Glossary of fortification terms

Salient Curtain Flank Face

Parts of a fortification.This plan reflects the classic Dutch form of artillery fortification with the bastion perpendicular to the curtain walls. Included are some of the main features of a bastioned fortification. (From Harrington, 1978) abbatis Defence formed of felled trees the sharpened ends face the enemy. approaches Trenches built by besieging forces in the direction of the place under attack, bastion Formed projection, usually symmetrical, from the curtain on the side or at an angle of...

Offensive fortifications

The would-be attacker, seeing the difficulty of approaching these fortifications across an open field, could bombard the defences with various artillery pieces hoping to create a breach. But even if this succeeded, approaching the breach in safety would be virtually impossible because of the enfilading fire from the bastions and various detached outworks and forts. The besiegers would therefore 'lay down' a regular siege in the hope of starving the garrison into surrender. This was the tactic...

Thcentury theories of defence and attack

While military theorists had expounded on the concepts of attack and defence in numerous treatises, their theories presented the ideal forms and did not consider the practicality of many of the methods presented. Furthermore, their ideas for building elaborate stone defences failed to take into account the time involved in construction and the costs. As the Civil War was to prove, fortifications built hastily did not always reflect the standard principles of defence. Nonetheless, it is useful...

He sites in war

By speedy marches were advanc'd Up to the fort where he ensconc'd And all the avenues had possess'd About the place, from east to west. That done, a while they made a halt, To view the ground, and where t'assault Then cali'd a council, which was best, By siege or onslaught, to invest The enemy and 'twas agreed, By storm and onslaught to proceed. This b'ing resolv'd, in comely sort They now drew up ('attack the fort Hudibras There was very little use for field fortifications in the pitched...

Defensive Fortifications

Town Wooden Fortification

Af the outset of the war, the earliest forms of defensive fortification were simple mud walls and chains or turnpikes blocking roads and small earth or masonry additions to existing walls. Larger centres built forts connected by a ditch, while the major centres developed complex continuous bastioned enceintes. Mud walls, chains, and additions to walls Attempts at fortification were crude to say the least in the opening months of fighting. In some cases, the first action was simply to remove any...

The sites today

Basing House

Above Surviving Civil War fortifications, showing the Queen's Sconce and Stoke Lodge at Newark, Gallant's Bower, Dartmouth, and Horsey Hill, Cambridgeshire, the defences around Basing House. Hampshire, and the remains of the Royalist defences at Carmarthen. From Harrington. 1987 above Surviving Civil War fortifications, showing the Queen's Sconce and Stoke Lodge at Newark, Gallant's Bower, Dartmouth, and Horsey Hill, Cambridgeshire, the defences around Basing House. Hampshire, and the remains...

Thcentury fortification theory

It was in 16th-century Europe that the science of artillery fortification matured fully to counter the dramatic increase in firepower afforded by the development of gunpowder. The devastating effect of artillery against tall medieval walls and towers had convinced military practitioners that new forms of defence were needed to offset this offensive power. The resulting forms developed in Italy in the 1490s consisted of much lower walls with gun-ports and platforms, and with four-sided angular...