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Full text of "The history and construction of Fort Ethan Allen, Virginia / by Harold H. Franke"

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^ay, as I wend my way down the wind ad hilly 
road that Is known as Worth 'Hebe Road, I am struck by the con- 
trast In scene that must have existed between this country in 
Civil War time and the country around here as it aooeers today. 
Were I iot to Inquire at a house along the way, my only reali- 
zation that I was standing on this fort would be the sight of a 
sign which I would meet a stone's throw farther . -"nd 
lob would say something about: 

iAUTIFUL \T GOmiE tIC ... 

I am disappointed, for my layman- like eyes do not de- 
tect some revealing earthworks until an accomodating resident 
of the section known ss Walker Chanel (which includes the fort) 
noints them out to me. 

ie Confederate forces shelled in here," he says to 
me, "and those trees over yonder" - he noints - "show the effect 
of the shelling, for they have been left standing. Don't be 
surprised at the condition of this fort now, for ever since the 
war terminated the fort has been gradually leveled down. Mr. 
Vanderwerken, who is a heavy stockholder in the Washington Rail- 
way and Electric Conroany, bought from the government most of 
everything that had been left standing after the wsr. 

nese banks here contain tonsoll that hed been br< 
from all parts of the country. I have found ouite a few bullets 


these old trenches," 
I talked with r. Jos eon B. 
that his father had served as an officer In the Union 

ttioned that Mr, hitshall (this family no 3 the site of the 
fort) and his father served in the about 18 ye.°.rs together. 

■ ed me to go to Fort Marcy, which was representative of 
Fort Ethan Allen, and look for the trenches that had. been 1 

At the site of Fort arcy I was impressed with the 
deli ul scener- . r. . . ondleton took me oast his beauti- 
ful home into the rear terrace and oointed out to me a ti 

i far below and told me that it was Plmmitt Run. 
This interested me, for 1 re cross this sane str< 

somewhere in my reference work. Then I examined an old trench 
Lch . r. Pendleton s n far do e hillside.. 

trench which connected with Port Ethan Allen r'iT>in.' the Civil 

ch is a lon^ way of getting around bo the main pur- 
pose of these few oaragraohs . Right here and now I wish to thank 
these nelsons and all the others who were so accomodating to me 
auest for Information. Also orchids to the Congressional 
Library, the Public Library, and most of all to the Confederate 
Records Division oj p Department. 

h . H • - 4 . 
igton, D. C, April 13, 1938. 


The opening of the Civil .Var revealed the poor condi- 
tion the city of Washington was in for defending itself against 
possible attacks. Accordingly, such forts as tort Ethan Allen 
and Fort > arcy were built. ere not constructed, nrac tic- 
ally sue- . for the actual defense of isshin ;ton, but they 
formed a t tete-de-Dont at the Chain Bridge 

On September 24, 1861, General Tilth crossed 
the Chain bridge with his troops and seized the land which was 
to be the sites of Forts Ethan Allen and ■■■-. , ark was immedi- 
ately begun on these defenses, and they were soeedily finished. 

Fort Ethan Allen was a rather large work. It mounted 


34 . and was fully eouit)|ed with magazines and bombproof s . 

The two forts connected with e?ch other* by a sr-ries of 
rifle trenches. Fort Ethan Allen was built for the most pert 
of earthen embankments, and timber construction was uredominant. 
It, like all the other works of the same nature around ashin - 
ton, was designed to last for only a year. Fherefore, when the 
war was prolon . as found necessary to strengthen and nre- 
serve it for further use. Ls was completed, it formed 
a i lefensive . and was comnlete In every detail, 
never saw ?ny actual action, but r divisio all 

over the country were stationed in It at one time o"^ another. 



The following publications were used as references 
In the -rr> ^ n aration of this thesis: 

The Waahln >tar. 

The '.Vashington Post. 

A Guide to ilitar 'res in and About ffashi 

ton . 

;on Ci1 'ing the Civil War - Volume 

The Defenses of Washington, General J. G. Barnard. 



