage, sent a force of forty men on shore on the north western coast of Cuba and broke up a depot of pirates, after a hot fight.
1823. April 16. * Captain Cassin, commanding the Fox and three other small vessels, landed his men near Cayo Blanco and had a running fight on shore with pirates. Their establishment of five houses was taken and burnt. 1823. July 22. f Attack on pirates near Cape Cruz by the Greyhound, Lt. Kearney, and the Beagle, Lt. Newton. Similar to Cassin's fight in April. Farragut commanded the landing party. 1832. Feb. 6. # Attack on Quallah Battoo in Sumatra. This was an elaborate and extensive operation. Two hundred and fifty seamen and marines and a 6 pdr. were landed under command of Lt. Shubrick. 1st division, Lt. Pinkham, 2nd division, Lt. Hoff, 3d divsion, Lt. Ingersoll, howitzer, Master Totten, marines, Lt. Edson. Four forts taken by assault, and town burnt. This expedition was sent from the United States to punish the Malays for an assault on the American ship Friendship. 1840. July. Landing parties were sent ashore in the Fiji Islands on two different occasions, from the Vincennes and Penobscot in Wilkes’ exploring expedition, to punish attacks of the natives. In the second landing the party met with considerable resistance from the natives, who were well armed. The stockade was captured and two towns were burnt. 1846–1848. War with Mexico. It must be remembered in looking at the naval character of the war with Mexico that it was entirely on one side. Mexico had no navy whatever and made no attempt to prosecute the war on the sea : consequently our navy was almost Wholly occupied in coast and landing operations. Of course the main feature of the war was Scott's campaign between Vera Cruz and the city of Mexico : the army of invasion broke the power of the enemy, but the army never aimed at conquest of territory: and when the Question of annexation came up it was settled largely on the basis of permanent conquest. These conquests, which were of so much importance in their bearing on the question of annexation, were almost wholly accomplished by the Navy. At the outbreak of hostilities, in June 1846, Commodore Sloat was in command of the squadron on the West Coast, and he sailed in the Savannah for Monterey, where he landed two hundred and fifty seamen and marines and took possession, while the Portsmouth did the same at San Francisco. He was relieved in July by Stockton, who determined to strike a sudden blow at Los Angeles, where the California legislature was in session, and which was defended by a force of about fifteen hundred men. He immediately issued a proclamation to the people of California, and organized a battalion of volunteers which he put under command of Col. Fremont, but this force did not participate in the capture of Los Angeles. He sailed southward to the port of San Pedro, which is thirty miles from Los Angeles, where he landed three hundred and fifty seamen and marines, with several 6-pdrs. and one 32-pdr. carronade. He then formed a camp and commenced drilling them, and it is worthy of note that he made no attempt to exact the same sort of discipline that is required in the army, but “they were directed to obey a few words of command such as, “halt’, ‘march,’ ‘form line’, ‘form square', ‘ charge’, and always to keep the same comrade on the right or left. In executing the necessary evolutions in which they were exercised, though all at first appeared confusion, yet every man soon took his proper place, and the most perfect order was immediately obtained.” “They saw their Commodore sharing with them all their hardships, partaking their rations and their toils, marching side by side with them, always going ahead in the hour of danger, and they caught with inspiration the ardor which excited him.” The march was accomplished successfully, the enemy routed, and Los Angeles surrendered Aug. 13. It was left with a small garrison and Stockton returned to the north. Late in the fall it was retaken by the Mexicans, and they drove off the men landed at San Pedro which they also took. Stockton returned, took San Pedro and then went to San Diego from which place he determined to march again on Los Angeles distant one hundred and fifty miles. His force, this time, consisted of five hundred seamen and marines, sixty mounted riflemen, Kearney’s sixty dismounted dragoons, one howitzer and six 6-pdrs. He started Dec. 29, fought two engagements, and Los Angeles surrendered Jan 10. Resistance was now at an end and a temporary civil government was established. When the time came to settle the conditions of peace the territory of the United States was increased by this immense district, comprising over six hundred and fifty thousand square miles. The conquest may be laid to the credit of Stockton and the Navy. OTHER OPERATIONS ON THE WEST COAST.—1846. September. Party landed from the Cyane, at San Blas, under Lt. Rowan, spiked guns, et Cetera. 1847. September. Capt. Lavalette landed party at Guaymas to resist threatened attack of the place; enemy drew off. 1847. Oct. 1. Fight at Mulejë. Landing party of fifty seamen and marines from the Dale, under Lt. Craven. 1847. Nov. 11. * Capture of Mazatlan by landing party from Independence, Congress and Cyane, six hundred seamen and marines, five guns. No resistance. This was well organized. Commodore Shubrick commanded the squadron and superintended all the details. Mazatlan was occupied, civil government was established, and two hundred and fifty thousand dollars collected in five months. 1847. Nov. 17. Fight at Guaymas. Landing party of sixty-five seamen and marines, under Comdr. Selfridge; enemy defeated. 1847. Nov 19. f Gallant defence of San José by Lt. 1848. Feb. 4.—14. }Ho with a small force of seamen and marines. Finally relieved by landing party from the Cyane, under Dupont, after a close engagement. 1848. Jan. 12. Landing party at San Blas, under Lieut. Chatard. Two guns captured. OPERATIONS ON THE EAST CoAST. 1846. May 8. Five hundred seamen and marines from the squadron under Capt. Gregory, landed and assisted in the defence of posts on the Rio Grande. 1846. Summer and fall. Tampico, Laguna, Frontera, all taken and occupied by landing parties. 1847. March 22-29. Bombardment of Vera Cruz. Principal execution done by the Naval Battery : a battalion of marines marched with the army to the City of Mexico. 1847. April 12. Capture of Tuspan. Landing party of fourteen hundred and ninety seamen and marines and four field guns, under Capt. S. L. Breese. 1847. June 15. Capture of Tobasco. Landing party of eleven hundred seamen and marines, with eleven field pieces under Commodore M. C. Perry. Fatiguing march, and severe engagements. To
* Am. State Papers, Naval Affairs, 2, 240, 241.
# Am. State Papers, Naval Affairs, 2, 246. f Cooper's Naval History—continuation p. 33.