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Newport News, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Fortification Design

1862 Peninsula Campaign

 
 
Fortification Design Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 11, 2008
1. Fortification Design Marker
Inscription. The Confederate field fortifications constructed on the Virginia Peninsula were influenced by seventeenth-century French military engineer Marshal Sebastien le Prestre de Vauban and nineteenth-century American engineering professor Dennis Hart Mahan. Vauban designed superior fortresses with many fronts and bastions which presented an impenetrable defense in depth. He also revolutionized siegeworks by developing a system of parallels and zig-zag trenches for reducing fortresses with only minimal casualties to the attacking force. Vauban built over 30 fortresses, conducted 50 sieges, and wrote several engineering texts during his 50-year military career. His designs and writings influenced military engineers into the twentieth century.

Mahan graduated from West Point in 1824 and studied military engineering in Europe from 1826-30. He spent his last year at the French military school of engineers and artillery in Metz. There he read texts influenced by Vauban. Mahan returned to West Point in 1830 and taught there until 1871. As professor of engineering, Mahan instructed virtually every West Pointer who later served in the Confederate or Union armies. He wrote many articles and books during his 39-year tenure. His Triest on Field Fortifications was used extensively by Civil War engineers for constructing redoubts, bastion fortifications,
Marker in Lee’s Mill Historic Park image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 11, 2008
2. Marker in Lee’s Mill Historic Park
redans and other earthworks.

The fortifications at Lee’s Mill contained two types of earthworks detailed in Mahan’s book. The first was the breastwork with its chest-high parapet and interior ditch for protecting infantrymen. The second was the redoubt for mounting artillery pieces. This many sided fortification provided protection from enemy fire and slowed their advance. Confederate engineers Isaac St. John and Alfred Rives astutely situated the earthworks along the Warwick River and three redoubts above on the heights. Their fortification designs incorporated the natural landscape and delayed the Union advance from Fort Monroe and Camp Butler at Newport News Point.
 
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
 
Location. 37° 9.866′ N, 76° 33.916′ W. Marker is in Newport News, Virginia. Marker can be reached from Rivers Ridge Circle, on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is located along the walking trail in Lee’s Mill Historic Park, off Warwick Blvd. Marker is in this post office area: Newport News VA 23608, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Warwick-Yorktown Line ( within shouting distance of this marker); Lee’s Mill ( within shouting distance of this marker); Battle of Lee’s Mill
Fortification Design Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 11, 2008
3. Fortification Design Marker
( within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named The Battle of Lee’s Mill ( about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Union Occupation ( about 300 feet away); The Warwick River ( about 500 feet away); Lee’s Mill Earthworks ( approx. 0.4 miles away); Glebe Lands ( approx. 0.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Newport News.
 
More about this marker. A picture of Fort Monroe, c.1861 appears on the top left of the marker, next to the marker title. Also on the marker are portraits of Marshal Sebastien le Prestre de Vauban, and Vauban’s fortress at Lille, France.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Markers along the walking trail in Lee’s Mill Historic Park.
 
Also see . . .
1. The Peninsula Campaign. (Submitted on September 10, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.)
2. Tidewater Virginia, The 1862 Peninsula Campaign. Civil War Traveler. (Submitted on September 10, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.) 
 
Categories. Forts, CastlesWar, US Civil
 
Confederate Earthworks image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 11, 2008
4. Confederate Earthworks
Fortifications such as these are found all along the walking path.
Lee’s Mill Historic Park image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 11, 2008
5. Lee’s Mill Historic Park
This park contains a trail through the Confederate fortifications on the Warwick River. The marker is on this trail.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 10, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 1,966 times since then and 66 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on September 10, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.
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