Fort Terminology - The Main Fort

jrweaver

Corporal
Joined
Dec 9, 2020
That's my overview of fort terminology. If there are terms that I didn't include, please let me know. Also, I am open to other thoughts about these terms. A good debate is always welcome!

I hope this thread was both interesting and useful.
 

jrweaver

Corporal
Joined
Dec 9, 2020
Would it be possible to do a similar thread on battlefield fortifications and entrenchments?
I have a little bit of knowledge in that area, but it's outside my specialty - masonry forts. I'll take a look at some of my source material and see what I can do.
Do you have any specific information that you are looking for? That would give me a place to start looking.
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
That's my overview of fort terminology. If there are terms that I didn't include, please let me know. Also, I am open to other thoughts about these terms. A good debate is always welcome!

I hope this thread was both interesting and useful.

@jrweaver ,

Your overview was more than just interesting and useful.

It shined a light in a formally dark corner of the Civil War for me.

Thanks for the lesson.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 

jackt62

Captain
Member of the Month
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Location
New York City
I have a little bit of knowledge in that area, but it's outside my specialty - masonry forts. I'll take a look at some of my source material and see what I can do.
Do you have any specific information that you are looking for? That would give me a place to start looking.
I've read a good narrative of fortifications in the east by Earl Hess that explains how entrenchments influenced warfare. I guess what I would like to see is a technical description with diagrams and photos of the different means and methods of engineering, similar to what you did with your fort series.
 

Irishtom29

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 21, 2008
Location
Kent, Washington
That's my overview of fort terminology. If there are terms that I didn't include, please let me know. Also, I am open to other thoughts about these terms. A good debate is always welcome!

I hope this thread was both interesting and useful.

I know you're going by Third System definitions but I consider the casemated structures at the corners of Clinch and Gaines to be caponiers, not bastions. They are quite small with very short faces; they had only one gun that commands the glacis and are intended almost exclusively for ditch control. Such structures are common on the English Palmerston forts and are there considered caponiers. Given that Clinch and Gaines were modern post bastion era Prussian style polygonal forts with Carnot scarps and long curtains that reflected a new emphasis on direct fire I think considering the structures caponiers is reasonable.

Besides, it's more fun to consider them caponiers, bastions are a dime a dozen. ;-)

BF208E83-E1EF-45DA-8939-D62E439AC4D6.jpeg
 
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jrweaver

Corporal
Joined
Dec 9, 2020
I know you're going by Third System definitions but I consider the casemated structures at the corners of Clinch and Gaines to be caponiers, not bastions. They are quite small with very short faces; they had only one gun that commands the glacis and are intended almost exclusively for ditch control. Such structures are common on the English Palmerston forts and are there considered caponiers. Given that Clinch and Gaines were modern post bastion era Prussian style polygonal forts with Carnot scarps and long curtains that reflected a new emphasis on direct fire I think considering the structures caponiers is reasonable.

Besides, it's more fun to consider them caponiers, bastions are a dime a dozen. ;-)

View attachment 386554
That's an interesting analysis. Totten reduced the size of bastions on his forts, calling them "tower bastions." Forts like Delaware and Totten had bastions about the same size as those on Gaines and Clinch.
It is really hard to separate the terminology between small bastions and caponiers. My main thought would be simply a generality - bastions are usually located at the salients of a fort and caponiers generally extend from the midpoint of a curtain.
Good thoughts!
 

jrweaver

Corporal
Joined
Dec 9, 2020
Ahh. Vauban himself used tower bastions at Belfort and Neuf Brisach though in conjunction with counterguards which kind'a acted as bastions.
This is a tower bastion at Fort Delaware.
IMGP2122.JPG


This is the tower bastion at the junction of the two primary seacoast fronts at Fort Totten, East River, New York City.
IMGP0907.JPG


Tower bastion at Fort Richmond, The Narrows, New York Harbor
2-11 Richmond Scarp.jpg


Tower bastions at Fort Taylor, Key West, FL.
12-8 Taylor Eastman Sepia.jpg


Tower bastion at Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas, FL.
12-13 Jefferson Scarp and Barbette.jpg
This is longer, but still very narrow.

As you can see, this is the way Totten designed bastions. They certainly have some of the characteristics of caponiers, as well.
 

A. Roy

Sergeant Major
Forum Host
Joined
Sep 2, 2019
Location
Raleigh, North Carolina
I've read a good narrative of fortifications in the east by Earl Hess that explains how entrenchments influenced warfare. I guess what I would like to see is a technical description with diagrams and photos of the different means and methods of engineering, similar to what you did with your fort series.

I recently read Hess's Field Armies and Fortifications in the Civil War. Also Mahan's 19th-century Treatise on Field Fortifications. Even so, I still feel that I have only a rudimentary grasp of the topic. A presentation on that subject similar to what @jrweaver has done here would be exciting!

Roy B.
 
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