See Article History Alternative Titles: fortress, stronghold Fortification, in military scienceany work erected to strengthen a position against attack. Fortifications are usually of two types: permanent and field.
Permanent fortifications include elaborate forts and troop shelters and are most often erected in times of peace or upon threat of war.
Field fortificationswhich are constructed when in contact with an enemy or when contact is imminentconsist of entrenched positions for personnel and crew-served weapons, cleared fields of fire, and obstacles such as explosive mines, barbed-wire entanglements, felled trees, and antitank ditches.
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Both field and permanent fortifications often take advantage of natural obstacles, such as canals and rivers, and they are usually camouflaged or otherwise concealed. Both types are designed to assist the defender to obtain the greatest advantage from his own strength and weapons while preventing the enemy from using his resources to best advantage.
This article discusses military fortification since the strategies for options forts of rifled artillery and small arms.
For discussions of fortification up to the modern era, see military technology. The American Civil War In the American Civil War, field fortifications emerged as an essential of warfare, with both armies employing entrenchments to an extent never before seen.
Troops learned to fortify newly won positions immediately; employing spades and axes carried in their packs, they first dug rifle pits and then expanded them into trenches.
Early in the war, General Robert E. Two notable siegesthat of VicksburgMiss.
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In the Cold HarborVa. Grant sent his troops against Confederate earthworks, he lost 14, men in 13 days.
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Field mines and booby traps were used extensively, and trench mortars were developed to lob shells into opposing trenches. Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content.
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Even the bitter experiences of appalling losses in the Crimean, Franco-German, and South African Boer wars failed to lessen an ardour for the theory of the offensive that was so fervent as to strategies for options forts little concern for defensive tactics in the field. Few took notice of the immense casualties the Turks inflicted from behind field fortifications in the Russo-Turkish War of —78, and even though the Russo-Japanese War soon after the turn of the century underscored the lethal power of the machine gun and breech-loading rifled artillery, most European commanders saw the increased firepower strategies for options forts more a boon to the offensive than to the defensive.
The fallacy of the faith in offensive firepower was soon convincingly demonstrated. Once the French had checked the German right wing at the Marne Riverthe fighting degenerated into what was in effect a massive siege. For miles 1, kilometresfrom Switzerland to the North Seathe landscape was soon scarred with opposing systems of zigzag, timber-revetted, sandbag-reinforced trenches, fronted by tangles of barbed wire sometimes more than feet 45 metres deep and featured here and there by covered dugouts providing shelter for troops and horses and by observation posts in log bunkers or concrete turrets.
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The trench systems consisted of several lines in depth, so that if the first line was penetrated, the assailants were little better off. Rail and motor transport could rush fresh reserves forward to seal off a gap faster than the attackers could continue forward.
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- Fortification | military science | Britannica
- И Хилвар и Олвин каким-то образом поняли, что оно вовсе не направлено против них и, более того, что оно служит их защите.
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The fighting involved masses of men, masses of artillery, and masses of casualties. Toxic gases—asphyxiating, lachrymatory, and vesicant—were introduced in a vain effort to break the dominance of the defense, which was so overpowering that for more than two years the opposing lines varied less than 10 miles in either direction.
During the winter of —17, the Germans prepared a reserve trench system, the Hindenburg Linecontaining deep dugouts where the men could take cover against artillery fire and machine guns emplaced in concrete shelters called pillboxes.
Approximately two miles behind the forward line was a second position, almost as strong. The Hindenburg Line resisted all Allied assaults inincluding a vast British mining operation under the Messines Ridge in Belgium that literally blew up the ridge, inflicting 17, casualties at one blow; the advance failed to carry beyond the ridge.
Permanent fortification, —45 World War I Most defensive thinking on the eve of World War I was reserved for the permanent fort, which was designed to canalize enemy advance and to afford time for national mobilization. The leading fortification engineer of the time was a BelgianHenri Brialmont.
At Antwerp his defense system was even more dense. He protected the big guns of his forts with turrets of steel and developed disappearing cupolas. Some forts were pentagonal, others triangular, with much of the construction underground. In building defenses along the frontier facing GermanyFrench engineers emulated Brialmont, with particularly strong clusters of fortresses at Verdun and Belfort.
Namuralso heavily fortified, resisted the powerful Big Bertha guns for only four days.