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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Petersburg in Dinwiddie County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

“The Strongest Line of Works Ever Constructed”

The Breakthrough Trail

 

—Pamplin Historical Park —

 
"The Strongest Line of Works Ever Constructed" Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, April 23, 2007
1. "The Strongest Line of Works Ever Constructed" Marker
Inscription. The main line of entrenchments behind you was only one part of the entire defensive network established here by the Confederates. Southern soldiers removed all the trees in front of their works to create a clear field of fire. They used the wood to improve their fortifications, build winter quarters, or as fuel for heating and cooking. They also established a variety of obstructions in front of their lines.

Abatis, a French military term, served essentially as the Civil War-version of barbed wire. The Confederates interlaced these solid rows of pointed tree branches and tangled brush at various intervals from their main fortifications to pin down attackers at optimum rifle range. Fraise, another French word, was a line of thick, sharpened limbs and branches buried in the ground at an angle to act as a barrier to assault. Occasionally the Confederates would string telegraph lines as trip wires throughout the open fields.

Pamplin Historical Park has removed the vegetation on selected portions of the battlefield to restore the landscape to its 1865 appearance, thus recreating the visual relationship between Confederate defenders and Union attackers. Today these clearings are discreet breaks in the forest. In 1865, this ground was nearly as barren as a desert.
 
Erected by
Marker on the Breakthrough Trail image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, April 23, 2007
2. Marker on the Breakthrough Trail
The fortifications can be seen in the photo, partially obscuring the marker.
Pamplin Historical Park.
 
Location. 37° 10.785′ N, 77° 28.49′ W. Marker is near Petersburg, Virginia, in Dinwiddie County. Marker can be reached from Duncan Road (Virginia Route 670), on the left when traveling south. Click for map. Marker is in Pamplin Historical Park, on the Breakthrough Trail. Marker is in this post office area: Petersburg VA 23803, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. McGowan’s South Carolina Brigade (within shouting distance of this marker); The Confederate Fortifications (within shouting distance of this marker); Petersburg Breakthrough Battlefield (within shouting distance of this marker); The Attack Begins (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Breakthrough Trail (about 300 feet away); Sergeant John E. Buffington (about 300 feet away); The Hart Farm (about 300 feet away); Lieutenant Colonel George B. Damon (about 400 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Petersburg.
 
More about this marker. The top of the marker contains a war-time photograph with the caption, “This view captures the outside of Union Fort Sedgwick, located about eight miles southeast of here. It shows abatis and fraise located in front of the fort."
 
Also see . . .
Confederate Fortification image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, April 23, 2007
3. Confederate Fortification
These earthworks, occupied by Confederate troops during the April 2, 1865 Breakthrough, are located a short distance from the marker.

1. Breakthrough at Petersburg. The American Civil War website. (Submitted on January 17, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.) 

2. The Breakthrough Trail. Pamplin Historical Park website. (Submitted on January 17, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.) 

3. The Final Assault. The Civil War Siege of Petersburg. (Submitted on January 17, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.) 
 
Categories. War, US Civil
 
Field Fortifications image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, April 23, 2007
4. Field Fortifications
These reconstructed Field Fortifications, located in Pamplin Historical Park near the Breakthrough Trail, shows examples of gun emplacements and obstructions such as Abatis and Fraise.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 939 times since then and 78 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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