In April, In the year 1861, Port Sumter was attacked 
by the Confederate forces. Overnight the authorities, particu- 
larly those in . Washington, awoke to the fact that the Union 
defenses were anything "but adequate to core with the new emer- 
gency, ./a siting ton especially was In an alarming conditio;!. The 
American flag floated over the Capital of the nation, hut only a 
short distance away the stars and bars could he seen flying over 
Alexandria and Munson's Hill. To cope with the approach of an 
enemy by lnnd or water the Capital was practically defenseless. 
True, there was Fort Washington, but this military defense was 
twelve miles below the city — too far away to be of any Immedi- 
ate value in a time of necessity. The city was spread out over 
a large area, and the government buildings were at widely separa- 
ted intervals, rendering defense and protection from distant 
artillery fire a problem of difficult and expensive solution. 
Furthermore, '.lexandria was important to the safety of the Capi- 
tal, and any plan of defense would have to Include measures to 
occuoy and fortify this town. Also, within bhe two or three 
years previous, the effective range of field and siege artillery 
had been increased from one to three and even four miles. 

Ry 1862 the defenses about Washington consisted of 23 
forts south of the Potomac, 14 forts and 3 open batteries between 
the Potomac River and Anacostia, and 11 forts south of the Ana- 
cos tia River, but all this was not nearly enough. These forts 


and their armaments had been too hastily erected , and were too 
detached from one another to be satisfactory. Therefore, General 
J. G. Barnard, of the corps of engineers, an eminent scientist, 
distinguished soldier and veteran of the Mexican War, was plac 
in charge' of the revision, enlargement, and reconstruction of the 
entire system of works. He found that guns In embrasure were 
necessary, small forts had to be er. d, new batteries con- 
structed, connect". rifle pits sunk, and the great line of works, 
so rapidly pushed forward d the flral year of the war, had 
to be revised, improved, and strengthened. 

the Chain e, which spans the Potomac 2-3/4 
miles northwest of the Aqueduct e, was recognized from the 
first as one of the important vantage -points of the war -- in 
Jact, recognized thus^ by both opposing sides, for with the o r :en- 

of the war the northern end was Ld by the Union troops , 
while the southern was : by the Confederates. The Union 
authorities saw in the Chain Bridge a channel to their future 

,ivities in ' Lnia. As s< : • more pressing defensive ar- 
rangements had been made around Lngton and the newly levied 
volunteers had been given some degree of organization and disci- 
pline, General .. P. Baldy" Smith cros e wit 
brigade of these troops, and took up a position on the Virginia 
side, this movement being accomplished during the night of Sep- 
tember 24, 1861. At that date the Southern Army, under General 
J. E. Johnston, in position around Clentreville (Id miles south- 
west) and Fairfax Court House (12 miles southwest), occupied with 







its advance Munson's and Perkin 1 s hills and the village of Falls 
Church. Although the Confederates were only about six miles from 
the bridge, there was no appearance of force in its vicinity. 
The pickets did not molest Major D. P. .oodbury, a Union engin- 
eer, when he, previous to the passage, made a cursory examination 
of the environs and selected the site of l>ort Marcy as the first 
position to be fortified. A work, necessarily very irregular in 
outline, was laid at daylight and speedily armed with the aid of 
some auxiliary batteries and trenches, was a bulwark of defense 
for the bridge against hostile advance between the creek on the 
south and the Potomac, through which sector lay the best avenue 
of approach. To close the remaining cortion of accessible peri- 
phery, the olateau between Pimmitt Run and a rsvine opening into 
the Potomac, about 600 yards below the bridge, was selected, and 
the large regular work that was to be known as Fort Ethan Allen 
was laid out unon it by Major B. S. Alexander, and 'commenced the 
same day. 

This military fortification was named by General c- 
Clellan in honor of the brilliant and courageous commander of the 
Green r.iountain boys in the Revolution. It was orginally called 
Port Baker in honor of Colonel E. D. R aker of the 1st California, 
the members of whose regiment helred in tie construction of the 
work, v/hen the fort was built the only dwelling in the immediate 
neighborhood was a loghouse, occuoied by a family named Lintle'r. 

