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Petersburg in Dinwiddie County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Field Fortifications

The Military Encampment

 

—Pamplin Historical Park —

 
Field Fortifications Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, April 23, 2007
1. Field Fortifications Marker
Inscription. Pamplin Historical Park has created these replica earthworks to suggest how this area might have looked during the winter of 1864-65. Both armies at Petersburg constructed long lines of field fortifications. Engineer officers used standard manuals in designing and constructing the earthworks.

Civil War earthworks basically consisted of a parapet and a ditch. The parapet was a dirt embankment raised high enough to provide the soldiers protection from enemy cannon and rifle fire. Most of the dirt for the parapet came from the ditch, which also served as an obstacle to an attack. A row of logs or boards formed the “revetment,” which held the dirt of the parapet in place as it was thrown up from the ditch. A firing step, or “banquette,” stood at the base of the revetment. Soldiers would step up onto the banquette and fire their weapons over the top of the parapet, which was known as the “superior slope.”

Artillery positions were located at intervals along the lines. These positions usually projected out from the main line so that the cannon in them could fire along the front of the fortifications and to either side. This “enfilade” fire increased the defensive strength of the earthworks. Depending upon their shape, they were referred to as redans, redoubts, or lunettes.

Openings
Marker in Pamplin Historical Park image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, April 23, 2007
2. Marker in Pamplin Historical Park
known as “embrasures” were cut into the parapets to allow the cannon to fire without unnecessarily exposing their crews to enemy fire. Embrasures could be lined with a number of items to give them strength, but the Confederates generally used sandbags. Because cannon placed in field works had to fire repeatedly from the same spot, engineers constructed wooden platforms to support the weight of the guns and to prevent them from sinking into soft soil and cutting ruts as they recoiled.
 
Erected by Pamplin Historical Park.
 
Location. 37° 10.871′ N, 77° 28.61′ W. Marker is in 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 the Military Encampment section of Pamplin Historical Park. 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. The Military Landscape (a few steps from this marker); Obstructions (a few steps from this marker); Tudor Hall Field Quarter (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Kitchen Garden (about 400 feet away); Confederate Winter Quarters
Field Fortifications image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, April 23, 2007
3. Field Fortifications
This gun emplacement shows a cannon in firing position in front of an embrasure in the fortification.
(about 400 feet away); Tobacco Barn (about 400 feet away); The Big House (about 400 feet away); The Plantaton Landscape (about 500 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Petersburg.
 
More about this marker. The top of the marker contains two war-time photographs. One shows “Typical Federal fortifications at Petersburg” and the other depicts soldiers standing on top of “A Confederate revetment at Petersburg.” The left side of the marker contains an illustration showing Elements of field fortifications. These include a Ditch, Revetment, Banquette, Embrasure and Parapet.
 
Also see . . .  Field Fortification Exhibit. Pamplin Historical Park website. (Submitted on January 18, 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
Examples of obstructions such as a ditch, abatis and fraise can be seen in front of the fortification exhibit.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 736 times since then and 55 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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