PROTECTING THE CANAL


One of the principal objections to Canal fortifications when Congress first took action was that the United States might be violating its treaties with Great Britain.  The Clayton-Bulwer Treaty of 1850 gave the United States the right to construct the Canal, but provided that the completed waterway should be unfortified and forever remain neutral, free and open to vessels of commerce and of war of al nations on terms of equality.  This treaty was abrogated in 1901 by the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty, now in force.  This treaty also provides for the neutralization of the Canal, but no word is said as to fortifying it.  The objection, if there was any, is no longer sustainable, inasmuch as Great Britain, the only nation that had any right to object, has acquiesced in the erection of forts.  The other great powers have constantly recognized the right and necessity of the United States to fortify.

Under the existing treaty it is necessary that the Canal be kept neutral and open on terms of equality to vessels of all nations.  It has been contended that this could be accomplished much more effectively by means of an international treaty between the nations interested who would guarantee its safety in time of war as in time of peach.  Such a treaty, backed by England's enormous naval power and her control of the Mediterranean and Red Seas, is the protection of the Suez Canal.   A similar treaty might avail for the United States under conditions of universal peace, but universal peach has not yet been attained.  Nations continue to go to war in spite of treaties, and, in the heat of conflict, frequently ignore all laws both of usage and humanity.  Treaties are effective when there is power to enforce them.   To maintain neutrality then, it is argued that the United States must have the power to do so, and in no better place can that power be exercised than in forts on the Canal.

One of the greatest benefits the United States expects to get from the Canal is increased naval effectiveness.  The Canal would naturally be the first place an enemy would endeavor to control, treaty or no treaty; and the other powers to a treaty, if there were any, would either stand aloof, or take sides in the international struggle which might result.  The Canal is being built by American money and skill.  If it is to remain to America, it must be protected; strength to resist is the best form of protection.

To maintain neutrality is the first object of the fortifications; the second is to retain to the United States what has been accomplished by its citizens.  Keeping the Canal neutral does not mean that the United States will be compelled to keep it open to a foe in pursuit of her own ships, or allow hostile ships to pass through on their way to blockade or bombard an American city.

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Wall scaling contest between men of the U.S. Marine Corps and the Tenth Infantry,
U.S.A.  A Fourth of July event

These questions have been steeled to the extent that Congress has appropriated, up to June 23, 1913, a total of $10,676,950 for the protection of the Canal.  A report of the Fortification Board of January 4, 1911, estimates the amount to be appropriated at $12,475,328.  The amount expended on fortifications up to June 30, 1913, was $3,114,357.52.  The work of preparing placements for 14-inch and 6-inch guns, and pits for 12-inch mortars, to protect the Canal entrances is well under way.  There will also be one 16-inch gun, the largest made, placed to protect the Pacific entrance to the Canal.  On the Pacific side the islands of Naos, Culebra, Perico, and Flamenco are being fortified and form one reservation, while, on the mainland at Balboa, a second reservation will be established.  On the Atlantic side there will be a fort on

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A military force has been maintained in the Canal Zone ever since American occupancy.  This is Camp Elliott, which occupies a commanding site near Bas Obispo, the headquarters for the local detachment of the United States Marine Corps

Margarita Point, about a mile north of Manzanillo Island, on which Colon is situated; another on Toro Point across the bay from Colon, and one on the mainland at Colon.  In the neighborhood of the locks, those at Gatun, seven miles inland, and those at Miraflores and Pedro Miguel, inland nine and eleven miles, respectively, there will be located field defenses to provide against attack by landing forces.  This work is being done under the direction of Lieut. George R. Goethals, the elder son of Col. George W. Goethals, the builder of the Canal.  It is planned to keep on the Isthmus 12 companies of coast artillery, one battery of field artillery, four regiments of infantry, one squadron of cavalry, and one battalion of marines.

The forts, and batteries comprising them, have been named, as follows:

At the Pacific terminus—Fort Grant and Fort Amador, the first located on the group of islands in the bay, in honor of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, U.S.A., who died on July 23, 1885, and the second, located on the mainland at Balboa, in honor of Dr. Manuel Amador Guerrero, first president of the Republic of Panama, who died on May 2, 1909.

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A street in the marine camp showing the barracks.  Much work has been done by the men in beautifying the grounds, and this picture shows the result of their efforts.