Of course, all of this extensive fortification work 
could not help but be accompanied by strong objections of the 

peo; ] hose property was of a necessity r issed . In the 
1 s of one old settl :■: 

"All country through he - woods and the Union 
troops stripped it clean. It was hard living with so many sol- 
diers around, re Union people, but they some times treated 

i li re rebels. You couldn't grow anything, bad a po- 

tato patch right here and the soldiers would di, ; ; ' e™ up bef 
the b to be the size of marbles. No fruit ever got ripe. 
You could buy all the land you wanted around he^e for }Z>5 an 

r*eas another old settler told a ton Star" 
newspaper man in 1913: 

"This part of the country Is up now, but during 
the war and for a long time after living was hard. the first 
place, the inhabitants were often treated as though working 
the service of the Confederacy, and it Is true that the sympathies 
of many of the people in the Chain Bridge neighborhood were with 
the South. The timber was cleared off, and the fields could not 
be well tilled. There were Confederate foraging parties, and J 
Federals also did some foraging. The timber was cut down because 

the forts and various batteries needed a clear field 
of fire, and because woodland might afford cover for attack." 

On October 25, 1862, a commission was appointed by the 
Secretary of ''/ar to "examine and report ""on a plan of the present 
forts and sufficiency of the present system of defenses for the 
. ". This commission consisted of: Brevet 3rigadier General J. 


G, Totten, 3 Lef nited States Brigadier General 

. J. Meigs, Quartermaster General "United States Array, formerly 
of the United States Engineers; " ' Her J-eneral W. P. Barry, 
chief of artillery; Brigadier General J. G. Barnard, chief engin- 
eer Defenses of Wash! ' • ! Brigadier General G. V. Cullum, 
United States Engineers, chief of staff to the General-in-Chief , 

The commission devoted t mths to the study and 
per- examination of the system of works, and reported that 
it consisted of four groups, as f d] rs: 

1. Those south of the Potomac from Alexandria to a 
point opposite Georgetown. 

2. Those at the Chain Bridge. 

3. Those north of the Potomac b >n the river and 

lacostia, commencing at Fort Sumner on the Poto- 
mac on the west and ending, with Fort Lincoln on the 
Anacostia on the east. 

4. Those south of the Anacostia and north of Oxen Run 
from For 1 Mahan near Benning's Bridge to Fort Grable 
nearly opposite Alexandria, 

The perimeter of the entire system was about 57 miles; 
the armament actually mounted was \ns and 75 mortars; i-he in- 
fantry garrison required was 25,000 men; the number of artiller; - 
men necessary to furnish three relic as 9,000. 

speaking of the J ain Bridge defenses, the commis- 
sion said: 

"The tvio works at the Chain Bridge, viz., Forts '.arcy 


an Allen, fc 3 oart of the defenses 
strictly . ost importance as a tete-de- 

\t to ■" rhich it is Indispensable to secure 

ad . osition is 3trong and LI oecucied. 
of rifle-trenches. connect the works -ach o1 

■ ver, afford, with ; Lliary batteries, 
1 view and defease of th< pods ravines Ive all I 
art al str ach the osition needs, "om 

Lc] the works can be commanded, and the approaches to them, are 
under the fire of the he :uns oJ erles Cameron, Parrott, 
'die, ver . af forts • rankli . 

e commission its that some defensive arrange- 
ments are necess • die.tely abo "• of the e; 
probably a"bout or three small works or oerhapa block-houses 
would suffice . " 

a to the supplies for the garrison, the commission 
it on to sa: : 

"Of the forts on t- thern side of the Potorrr 
Forts Ethan Allen i i pcy are supplied with twenty days 1 sub- 
sistence. They are annulled from a de-not of orovisions near the 
Chain . Lch also supplies the forts on the north side in 
the immediate vicinity. 

of water is generally good and secure, 
either from wells within the forts or igs under cover within 
easy reach. At certain forts it is indispensable that wells 
should be orovided. It would be an advar/ re they all so 




<'l&lJ®8k^ & 



provided, since In many instances the springs are within the 
rifle-pits and adjacent defenses, under cover. 

le conditions of the earthworks, slopes, etc., is 
sufficiently good for defense. In all the older a the frost 
and rain have done more or less injury, hut nothing serious was 
observed. Every soring repairs will be necessary at every fort." 

