No. 248.

The Secretary of War to Mr. Fish.

Sir: In compliance with your request of the 7th instant, I have the honor to furnish herewith an estimate prepared by the Bureau of Engineers, of the cost of surveying and determining, by a joint commission, the boundary line between the United States and the British possessions, between the Lake of the Woods and the Rocky Mountains.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

WM. W. BELKNAP, Secretary of War.

The Honorable the Secretary of State.

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Sir: In reply to the communication of the 7th instant, from the Department of State, asking for an estimate of the probable cost of surveying and marking the boundary between the United States and the British possessions, from the Lake of the Woods to the Rocky Mountains, I beg to reply that a properly-organized commission, with two sets of astronomical and surveying parties to expedite the work, would require, from the estimate hereunto annexed, an expenditure of about $100,000 yearly while actually engaged upon field duties.

But it is not possible to state with certainty the length of time required to trace and mark the whole line, as the progress that would be made depends upon the nature of the country to be passed over.

The line is about eight hundred and sixty miles long. The season for working to advantage is short, and although the country is generally an open one, the number of astronomical stations to be occupied, upon which the rate of progress mainly rests, depends so much upon the distance of prominent points of elevation from each other that they cannot be estimated.

From one month to six weeks would, no doubt, making due allowance for bad weather, be required to establish, astronomically, a point on the parallel to trace its connection with a preceding one and to move the party to the next. Should these points average fifty miles apart, there would be some seventeen stations, or say eight stations for each astronomical party, to occupy which would consume from eight to twelve months actual field duty for the completion of the line.

It is not probable that the parties can be kept in the field continuously for this length of time, but that the work would have to run through two seasons at least, if not longer.

The services of the officers and the greater part of their assistants would be required for another year on office-work to complete the records of the survey, so that the probable expense which would be incurred for completing the work might be set down at $325,000.

Officers of engineers have been frequently assigned to perform such duties as these, and if the demarcation of this boundary should be confided to them the estimate should be modified.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. A. HUMPHREYS, Brigadier General and Chief of Engineers.

Hon. W. W. Belknap, Secretary of War.

Estimate of probable cost of a commission for surveying and marking the boundaries between the, United. States and the British possessions.

Organization: Per year.
1 commissioner, $4,000 $4,000
1 secretary, $2,000 2,000
1 chief astronomer, $3,000 3,000
1 surgeon, $2,000 2,000
1 quartermaster and commissary, $2,000 2,000
Two astronomical parties—
2 assistant astronomers, at $2,000 4,000
4 sub-assistants, at $1,500 6,000
12 men—2 at $75, 10 at $45—$600 per month 7,200
2 cooks at $50—$100 per month 1,200
8 teamsters at $45—$360 per month 4,320
4 mess-men at $45—$180 per month 2,160
50 pack-mules, or 8 wagons and 36 mules.
Two surveying parties—
2 surveyors, at $1,800 3,600
2 assistant surveyors, at $1,200 2,400
20 men—4 at $75,16 at $45—$1,020 per month 12,240
2 cooks at $50—$100 per month 1,200
4 teamsters at $45—$180 per month 2,160
4 mess-men at $45—$180 per month 2,160
30 pack-mules, or 4 wagons and 20 mules.

Seventy-one persons; 430 rations per month, at 50 cents=$1,065 per month; 56 to 80 animals; forage cannot be correctly estimated.

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Recapitulation: For first year.
Pay of officers and assistants $29,000
Pay of employés 32,640
Subsistence 71 persons, at 50 cents per day 12,000
Wagons, mules, and forage for transportation of parties in the field 9,500
Camp equipage, (25 tents, cooking utensils, axes, &e.,) 3,000
Instruments, (depends upon the number on hand,) pay 3,000
Transportation of supplies from depots, (conjectural) 9,000
Traveling: expenses of individuals, (conjectural) 2,000
Miscellaneous 2,000