At the Atlantic terminus—Fort Sherman, Fort Randolph, and Fort De Lesseps, the first, in honor of Gen. William T. Sherman, U.S.A., who died on February 14, 1881, the second, in honor of Maj. Gen. Geo. Wallace F. Randolph, U.S.A., who died September 9, 1910, and the third, in honor of Count Ferdinand de Lesseps, promoter of the Panama Canal, who died December 7, 1894.  Fort Sherman will be located on Toro Point, Fort Randolph on Margarita Point, and Fort De Lesseps on the mainland at Colon.

FORT GRANT MILITARY RESERVATION

Battery Newton, in honor of Maj. Gen. John Newton, U.S. Volunteers (Brigadier General, Chief of engineers, U.S.A.) who died May 1, 1895.
Battery Merritt, in honor of Maj. Gen. Wesley Merritt, U.S.A., who died December 3, 1910.
Battery Carr, in honor of Brevt. Maj. Gen. Jos. Brandord Carr, (Brig. Gen. U.S. Vols.), who died Feb. 24, 1895.
Battery Prince, in honor of Brig. Gen. Harry Prince, U.S. Vols. (Lieut. Col. U.S.A.), who died August 19, 1892.
Battery Warren, in honor of Maj. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren, U.S. Vols. (Lieutenant Colonel, Corps of Engineers, U.S.A.), who died August 8, 1882.

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In 1911 the War Department decided to send a regiment of infantry to the Isthmus.
This is their camp, known as Camp Otis, near Las Cascadas.

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Camp life at Camp Otis.

Battery Buell, in honor of Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell, U.S. Vols. (Colonel Assistant Adjutant General, U.S.A.), who died November 19, 1898.
Battery Burnside, in honor of Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside, U.S. Vols. (First Lieutenant, Third U.S. Artillery), who died September 13, 1881.
Battery Parke, in honor of Maj. Gen. John G. Parke, U.S. Vols. (Colonel, Corps of Engineers, U.S.A.), who died December 16, 1900.

FORT AMADOR MILITARY RESERVATION

Battery Smith, in honor of Maj. Gen. Charles F. Smith, U.S. Vols. (Colonel, Third U.S. Infantry), who died April 25, 1862.

FORT SHERMAN MILITARY RESERVATION

Battery Howard, in honor of Maj. Gen. Olivery O. Howard, U.S.A., who died October 26, 1909.

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Naos Island, one of the islands in Panama Bay belonging to the United States, which is being fortified.  The island is connected to the mainland by a breakwater.

Battery Baird, in honor of Brig. Gen. Absalom Baird, who died June 14, 1905.
Battery Stanley, in honor of Maj. Gen. David S. Stanley, U.S. Vols. (Brigadier General, U.S.A.), who died March 13, 1902.
Battery Mower, in honor of Maj. Gen. Joseph A. Mower, U.S. Vols. (Colonel, Twenty-fifth Infantry), who died January 6, 1870.
Battery Kilpatrick, in honor of Maj. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick, U.S. Vols. (Captain, First Artillery), who died December 2, 1881.

FORT RANDOLPH MILITARY RESERVATION

Battery Tidball, in honor of Brig. Gen. John C. Tidball, U.S.A., who died May 15, 1906.
Battery Zalinski, in honor of Maj. Gen. Edward Lewis Zalinski, (5th U.S. Artillery), who died March 10, 1909.
Battery Webb, in honor of Brevet Maj. Gen. Alexander S. Webb, U.S.A. (Lieutenant Colonel, 44th U.S. Infantry), who died February 12, 1911.
Battery Weed, in honor of Brig. Gen. Stephen H. Weed, U.S. Volunteers (Captain, 5th U.S. Artillery), who was killed in action, July 2, 1863, at Gettysburg, Pa.

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Toro Point, at the Atlantic entrance to the Canal, which is being fortified.

FORT DE LESSEPS MILITARY RESERVATION

Battery Morgan, in honor of Brig. Gen. Charles H. Morgan, U.S. Volunteers (Major, 4th Artillery), who died December 20, 1875.

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Naos Island breakwater, showing fill extending out from the mainland.  A total of 474 acres had been reclaimed from the ocean at this point up to June, 1913.  Practically all the material for the fill came from Culebra Cut.  It is designed to cut off a cross current, which has carried a large amount of mud and silt into the Canal channel.  In addition, it will serve as a causeway connecting the islands and the fortifications thereon with the mainland.

From:  America's Triumph at Panama by Ralph E. Avery, 1913


CZBrats
July 2, 2000