This living history has been designed to have the following objectives:
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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
Further Reading on Chevaux-de-Fraise (CDF)
(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.
"With Pick & Spade 2010" How-To-Build a CDF
Further Reading on 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.
- 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 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.
Further Reading on Abatis
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.
- Civil War Field Fortifications Website Glossary Definition
- Civil War Field Fortifications on Obstructions
"With Pick & Spade 2010" How to build Abatis