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Following the same design to secure enlarged activity and usefulness for the artillery arm, two additional artillery members have been appointed to the Board of Ordnance and Fortification under authority of the army appropriation act of March 2, 1901, and that important board now consists of three artillery officers, with the Lieutenant-General Commanding, the Chief of Engineers, the Chief of Ordnance, and one civilian. On the initiative of the Chief of Engineers an artillery officer has been added to the Board of Engineers, which is charged with consideration of plans of coast defense.
The system of details to the staff and supply departments which the act of February 2 substituted for permanent appointments has been commenced, and 31 officers are now satisfactorily performing their duties under such details, distributed as follows:
12 8 5 2 4
The two volunteer battalions in Porto Rico have been continued and reorganized as two battalions of the Porto Rico Provisional Regiment authorized by the act. It has not been deemed necessary to increase the number by the addition of a third battalion.
Twenty-seven of the 30 dental surgeons authorized by the act have been selected, after a very careful examination under the direction of the Surgeon-General. There still remain three vacancies.
The candidates for the positions as veterinarians, created by the act, are now undergoing examination.
A board consisting of all the general officers of the line of the Army now in the United States and the Chief of Artillery has been convened at Washington, and is now in session, to formulate and submit a project for the location, examinations, and surveys to be made for the permanent grounds provided for by section 35 of the act of February 2, 1901. This board is also charged with the duty of considering and reporting upon the location and distribution of military posts required for the proper accommodation, instruction, and training of the Army as organized under the act of February 2, not including coast fortifications, and is directed to make “recommendations in detail as to which of the existing posts should be retained or abandoned, and of
those retained which, if any, should be enlarged and to what extent, and the location, size, and character of such new posts as may be necessary, having due regard in all its recommendations to the proper distribution of the different arms of the service, based upon strategic, sanitary, and economical considerations."
The provisions of section 38 of the act of February 2, 1901, prohibiting the sale of or dealing in beer, wine, or any intoxicating liquors by any person in any post exchange, or canteen, or army transport, or upon any premises used for military purposes by the United States, have been carried into full force and effect, pursuant to the directions of the statute.
When the orders were issued for the enforcement of this section of the law, the commanding officers of the various posts and military organizations were directed to report upon its effects. A great body of reports has been received, which indicate that the effect of the law is unfortunate. I think, however, that a sufficient time has not elapsed to give the law a fair trial, and the observation and report of its working will be continued during the ensuing year.
COMFORT AND HEALTH.
The reports show that the food and clothing furnished to the Army during the year have been satisfactory, that the health of our troops has been good and the death rate low. The death rate per thousand of troops in the United States during the past year was 10.14; in Cuba, 9.72; in Porto Rico, 7.90, and among the the troops serving in the Philippines and China it was reduced from 19.31 during the previous year to 16.76 during the past year. This covered periods of very active service in the field by considerable portions of the force in the Philippines, and will doubtless be much further reduced as the troops come to be stationed in more permanent quarters. In the opinion of the Medical Department, when permanent arrangements have been made and proper sanitary regulations can be enforced, the health of the troops stationed in the Tropics will be quite as good as if stationed in our own Gulf States.
The ocean transport service has continued to be adequate and efficient. The return of the volunteer force from the Philippines in the limited period allowed between the time when they were required for
active operations in the early part of 1901 and the 30th of June in that year was accomplished without accident, confusion, or delay, and was a very creditable performance.
Notwithstanding the faithful and zealous service of the officers of the Quartermaster's Department in charge of Government transportation, I became satisfied that with the reduction of forces and consequent reduction of business in Cuba and Porto Rico the business could be done more economically by commercial lines, and the Department was not justified in longer maintaining a separate transport fleet on the Atlantic. The Atlantic transport service was accordingly discontinued on the 30th of June last, after contracts had been made for the carriage of Government passengers and freight upon bids submitted in response to public advertisement. Some of the smaller vessels have been transferred to the Pacific fleet; three have been sold; others have been put out of commission and are ready to be used, if required, or to be sold if that be deemed desirable. I think it is desirable to sell them.
It is not practicable now to discontinue the transport service upon the Pacific, but I do not think it desirable that the United States should own and operate a fleet of passenger and freight vessels in time of peace. It would be gratifying if the American merchant marine could furnish vessels to transport our men and supplies as part of a regular commerce between the United States and the Philippines, under contracts which would enable the Government, in case of war, to put the vessels under the control of regular officers of the Army or Navy for transport purposes, upon reasonable compensation. It is desirable that authority be given by Congress to make such contracts in case opportunities for such an arrangement should be afforded in the future.
