Fort Hell

civilwarincolor

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Oct 27, 2012
Location
California
Bomb-proof quarters in Fort Sedgwick in front of Petersburg, Va. Quarters of men in Fort Sedgwick, generally known as "Fort Hell"

32449_w.jpg
 

AUG

Major
Retired Moderator
Joined
Nov 20, 2012
Location
Texas
Great work! There were a lot of good photographs taken of Forts Sedgwick and Mahone by Mathew Brady; Sedgwick was actually the most photographed fort at Petersburg. Sedgwick was called "Fort Hell" because it was so close to enemy lines and constantly drew artillery and sharpshooter fire. It was located along the Jerusalem Plank road. The Confederate Fort Mahone, named "Fort Damation" was only a few hundred yards northeast of Fort Sedgwick.

Here are the links to a couple of good maps of the fort
http://www.history-map.com/picture/002/Sedgwick-Fort-Map.htm
http://26nc.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Fort-Hell-I-001.jpg
 
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civilwarincolor

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Oct 27, 2012
Location
California
Great work! There were a lot of good photographs taken of Forts Sedgwick and Mahone by Mathew Brady; Sedgwick was actually the most photographed fort at Petersburg. Sedgwick was called "Fort Hell" because it was so close to enemy lines and constantly drew artillery and sharpshooter fire. It was located along the Jerusalem Plank road. The Confederate Fort Mahone, named "Fort Damation" was only a few hundred yards northeast of Fort Sedgwick.

Here are the links to a couple of good maps of the fort
http://www.history-map.com/picture/002/Sedgwick-Fort-Map.htm
http://26nc.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Fort-Hell-I-001.jpg

Thanks for the compliments and the link. This image was a customer request and it was interesting to dig around in the picture (as it usually is) and see the details in the full size version. I think it is really a shame that none of these forts survive. I've been to Fort McCallister in Savannah and I really think it is one of the more interesting CW locations because it is so organic. A location like this would really be able to put you so much more in the moment if you could visit it today. The map helps though.
 

civilwarincolor

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Oct 27, 2012
Location
California
Great Job.........Looks like they had a fireplace for food or heat....

Yes, actually there seemed like there was a lot of them. When you look at the full size version (the version I posted is only about 1/4 size) you can really see a lot of chimneys. While I was working on it I was thinking about it in comparison with similar types of chimneys on other Union forts. You see the barrels used to extend the chimney (can anyone say fire hazard?) and the base that the barrel is mounted on. The big noticeable difference is that in the ones I have looked at the other Union forts the base is made of brick, while in this one all of them (and there are a number here) are all made of wood and dried mud.

While this image appears to have been taken on a dry day just after surrender I suspect one of the reasons it was referred to as "Fort Hell" (besides being constantly shelled by Confederate troops) was that it would be a miserable place to live even in the best of conditions. Can you imagine what this place would have been like during a good strong rainstorm? It would suck so bad, I have to imagine that the water would be pouring into the holes and tunnels, just awful!
 
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civilwarincolor

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Oct 27, 2012
Location
California
this is cool, I dont think Ive seen this fort before, you did a good job on it!!!!

Thanks. This one is from a print. I usually like to keep to ones that are from negatives, but it was a customer request and I could not find the original negative for the plate.

I just went back and looked at the LOC source for this and realized that there was another plate from the text on the back. Here is the excerpt from that text:

Quarters of Men in Fort Sedgwick, generally known as "Fort Hell."

This view exhibits the bomb-proof quarters occupied by both officers and men in Fort Sedgwick. Excavations were made in the ground, and covered first with heavy pieces of timber, over which a layer of earth, of several feet in thickness, is thrown, sufficient to resist the penetration and explosion of any shell that might fall upon them. The interior of these habitations were made as comfortable as possible, according to the taste of the proprietor. Each had its fire-place, and in the absence of brick and stone, sticks of wood and barrels were used to build the chimneys, being well plastered in the interior by mud to prevent them from taking fire. In many works, regular bomb-proof quarters were constructed. The scene presents a singular and grotesque appearance--to be appreciated it must be seen; no description will prove adequate. Few know the hardships and discomforts through which soldiers have to pass, and still they appear happy and contented. Fort Sedgwick is one of the most advanced points of the United States lines, standing boldly forward and constantly inviting attack. The work is a very irregular one, and is thrown across the Jerusalem Plank Road, one of the most important thoroughfares leading out of Petersburg. It is a place of very great interest, on account of its exposed and prominent position for so long a period. Scarcely a day passed without witnessing a heavy artillery duel, and each hour of those many long and weary months, as two brave armies lay opposite to each other, could be heard the shill, sharp report of some leaden messenger of death. It was here, as elsewhere, that only the reckless would dare expose the slightest part of the person even for a second, and well does this noted spot deserve the not very euphonious name to ears polite, as given by the soldiers, of "Fort Hell"

Nearly opposite to this work is Fort Mahone, know by the men as "Fort Damnation." The distance between the main lines here is about fifteen hundred feet, and between the pickets two hundred, the latter almost as strong as the former. On the morning of the 2d of April, 1865, this ground became consecrated and holy to the memory of the brave soldiers who in that glorious assault upon the opposing batteries, and to those who so courageously defended their post of honor--it was strewn with the dead and dying.​
 

DixieRifles

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Collierville, TN
Great image.
I remember driving by the historical marker when I was in Petersburg visiting my brother back in the 60's.
 

AUG

Major
Retired Moderator
Joined
Nov 20, 2012
Location
Texas
Thanks for the compliments and the link. This image was a customer request and it was interesting to dig around in the picture (as it usually is) and see the details in the full size version. I think it is really a shame that none of these forts survive. I've been to Fort McCallister in Savannah and I really think it is one of the more interesting CW locations because it is so organic. A location like this would really be able to put you so much more in the moment if you could visit it today. The map helps though.
Some of the forts around Petersburg are still very well preserved, such as Fort Stedman and Haskell, Fort Gregg, Fort Harrison, etc. I am not sure what has become of Fort Sedgwick or Mahone, although I don't think they still exist, at least not intact.
 

civilwarincolor

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Oct 27, 2012
Location
California
Some of the forts around Petersburg are still very well preserved, such as Fort Stedman and Haskell, Fort Gregg, Fort Harrison, etc. I am not sure what has become of Fort Sedgwick or Mahone, although I don't think they still exist, at least not intact.

The next time I make it back East I hope to be able to spend more time in the area visiting CW locations. I did not make it back this year and am trying to put together 1-2 trips for 2014.
 

Custers Luck

Sergeant Major
Joined
Jul 22, 2013
Location
Chesterfield VA.
wow thanks for the info, its amazing there were so close to each other, and then you were stuck there dug in to the ground, it would be like a living cemetery , how terribly awful.
 

civilwarincolor

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Oct 27, 2012
Location
California
wow thanks for the info, its amazing there were so close to each other, and then you were stuck there dug in to the ground, it would be like a living cemetery , how terribly awful.

Thanks. I'm surprised that I missed the write up before. I usually try to write up a narrative to go with my images when I post them on my site (this one has not been posted yet), but this time I think I will go with the original description. Really helps to put you in the moment.
 

civilwarincolor

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Oct 27, 2012
Location
California
Another stereo view from my collection, this one taken well after the war.

Thanks for sharing that. I love the stereo views. I looked at this one in 3D, Unfortunately there is not much exciting that "pops" out in this image. I looked through the other CW stereo cards that the LOC has and found 14 ones for Fort Hell here. Of course they are also part of my Civil War stereo card DVD set here.
 
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