After the recommendation for increased Protection of 
Chain Bridge, a blockhouse .tss built at the ■ ;Inia end, and a 
stockade or heavily timbered barrier was built on the second si 
from that end, This was kept ooen by day, but with trooos on 

rd. It vms closed and s ■ • rorri sunset till dawn. 

As another measure of protection, part of the flooring of the 
first span — that scan next to the Virginia abutment — was 
taken up at night and nut down Light came. In addition 
to all this there was battery of field guns on the bluff on the 
District side of the river just sbove the Bridge and in prolon - 
ation of it. These guns were kept trained on the bridge so that 
if the barrier should be forced by an enemy, the fire of these 
guns would sweep the bridge. Barracks and other buildings were 
built of timber hewed and squared with axes. Stockades were 
built of tree trunks standing upright side by side. Log breast- 
works were built. Such things ere usual at up at the head of 
ravines or in other good rla^es to command the ravines, these 
wide sullies being thought to jive good ground for surprise at- 
tacks against the forts. 

Port Ethan Allen was strengthened by Increasing the 

Lckness of the parapets on the exposed, front. The magazines, 
originally of sawed timber, mainl; , rebuilt upon improved 
plans. ' ombproofs, one of which had a length of 190 feet, were 
so arr as to protect the interior space from direct or 
curved artillery fire from neighborin " . The site of the 
work was overlooked and commanded by the ridge "known as Pall's 
Hill, about lw miles distant, the occupation of >ve 

increased too greatly the length of the line around the Che" 
Bridge position. The . er, defiladed From these 
heights by th€ % and the faces ex I to enfilade were fur- 
ther protected by traverses, The sharp at . angle of the 

: bastion was isolated from the main wor 
zine, stockade, oof, as a ction TV, and this 

entire closed space was cover?- fire froTt these 

structures. A coverec ] ■ ] ' hch of 1 -tlon to 
trong advanced battery for six guns, aboi n s distant. 
The old bombproof, shown in section RS, of al for 

miction, 'ebuilt in accordance with the 

roved plan, section XY, at a period subsequent to the comple- 
tion of the drawing. e fort had a perimeter of 768 jar- 

ants for , 11 being 30-pounder rifled Parrot ts, 
3 12-] , LO-inch sie^e mortars. Ls was 

one of the st and most complete forts in its appoinl bs. 
After the buildings connected with it all completed, there 

The latter ••/ere built of logs and 
1th earth so a3 to be bombnro , outside were 100 



feet long by 20 wide and 20 high, made of hoards and buttoned, 
i'he line of inclosure by rifle-trenches was fully developed , and 
made nearly continuous to the margin of the Potomac above and 
below the brid 

The first labor done on Fort Ethan Allen was done by 
the 33rd New York, but other commands aided in comuleting it. 
Among these ?;ere the Iron Brigade (19th Indiana and 2nd, 6th, and 
7th Wisconsin), the 11th Rhode Island, the 79th and 133rd Mew 
York, the 22nd Connecticut, and the "Philadelphia Brigade" (69th, 
71st, 72nd, and 106th Pennsylvania). Detachments of the 138th 

169th New or': and 4th New York Heavy Artillery, the 40th 
Massachusetts and 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, and the 11th, 
100th, 120th, 126th, 127th, and 129th Pennsylvania were among the 
t^ooos that garrisoned the fort. The 127th Pennsylvania and the 
4th New York Heavy Artille^ re massed here and at Fort Larcy 
Immediately after the second Bull Run. 

At the beginning: of the Civil .Var, Washington was 
lly without protection; in a comoaratively short time 
every gateway to the city was covered with smooth bores and mor- 
tars. Every foot of ground was prepared for the advanta •' tne 
Union soldier in case of attack there. Every commanding height 
frowned on the ground below it from the cover of parapets. 
..asn.ington was encoirmassed by notable constructions of defense 
sufficient, as Early and his men learned through experience, to 
repulse an enemy even when manned by convalescents and recruits. 



