§In order to prevent a repetition of the burning of
Washington, President James Monroe
wanted better coastal defenses.
§In 1816, the army had created a board to study the
subject and recommend what
fortifications were required.
§Membership included Brigadier General Joseph G. Swift,
chief of engineers, and two
other American engineers, Lieutenant Colonels William McRee and Joseph G. Totten.
§Monroe asked France for a distinguished engineer to head
§The French sent Simon Bernard, a graduate of the École
§Swift and McRee both
considered Bernard's appointment to be an insult to American engineers and resigned from the board shortly
§Totten stayed to assist Bernard in planning what became
known as the Third System of
§The 1821 report recommended an extensive program to
build almost 200 modern
masonry forts on the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Pacific coasts, but by the beginning of the Civil War only 30 of these forts
§When Bernard returned to France in 1831, Totten became
America's expert on