Event Vision

This living history has been designed to have the following objectives:
  1. Demonstrate to the visiting public authentic construction techniques of Civil War Era siege warfare elements (i.e. abatis, chevaux-de-fraise (CDF), fascines, wire entanglements, a skirmish pit, gabions, etc.) 
  2. Enhance the park’s earthworks exhibit (located at Stop #3) to demonstrate the defense in depth of the Confederate and Federal entrenchments that ringed the City of Petersburg, and which facilitated the longest siege of in American history.
  3. To demonstrate to the visiting public the life, equipment and duties of the men in the 2nd Regiment of Engineer Troops, G Company around Petersburg in the summer of 1864.
Civil War Era Siege Warfare Elements

 Chevaux-de-Fraise (CDF)

  • Chevaux-de-fraise (CDF) were useful obstructions for roads and intervals between field works where it was undesirable or infeasible to construct more permanent obstructions.  CDF consists of a log approximately 6-8’ in length with a series of poles or lances driven at perpendicular angles in opposing directions.  The lances would be sharpened to a point and the logs would be chained or nailed together.  Living historians throughout the weekend will continue construction of a line of CDF at an appropriate point in front of the existing earthworks exhibit with period techniques and tools.
 Further Reading on Chevaux-de-Fraise (CDF)


    
"With Pick & Spade 2010" How-To-Build a CDF






 GABIONS

  • Gabions were a type of siege material used to form shot-proof parapets quickly and they were also used to revet interior slopes of works such as rifle-pits, trenches, bomb proofs, magazines and embrasures.  Gabions typically consisted of a cylindrical basket approximately 24" in diameter and 36" tall made up of pickets and small branches or vines.  The basket would then be filled with dirt to form a shot-proof material suitable for use in the works.  Living historians throughout the weekend will continue construction of Gabions for use in the earthworks exhibit with period materials and tools.
Further Reading on Gabions
        - Civil War Field Fortifications Website Dictionary Definition
        - Civil War Field Fortifications Website - Instructions on Constructing a Gabion
        - Civil War Field Fortifications Website - A Study of Fort Sedgwick's Gabionade Traverses
            
"With Pick & Spade 2010" How-To-Build a Gabion




 SKIRMISH PIT

  • Skirmish pits, either sited prior to an army’s occupation  of a position or by the first pickets sent out to act as an advanced guard, had the distinct advantage of allowing the pickets to maintain their posts in positions that would otherwise have been untenable.  Skirmish pits along the Petersburg front differed in construction technique, material and size depending upon their location.  Skirmish pits situated nearer the Appomattox River (aka 'Eastern Front') tended to be a series of narrow trenches connected to main defensive lines via a shallow covered way.  Existent Confederate earthworks at the site of the Crater (within the Petersburg National Battlefield) display this type of technique.  Rifle pits situated along the Boydton Plank Road Line (aka 'Western Front') tended to be constructed as a small pit with dirt and /or gabions piles up to the front (towards the enemy).  Existent Confederate skirmish pits located within Pamphlin Park demonstrate this type of construction technique.  



ABATIS
  • An abatis was a well arranged tangle of large limbs or whole trees felled with the branches pointed toward the enemy.  Smaller branches and leaves were stripped off and the remaining branches were sharpened into points.  The ends pointing toward the field work could be covered with soil, staked to the ground, or be nailed together with cross beams to prevent the enemy from easily dismantling the abatis as they advanced against the work.  Living historians throughout the weekend will initiate construction and installation of an abatis at an appropriate point in front of the existing earthworks exhibit (see attached sketch) with period techniques and tools.
Further Reading on Abatis
    - Civil War Field Fortifications Website Glossary Definition
    - Civil War Field Fortifications on Obstructions

"With Pick & Spade 2010" How to build Abatis