•I OK 

PROFILES. - re original] la ac- 

cordance with th< eral sectlo ' orti- 

fic bions. e relief varied from 7 to 9 feet; the thickness of 
parapets between crests from 8 to 1 . exterior slope 

s 45 decrees, and the interior , or breast- ;ht slope, three 
upon one, with a plank revetment. A berm of 1 3 '■', -■ was left 
between the foot of the exterior slope and ed'je of the ditch, 
and to the see ■ -m a slope of t "/o upon . " form of 

le is snj only for temporary field-works, and experi- 
ence has shown that so ications were necessary to to of ,on tbst degree of durability whicb their 
prolonged maintenance demanded. The thickness of the par 
on . ■ s increased to nimum of 12 feet, and 

'rom 12 to 18 feet. ie erosion of the scares by the ac- 
tion of rain and frost was found to be so great, after a single 
winter, ss to annihilate the berrns end undermine th< pets, 
cau external portions to slide into the ditc . te 

this the and a uniform slor-e of A - ^ees, 

extending from the exterior crest to t of the 

was adopted. In most cases these exterior slopes -ere sod 
and those so treated were still in perfect preservation at the 
clo r. In so' T, e instances the scarns of the older 

works were revetted, eitt Lth planks, after the plan given in 
an's Field Fortifications, or with vertical posts. 


The width given to ditches defended, of course, on 
that assigned to the parapets, bb was -usually about 6 
feet. At a distance of a few feet from the counterscarp a 
glacis was thrown up, so as to br id in front of the 

works within the plane of musketry fire from the ets„ On 
the glacis a strong abattis was laid and secured, extending en- 
tirely around each fort. 

RE INTS. - The ordinary board revetment for interi- 
or earth slopes, adopted in the earlier wor s found to be 
incapable of resisting, for any length of time, the action of 
rain and frost, and to be, moreover, very perishable. Hence it 
became necessary to devise a more durable construction out of 
the materials at hand. When suit <ber, in sufficient 
tities, could be obtained, a revetment of vertical posts was 
generally adopted. This consisted of posts from 4 to 6 inches in 
diameter, of oak, chestnut, or cedar, cut into lengths of 5 
feet, and set with a slope of six i one in close con beet in 
a trench, at the floor of the breast-height, 2 feet in deptl . 
These were sawed off 16 inches below the crest snd. shaped to 
receive a horizontal capping piece of 6-inch timber, hewed, or 
ed, to a half round, as shown in the drawing on the next page, 
chor ties were dovetailed into the capping piece A and anchor 
log B. 

This kind of revetment, having sufficient durability 
for the purpose renuired, possesses this advantage over any oth- 
er, that a shot perforata' . die it may knock out 


one or even two posts, causes them to rotate In a vertical plane, 
whereas the timbers or splinters of horizontally laid revetment 
are, under the same circumstances, rotated horizontally, to the 
endangering of a much greater number of the defenders. 

The vertical post revetment - Lso sometimes applied 
to sca^s, and was frequently used to curtpil the slopes of ma 
zines, traverses, end bomboroofs, when the full earth slope 
would occury too much of the terre-oleln. In these cases the 
was nlpc.ed below the level at which an enemy's shot could 
strike the interior works . 

hen suitable timber could not be obtained, a sod re- 
vetment was used, which, though more expensive in original con- 
struction, is probably superior to any other, on account of its 
yielding no splinters and of its durability Y/hen properly laid 
and carefully attended to. sods were cut to a thickness of 

4 inches, in lengths of 18 inches, and widths of 12 inches. 
These were laid (grass d ard) so as to form a sod-wall of 
about 12 inches in thickness, built on a slooe of three upon 
one -- the earth of the parapet bein? carrl behind the re- 
vetment, end thor Ly rammed, simultaneously with the laying 
of the sod-wall. At vertical intervals of about one foot, a 
course of sods was laid transversely so as to bind into the 
parapet. Small pegs 3/4 inch in diameter and 9 inches long 
were driven through each alternate - Lnto the layers be- 

The interior slooes of some of the older v/orks , pre- 
viously revetted with plank, were repaired by cutting sway the 
breast-heights to a sloue of two upon one and covering the slope 
with sods laid on superficially, using, however, the post revet- 
ment in front of gun platforms. Ls slope was found to stand 
very well in clayey soils, and where the parapets had become 
thoroughly compacted by long standing, but would not in 
the construction of new works. 

