"By demonstrating the inadequacy of its coastal defenses, the War of 1812 led to the establishment of a Board of Engineers charged with studying US defense policy. This, the first thorough study of the policies developed by that board, supersedes Jamie W. Moore's The Fortifications Board, 1816-1828 (1981) and John R. Weaver II's A Legacy in Brick and Stone: American Coastal Defense Forts of the Third System, 1816-1867 (2001). The author's thoroughly researched analysis deftly places the Corps of Engineers and the system it devised in the political and military context of the 1820s-50s, demonstrating the consistent support political leaders gave to the defense strategy it embodied. Smith (Fort Valley State Univ.) rejects criticisms that the forts were ineffective, pointing out that such assessments rest on the damage inflicted upon Southern forts by the Union Navy during the Civil War, using rifled ordnance that was not developed until the eve of that conflict. Construction of the forts that formed the backbone of the system advanced professionalism in both engineering and the Army officer corps, and it significantly influenced the economic development of the locales in which the forts were built. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries."
"Solid and single-minded, this study argues that historians have been unfair to the builders of these fortifications. It maintains that Congress, and the engineers it hired, knew exactly what they were doing, . . . that despite the fact that Civil War historians have damned the forts for their obsolescence, Smith still drives home his point: America’s giant seaboard forts achieved their limited strategic goals."
Todd Shallat, author of Structures in the Stream: Water, Science and the U.S. Corps of Engineers
"Mark A. Smith's book, Engineering Security, is remarkable in its explorationof the transformational power of the Third System's implementation in military, economic, and political terms. In Engineering Security, Smith has impressively traced the development of U.S. defense policy throught the early to mid-1800s, as well as the rise of the engineers to the pinnacle of the military power structure."--On Point, The Journal of Army History