Fortification Library

Irishtom29

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 21, 2008
Location
Kent, Washington
There's significant talk of fortifications here, both permanent and field works, and it occurs to me a basic library on artillery fortifications and siegecraft would be useful to many. I've owned many books on the subject but had to pare down when I took up motorhome living. So I'll list those books I think most useful.

If I could have only one book on black powder artillery fortifications, that is fortifications meant to both defend against and mount artillery, it would be Christopher Duffy's book "Fire and Stone: the Science of Fortress Warfare 1660-1860". The book describes the nature of the fortifications and the nature of the siege and the weapons used. The book has abundant useful illustrations, maps, diagrams and a glossary. Very well written.

Next would be Ian Hogg's "The History of Forts and Castles" a work on forts through the ages but very strong on the gunpowder age and the transition to rifled cannon and then high explosives. Another engaging writer.

"Firearms and Fortifications: Military Architecture and Siege Warfare in 16th Century Siena" by Pepper and Adams covers the early days of artillery fortifications and the transition from medieval to early modern fortifications with an emphasis on Italy where many of these changes and new designs first occured. Rather dry but very informative.

"A Legacy in Brick and Stone: American Coastal Defense Forts of the Third System 1816-1867" by our friend John R Weaver II is essential to the American fort enthusiast. The covers all aspects of the forts--their political and strategic goals, how they were intended to be used, their design and building and how they fared in actual war. Each fort of the system is described and the illustrations are excellent. Weaver has some interesting thoughts on the wartime performance of the forts that run against "common knowledge" and that reshaped my thinking.

We can finish up with "Vauban and the French Military Under Louis XIV: An Illustrated History of Fortifications and Strstegies" by Jean-Denis G.G. Lepage. The best book I know in English on the great fortress maker and breaker Marshal Sebastien Le Preste de Vauban. Has a very detailed description of the fortifications in general and their various parts and the cannon used and then detailed descriptions of the fortresses and forts built and improved by the man. It's illustrated with many excellent drawings that make things very clear. Great book.

These books will make the reader pretty well informed.
 

Lubliner

Captain
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
I am impressed and also indebted to the depth of knowledge both you and @jrweaver share here in this section. Just trying to get the right wing of one side versus the other correct in reading of battle actions from secondary sources (books) can be difficult for me. So these breakdowns and remarks made between both of you are of vast improvement to me. Thanks to both of you.
Lubliner.
 

NFB22

Sergeant Major
Joined
Jun 21, 2012
Location
Louisville, KY
When I was first getting to know @jrweaver I told him that his book is one of the go-to books in my library. A few other of my favorites are:

Lewis, Emanuel Raymond. Seacoast Fortifications of the United States: An Introductory History. Revised ed., Naval Institute Press, 1993.

Barry, James P. Old Forts of the Great Lakes: Sentinels in the Wilderness. Thunder Bay Press, 1994.
 

jrweaver

Corporal
Joined
Dec 9, 2020
Ray Lewis' book was the inspiration that got me involved in forts at the depth that I am. Ray was a great guy, and very supportive of me when I was putting together the first edition of Legacy. He died well before I had the second edition out - I wish he could have seen it.
Ray was quite a guy. He was the Librarian of Congress as well as a doctor of psychology, and was involved in computer software early in its development. He was a founding member of the Coast Defense Study Group and former chair of that organization, as am I. Military history became his passion - he was a veteran of Coast Artillery - and inspired many people who decided to follow in that interest. He is credited by many for the formation of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area for his work as both a military historian and Librarian of Congress.
I didn't get to know him until he was on in years, but I enjoyed talking with him. He had a very dry sense of humor. He called me one day about a technical issue on forts - I was flattered, of course - and he asked about my family. At that time my daughter had just graduated from college and was teaching in elementary education. He said, "I think you know that I was a college professor for a number of years, but if I ever had to teach in an elementary school I think there would be a murder-suicide involved!" We both burst out laughing.
 

jrweaver

Corporal
Joined
Dec 9, 2020
There's significant talk of fortifications here, both permanent and field works, and it occurs to me a basic library on artillery fortifications and siegecraft would be useful to many. I've owned many books on the subject but had to pare down when I took up motorhome living. So I'll list those books I think most useful.

If I could have only one book on black powder artillery fortifications, that is fortifications meant to both defend against and mount artillery, it would be Christopher Duffy's book "Fire and Stone: the Science of Fortress Warfare 1660-1860". The book describes the nature of the fortifications and the nature of the siege and the weapons used. The book has abundant useful illustrations, maps, diagrams and a glossary. Very well written.

Next would be Ian Hogg's "The History of Forts and Castles" a work on forts through the ages but very strong on the gunpowder age and the transition to rifled cannon and then high explosives. Another engaging writer.

"Firearms and Fortifications: Military Architecture and Siege Warfare in 16th Century Siena" by Pepper and Adams covers the early days of artillery fortifications and the transition from medieval to early modern fortifications with an emphasis on Italy where many of these changes and new designs first occured. Rather dry but very informative.

"A Legacy in Brick and Stone: American Coastal Defense Forts of the Third System 1816-1867" by our friend John R Weaver II is essential to the American fort enthusiast. The covers all aspects of the forts--their political and strategic goals, how they were intended to be used, their design and building and how they fared in actual war. Each fort of the system is described and the illustrations are excellent. Weaver has some interesting thoughts on the wartime performance of the forts that run against "common knowledge" and that reshaped my thinking.

We can finish up with "Vauban and the French Military Under Louis XIV: An Illustrated History of Fortifications and Strstegies" by Jean-Denis G.G. Lepage. The best book I know in English on the great fortress maker and breaker Marshal Sebastien Le Preste de Vauban. Has a very detailed description of the fortifications in general and their various parts and the cannon used and then detailed descriptions of the fortresses and forts built and improved by the man. It's illustrated with many excellent drawings that make things very clear. Great book.

These books will make the reader pretty well informed.
Thank you for the kind words! Legacy was quite the project, but an incredible amount of fun. The second edition, far more detailed than the first and in full color, was the product of 39 years of research! I found out early on that I couldn't trust secondary sources, and a lot of that work was before the Internet. I spent a lot of time at National Archives, Library of Congress, Military History Institute (now US Army Heritage and Education Center), and West Point library, as well as at each of the forts and appurtenant structures of the Third System. It was a labor of love!
 
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