Most of our transports were bought from foreign owners, and upon being sold, would necessarily come again under a foreign flag. It will make a great difference in the prices which can be obtained if an American register can be granted to these ships. I ask that this be authorized by Congress. There would seem to be no objection on any public ground to granting an American register to a ship which has been for years flying the American flag as a public vessel of the United States, and when the money value of the privilege will go into the public treasury.
The detailed project for the defense of the entrance to Chesapeake Bay at Cape Henry, Virginia, has been approved. A detailed project for the defense of San Juan, Porto Rico, at a total estimated cost of $1,800,000, has been prepared, and preliminary projects for the defense of Pearl Harbor and Honolulu, in the Territory of Hawaii, are also available. Substantial progress has been made in the revision of earlier projects of fortification, made before the use of rapid-fire guns played so great a part in coast defense. There have been added to the completed seacoast armament during the year fifteen 12-inch guns, seven 10-inch guns, eleven 8-inch guns, thirty-five rapid-fire guns, and twenty-three mortars. Satisfactory progress has been made in construction at numerous points according to plans previously approved. The magazines in many of the seacoast fortifications have proved too damp for the long-continued storage of powder. It is believed that the difficulty has been obviated in recent construction, and steps are being taken to remedy it in the old magazines.
On the 5th of June the Board of Ordnance and Fortification advised me as follows:
It is the unanimous opinion of the board that the pneumatic dynamite gun batteries have become obsolete by more recent developments in the means of defense, and the board does not consider these batteries at the present time of sufficient utility to warrant further expenditures in their construction or the extensive repair of those already installed.
Discontinuance of work on the dynamite batteries then in progress was accordingly directed.
The Ordnance Department reports'an abundant supply of smokeless powder on hand of the best quality now extant, and material improvement in its manufacture.
The Ordnance Department has during the year continued a series of experiments upon high explosives and detonating fuses, with satisfactory results. An extensive series of tests of field guns and carriages, is in progress under a programme prepared by the Board of Ordnance and Fortification. The caliber determined upon was 3-inch, and all competitors were advised that it was desirable that the guns and carriages submitted for test should use fixed ammunition and be provided with cylinders and trail spades to reduce the recoil of firing to a mini
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Nine different types have been submitted; two constructed by United States officers, three by American manufacturers, and four by foreign builders.
A plant for the manufacture of small arms has been installed at the Rock Island Arsenal, and the plant at Springfield Armory has been enlarged. With these increased facilities for manufacture, and the surplus stock now on hand, the Department is ready, if Congress shall authorize it, to supply the national guards of the States with the present service rifle with which the Regular Army, Navy, and Marine Corps are now armed alike. I strongly urge that this authority be given.
I beg to call especial attention to the thorough and well-considered report of the Board of Visitors to the West Point Military Academy for the current year. Their statement of the conditions and needs of the institution is accurate, and their recommendations have my hearty approval. It will be gratifying to everyone who has at heart the good name and prosperity of the institution to know that this body of gentlemen, composed of members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives, and of eminent civilians and retired officers of high rank appointed directly by the Tresident, have been able to make the following observations:
After the most searching investigation each and every member of the board is fully satisfied that the practice of hazing, which by tradition had for nearly a century been considered as inseparably connected with the Academy, has been eradicated. There is every evidence that when Col. A. L. Mills became Superintendent of the Academy in September, 1898, he was fully determined to deal a deathblow to this practice, which, while it might have originated in harmless sport, and for generations was condoned as the natural ebullition of youth, had in fact degenerated in some cases into a crime. The practice had sometimes become so brutal and pitiless that new cadets had little protection. Former officers of the institution have appeared to rest content with publishing what might have seemed stringent rules and regulations bearing on the abuse, but which, as a matter of fact, were not discouraging to it, while a majority of the graduates of the institution, possibly ignorant of the extent of the outrages practiced under the guise of sport, argued with great vehemence that to uproot this tradition was equivalent to destroying the Academy itself. An aroused public sentiment, prompt legislation on the part of Congress, and the decisive action of the Secretary of War (these following the disclosures in connection with the hazing of Cadet Booz, which incident occurred before Colonel Mills took charge) made effective the determination of the Superintendent to stamp out the brutal and shameful tradition.