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

The Ditch as a Second Line of Defense

 
 
The Ditch as a Second Line of Defense Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, November 27, 2009
1. The Ditch as a Second Line of Defense Marker
A tree fall damaged the marker, which was laying on the ground at the time these photos were taken.
Inscription. Around the outside of the central redoubt is the ditch, a significant obstacle attackers would have to climb through to assault the redoubt. At Fort Mill Ridge, the ditch also appears to have been used as a trench from which defending infantry could fire.

From the two southern corners of the redoubt, extensions, or covered ways, connect the ditch to the outer ring of entrenchments. The east-west line created by the covered ways and the ditch of the redoubt provided a second line of defense from attack down the ridge from the south.

At the corners of the redoubt are projecting earthen mounds, or traverses. These projections had several defensive purposes. They strengthened the corner by providing a location in the ditch for fire from the corner as well as a crossing fire along the face of the redoubt. The traverses provided protection for men in one segment of the ditch from explosions in an adjacent segment. They also helped prevent attackers from firing directly down the line of the ditch from the side. Additionally, the traverses could have been used as an additional earthwork from behind which to fire at attackers.

Tues 26. fair wether. I was wagon gard today. we went 8 mils after hay. thair was a drill this eaving. Wed 27. pleasant day. we had drill this eaving. Thur 28. pleasant day
The Ditch as a Second Line of Defense Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, November 27, 2009
2. The Ditch as a Second Line of Defense Marker
I was on furtigue today a diggin refell pits.
thair was drill today. Fri 29. the wether is pleasnt we had dress parid today.

Diary of Joshua Winters, May, 1863.
 
Location. 39° 19.422′ N, 78° 47.625′ W. Marker is near Mechanicsburg, West Virginia, in Hampshire County. Marker can be reached from Fort Mill Ridge Park Road, on the right when traveling east. Click for map. Located at trail stop 6 on the tour of Fort Mill Ridge Park. Marker is in this post office area: Burlington WV 26710, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Interior of the Central Redoubt (a few steps from this marker); The Central Redoubt (within shouting distance of this marker); An Outpost in Enemy Territory (within shouting distance of this marker); Control of the Mechanicsburg Gap (within shouting distance of this marker); Engagement with McNeill's Rangers (within shouting distance of this marker); Abandonment of Fort Mill Ridge (within shouting distance of this marker); Construction of Fort Mill Ridge (within shouting distance of this marker); The Civil War in the South Branch Valley (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line). Click for a list of all markers in Mechanicsburg.
 
More about this marker. On the lower left of the marker is a diagram
Southeast Corner of Redoubt image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, November 27, 2009
3. Southeast Corner of Redoubt
The redoubt wall (on the left) at the southeast corner. Note the traverse, in the center, and the ditch around the redoubt wall. Beyond to the right is a connection trench known as a covered way.
showing the profile of the works. On the upper right is an illustration showing soldiers at work constructing fortifications.
 
Categories. Forts, CastlesWar, US Civil
 
Covered Way Leading to Southwest Corner of Bastion image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, November 27, 2009
4. Covered Way Leading to Southwest Corner of Bastion
Southwest Corner of Bastion image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, November 27, 2009
5. Southwest Corner of Bastion
A traverse extends from that corner toward the camera. Notice how the ditch turns outward at the traverse, then around at the apex. As noted in the text, this arrangement blocked enemy fire along the line of the ditch.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 839 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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