The cheeks of embrasures, end in some cases the 
slopes of magazines and traverses, were revetted 'with gabions. 
For filling the gabions it was found that turf (usually the 
trimmings of sod revetments), thoro rammed, was the best 
material, as the grass soon enveloped the basket work and formed 
a durable revetment even after the gabions themselves had decay- 
ed. The turf-filled gabions were not affected by the blast from 
ins | whereas sand or earth was blc 'rom them by a few dis- 


charges . 

A.GAZINES, BOMBPROOFS. - The interior structures, 
magazines, bombproof s, etc., as at first built, partook of the 
temporary character of the works themselves. They were in ac- 
cordance (with some variation in details) with the plans given 
in Mahan' s Field Fortification. Though answering very well the 
temporary purposes which field works generally subserve, their 
mode of construction was ouite inadequate to the securing against 
moisture and the prolonged preservation of the large stores of 
ammunition maintained in the forts, and indeed the light frame- 
work of the interior was incapable of sustaining for long peri- 
ods the super incumbent esrth. Hence, after the first year's 
experience, when extensive repairs of the original works and 
the construction of new ones was undertaken, increased strength 
end durability , combined with more perfect security from mois- 
ture and thorough ventilation, were sought for. 

^OOFS. - There were two general rlans of bomb- 
proof s , those applicable to the works south of the Potomac, 
and those north of the Potomac, The first will be mentioned. 
Sections RS and XY of Fort J-] than Allen may then be described. 

The plates and sills were hewn to 12 inches souare 
and mortised, to receive the rost tenons, at points 4 feet a- 
part from center to center. The rear Posts were hewn on the op- 
posite side to a thickness of 12 inches, and cut in lengths of 
9 feet from shoulder to shoulder; the front ■ osts were hewn on 
the inside onlv, and cut to lengths of 7 feet between shoulders. 


These longitudinal bents were olaced 12 feet apart, from inside 
to inside of the oosts, and, when secured in position, the roof- 
logs '..ere applied. The roof- logs were not less than 12 inches 
in diameter and cvit to lengths of 17n feet, projecting over the 
rear plate 3 feet. This projection formed a base for a bancmette, 
from which a musketry fire could be delivered over the superior 
slone to the bombproof. The water-proof roofing was similar to 
that used in the construction of magazines. The interior v 
lined with 1-inch boar . id the rear wall was faced on the out- 
side with ordinary clao-boardi > . The floors were sunk from 3 to 
4 feet below the general level of the terre-pleln, and an area 
was excavated in the rear, on the level with the floor from 4 to 
6 feet in width, with slores of one and one-half on one up to 
the terre-nlein. This excavation not only rendered the bomb- 
proof quarters more habitable by exposing the whole rear wall 
to light and air, but it also formed an additional space nearly 
as safe from an enemy's fire as the bombproof itself. The slopes 
of this area were sodded, the bottom gravelled and connected 
with the drainage system of the fort. 

The earth covering on the bombproof s was reauired to 
be not less than 8 feet through, measured from the ends of the 
roof-logs, on a line rising therefrom with a vertical angle of 
30 degrees. The superior slone was one uoon six and the lateral 
slone varied from one unon one to two unon three. 3 resist 
the pressure of this mass of earth, on one side of the structure, 
tending to push it over to the rear, one in every two of the 

roof-logs was cut to a sufficient length to extend about 8 feet 
beyond the front wall, and was securely anchored to a longitud- 
inal log held in position by vertical posts — the anchor log 
being sufficients covered with earth to protect it from injury 
by an enemy's shot. 

Care was taken in the location of all these interior 
structures to make them subserve other purposes than that of 
mere rooms for the safe storage of ammunition or implements. 
Thus, at Fort Ethan Allen, all of these structures are also 
traverses, defilading the faces of this work, and are arranged 
with banquette and breast-height for infantry fire. The bastions 
and salient angles of the fort are isolated from the main work 
by these structures, and would with difficulty be held, if car- 
ried by an enemy, against the infantr;/- fire which could be 
delivered into them from the banouettes of these interior works. 
The " rtance of this principle may be appreciated by recall: 
the obstinate resistance made by the garrison of Fort Fisher in 
renewing the contest from traverse to traverse after the work 
had been entered by the Union troops. 

