Page images

the angle QSP is observed 35°, and PSO=40°, describe a circle

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]

passing through Q, S, and P, which is thus done : Double the angle QSP which=70°; subtract this from 180, leaving 110°; lay off half of this, or 55° at PQR and QPR, and the angle at R is evidently=70°, or double QSP; now the angle at the centre being double that at the circumference, a circle described from R as a centre with the radius RQ, or RP, will pass through the point S. In like manner a circle described from V, with the radius VP, will also pass through S, and their intersection gives the spot required.

For the analysis of the calculation of this problem, vide “ Puissant, Géodesie,” vol. i. p.


233. The method of surveying any tract of country through which a line of railway is projected or has been determined upon

is similar to that of measuring roads or other continuous lines by “-traversing” with the chain and theodolite, that it does not require any peculiar directions. The lines, however, being generally very long, must be measured with the greatest exactness, and the angles be observed with proportionate care. Where practicable also, the work should, whilst in progress, be tested by reference to known fixed points near which it passes, which can in most cases be obtained from good maps. The existing Standing Orders of Parliament regulate the scale upon which these surveys are required to be plotted in England; and the lateral deviation

[ocr errors]

allowed from the proposed line of rails, with other local causes, determine the breadth required to be embraced in the survey.

For the methods of laying out the lines of railways; the levels of the different portions ; determining the curves, gradients, and slopes of embankments and cuttings, &c., every information can be obtained from the works of Mr. Hascoll and many others; and it would be out of place here to attempt any description of subjects which belong to a most important branch of civil engineering, and embrace such a multitude of details. A few remarks, however, upon the method of taking sections for railways, and the scales upon which they should be plotted, will be found in the chapter upon Levelling




The sketch of any portion of ground for military purposes should, in all cases, be accompanied by an explanatory statistical report, and the combination of these two methods of communicating local information constitutes what is termed a Military Reconnaissance, in which the importance of the sketch, or the report, predominates according to circumstances.

The object for which a reconnaissance is undertaken naturally suggests the points to which the attention of the officer should be principally directed; if for example, it is merely to determine the best line of march for troops through a friendly or undisputed country; the state of the communications, the facilities of transport, and possibility of provisioning a stated number of men upon the route, are the first objects for his consideration. If the ground in question is to be occupied either permanently, or for temporary purposes, or if it is likely to become the seat of war; his attention must be directed to its military features, and a sketch of the ground, with explanatory references, together with a full and correct report of all the intelligence he can collect from observation, or from such of the inhabitants as are most likely to be well acquainted with the localities *, and most worthy of credence, will demand the exertion of all his energies : upon the correct information furnished by this reconnaissance may depend, in a great measure, the fate of the army.


* It is almost needless to point out the incalculable advantages of being a good modern linguist to an officer employed on duty of this nature in an enemy's country.

The principal points for observation in a military sketch and report are

ROADS.—Their direction; nature; liability to injury; facility of repair; practicability, in what seasons, and for what species of troops; exposure to, and means of security from, enfilade; whether bordered or not by hedges, ditches, or banks, &c.

CANALS.—Means of destruction, or of rendering them of use; construction; depth of water, size of locks, &c.

RIVERS.—Their sources, width, depth, velocity of current; fords * for infantry and cavalry, whether permanent, or only passable at certain periods of tide, or seasons of the year, and if exposed to fire; means of passage; profile of banks; size and nature of vessels and boats employed in the navigation; tributary springs and rivulets; bridges, with their dimensions, materials, and construction, and means of destroying or repairing them.

MILITARY FEATURES.-Inclination of slopes, and all irregularities of ground; accessible or not for cavalry or infantry; description of country, open or inclosed; relative command of hills t; ravines; forests; marshes; inundations; barriers; plains ; facilities for landing, if on a sea coast; military posts, and fortified towns, &c.

STATISTICAL INFORMATION.— The population and employment of the different towns, villages, and hamlets, contained within the limits of the sketch. Agricultural and other produce; commerce; means of transport; subsistence for men and horses, &c.; with a variety of minute but important details, for which the reader is referred to the excellent essay on this subject, in the fourth volume of the “ Mémorial Topographique et Militaire;” to the “ Aide Mémoire des Officiers du Genie;" Macauley's “ Field Fortification;" &c.

The degree of accuracy of which a sketch of this nature is susceptible depends upon the time that can be allowed, and the


may be at hand. If a good map of the country can


* A ford should not be deeper than three feet for infantry, four feet for cavalry, and two and a half for artillery and ammunition waggons.—Macauley's “ Field Fortification.” The nature of the soil at the bottom should always be ascertained, and also if it is liable to shift, which is the case in a mountainous country.

+ If actual differences of level cannot be determined for want of time, still relative command may be obtained, and numbered 1, 2, 3, &c., accordingly.


be procured (which is generally the case), the positions of several conspicuous points, such as churches, mills, &c., can be taken from it and laid down on the required scale, and, if the ground to be sketched is extensive, transferred to several sheets of paper to be filled in simultaneously by any requisite number of officers; or a base may be roughly measured, paced, or otherwise obtained from some known distance, such as that between milestones for instance, and angles taken with a sextant or other instrument from its extremities to different well-defined objects, forming the commencement of a tolerably accurate species of triangulation, which may be laid down without calculation, within which the detail can be sketched more rapidly and with far more certainty than without such assistance. No directions that can possibly be given will render an officer expert at this most necessary branch of his profession, as practice alone can give him an eye capable of generalizing the minute features of the ground, and catching their true military character, or the power of delineating them with ease, rapidity, and correctness.

The instruments used in sketching ground have already been alluded to when describing the mode of filling in the detail between measured lines on a regular survey. In addition to the advantages there ascribed to the azimuth compass, it will be found peculiarly well adapted for sketching on a continuous line, such as the course of a road or river, or a line of coast, which reflecting instruments are not; and the angles with the magnetic meridian, measured by the compass, can be read off with quite as much accuracy as they can be laid down by the small protractor used in the field. This should have a scale of 6, 4, or 3 inches to one mile (or whatever other proportion may be preferred) engraved on the other bevelled side, and with a sketching portfolio * and compass, together with a small sextant and field telescope, comprise all the instruments that can be required by an officer

* The present “ Sabretache” is of little use on horseback, and on foot it is a mere incumbrance. It is most desirable that Officers of Engineers, and those attached to the Quarter-Master-General's department, on service, should be equipped with one of an improved pattern, which might easily be arranged so as to answer for a portfolio and sketching case, and at the same time contain such scales and drawing instruments as are required by an officer employed upon an extensive reconnaissance.

« PreviousContinue »