I PLATFORMS. - Gun platforms for field and siege 
is were constructed as folio s: e foundation of earth was pre- 
pared, by thorough ramrain . t such a level that the platform 
surface should be not less than 7-g feet below the crest. The 
planking was laid on sleeners bedded into the earth parallel 
with the axis of the embrasure, placed 2 feet apart from center 
to center. The sleepers "er<-> of round timber not less than 

roof-logs was cut to a sufficient length to extend about 8 feet 
beyond the front wall, and was securely anchored to a longitud- 

1 log held in position by vertical posts — the anchor log 
being sufficiently covered with earth to protect it from injury 
by an enemy's shot. 

Care was taken in the location of all these interior 
structures to make them subserve other purposes than that of 
mere rooms for the safe storage of ammunition or implements. 
Thus, at Fort Ethan Allen, all of these structures are also 
traverses, defilading the faces of this work, and are arranged 
with banquette and breast-height for infantry fire. The bastions 
and salient angles of the fort are isolated from the main work 
by these structures, and would with difficulty be held, if Car- 
rie'' 1 h an enemy, against the infantry fire whic Id be 
delivered into them from the banouettes of these interior works. 
The importance of this pr pie may be appreciated by recall! 
the obstinate resistance made by the garrison of Fort Fisher in 
renewing the contest from traverse to traverse after the work 
had been entered by the Union troops . 

: PLATFORMS. - Gun platforms for field and sie e 
guna were constructed as follov/s: a foundation of earth was ore- 
pared, by thorough rammi: . such a level that the platform 
surface should be not less than 7r. feet below the crest, 
plr is laid on sleepers bedded into the ;h parallel 
with the axis of the embrasure, placed 2 feet apart from center 
to center. The sleepers were of round timber not less than 9 


i riches in diameter and 18 feet in length, hewn on the upper 
side. On these were staked 3-inch planks, 14 feet in length, 

-.ransversel; . They v ere arranged with an ascent to the 
rear of 6 inches, to check the recoil and to cause the gun to 
return easily into batter*;-, hurter of 6-inch timber was 
placed at the for end of the -olatform at a distance from the 
uararet just sufficient to keep :_ Is of the c ;e clear 
of the re it. i.nd the hurter 2-inch holes were bored 
through the .to allow the ass off into Lna 

underneath. An imoroved gun- structed in t] 

later works, when suitable timber could be obtained, of 

iber, 6 Inches LO to 14 Inches wide. dvan- 

of t i timber flooring over clank consisted in greater 
firmness an- . ound that the smalJ 

field guns, such s 10- ■ Parrott . 12- 
zers . after *actlce, cut through the 3- 
. . - .t was generally important 1 

ossible field, of fire; ence a- 

'icial cases) , 
'. onsistent and 

cover e throat. >ns; 

in sev ■ . ver, wall-sc >r the ■■■•e. 

>und to be ver 'able, 

■•ed in times o: t. 
enever the r object, of limited 

>r its fire, it is desirable e snlay of the em- 

bra sure should be s minimum, not only because its opening, with 
increase LzeT, offers an increased object to the enemy's fire, 
but because the covering angles at the throst are weakened, Afith 
a view of adantin embrasures to particular circumstances, 
the following sketch and table were ripeoared : 

Artf/e of f/re of j/ege crows /'/} e#?6rctjctrej /><zra/>e6 f$~ feet th/bf(. Throat of e/ytArafwe JZ0 /& 


f-hoport'/a na &£ 
WcMi af 8m- 
brasi/re and" 


Wtc(th of 

embrasure at 



Axp/le cf fare. 



























ffiLLS. - all of the more important works , and es- 

oec those which, from their nosition, might be exposed to a 

siege or cut-off from water sullies in the re . sre provided 
with wells. These were sunk in some instances to very great 

deoths in order to obtain the necessrry supply of v/ater; thou 
generally It was found that a sufficient ■ 30 to 60 

feet. The wells, after being c^bed with brick, stone, or wood, 
•e from 3 to 10 feet in diameter. 

. - [he bhree sections sho 
represent different kinds of trenches connecting the 
works end forming the line of defense, or for furnishing a cov- 
ered fire noon groi; i co rtisuity to, but unseen from, the 
forts . 'of intet 1 

had, in niece thereof, earth slones of about 45 degrees. The 
earth was thrown up fro , - .ation, Loh was car- 

ried to sufficient deoth (usually 3 feet) to afford, in con- 
junction with the emba , :.-r of ; . e bannve^ 

ade on the natural surfsce of the ground. To facilitate 
access the trench, an inter- e sten, 2 feet in 
bro' 9 continuity of the earth slope. he bottom of 
trench was d to throw the drains ;;e to the rear, and outlets 
for it ■■ provided at suitable localities. For the usi in- 
fantry alone, a width of 5 feet was given to the bottom of fc 
trench, fro Lch resulted • . between crests, of 
par of 4 feet. arever i ; considered desirable to pro- 

f'or the Das,"£,ire of guns these dimensions -ere increased to 
8 feet for both trench and parapet, imes such trench.r 

ited to the 'ins , in which esses platforms of 

acted earth were made, and on each side of the embrasure 
the oarspet was revetted, either with wall-soddino; or roosts. 

- -20- 

embrasures were revetted either Ions or with sods. The 
full width of trench was cut to the rear of the platforms, with 
easy ramp 3 for crossing them and for running the ^uns into posi- 
tion. When the second form of trench was used to connect a fort 
with a contiguous "battery, the interior slope wrs usually revet- 
ted with oosts, instead of bein? of earth at its natural slope. 



7' 6* 

J' " 






7 = r 7777? 
















termination of the disastrous Virginia campaigns of the spring 
and summer of lb62, the necessity of giving Increased str 
and durability to the defenses was recognized, as has been pre- 
viously mentioned under the History of Fort Ethan Allen, and a 
permanent organization of supervision and labor was at once ef- 
fected and maintained until the close of the war. The works were 
divided into two subordinate departments, consisting respectively 
of the Defenses north and the Defenses south of the Potomac, and 
their immediate direction was r laced in charge of two civil en- 
ters, one to each of the above-named divisions; the demand 
for the service in the field being such as to preclude the pos- 
sibility of obtaining engineer officers for this duty. The 
civil engineer in charge of the works on the south (applicable 
to Fort Ethan Allen), Edward Frost (subsequently A. Grant Childs), 
had been, prior to the war, engaged on the Washington aqueduc I . 
He exhibited great zeal and intelligence, and soon mastered all 
those branches of military engineering which concerned his duties 
of construction. He was reauired to execute the plans prepared 
in the office of the chief engine r, to exercise a close suner- 
vision over his respective division, and generally to act as ad- 
ministrative officer in the details of the work. His subordin- 
ate organizations consisted as follows: 

draughtsman to nrepare plans, mar;s, etc. 
An assistant engineer to assist in laying out the wo:- 
from plans and to make the necessary field survey! or mans. 


A clerk to consolidate the daily reports of the work- 
ing force; to make out the monthly pay-rolls, keen accounts of 
purchases, and to prepare vouchers for payment; and to keen ac- 
count of property drawn on requisition trnon the quartermaster's 
and other departments, 

Ther'e were two or more superintendents, whose duties 
were to control and direct the laboring force; to keep the time- 
books, make daily reports of the occupation of every person em- 
ployed under them, as well as of the military details; to super- 
vise the camps and depots of material; to make requisition on 
the engineers in charge (who were the purchasing agents) for 
materials; and, generally, to aid the civil engineer by g a 
closer and more constant oversight to all the operations on eaeh 
subdivision than they could themselves exercise. 

Also there was a laboring force, which varied according 
to the necessities of the work. The laborers '/ere arranged in 
souads of from thirty to fifty men working under one foreman, who 
was required to exact from each man a fair day's work, to keen a 
record of the time made, reporting it to the superintendent each 
night, and to control them in all police arrangements of their 
portion of the camp.