Obstructions (HM1BQ7)

Location: Petersburg, VA 23803
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 10.859', W 77° 28.613'

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The Military Encampment

— Pamplin Historical Park —

Obstructions, like the reproductions displayed here, played an important role in Civil War field fortifications. These obstacles broke the forward momentum of assaulting troops and maximized and attacker's exposure to the defenders' fire.

Soldiers, under the direction of engineer officers, first cleared the land in front of their earthworks to create fields of fire. Leaving the stumps, they sometimes added wire to trip enemy soldiers as they tried to advance. The carefully arranged tangle of large limbs and trees with their branches pointed toward the enemy is known as abates, a French term like so many borrowed by American armies in the nineteenth century. In 1865, three or four lines of abates lay in front of the earthworks at what is not Pamplin Historic Park.

Directly in front of the ditch, engineers placed a line of pointed inclined logs called fraise. Though attacking soldiers could squeeze through the gaps in the fraise, they served to discourage the use of ladders and planks to cross the ditch and succeeded in disrupting enemy formations.

Chevaux-de-frise consisted of a ten-foot long log with sharpened stakes, known as lances, driven through to present a series of X-shaped spikes toward the enemy. Chains and hooks attached several of these obstacles together to block roads and other interruptions between earthworks.

"While we were?moving through the obstructions), seven of our?comrades were killed in?one place. It was dark but we were so close to their works that they could shoot us like rabbits." -Pvt. Lorenzo Barnhart 110th Ohio Volunteers April 2, 1865

Chevaux-de-frise at Petersburg
Earthworks with fraise at Petersburg
HM NumberHM1BQ7
Placed ByPamplin Historical Park
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, October 12th, 2014 at 1:26pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 280121 N 4117822
Decimal Degrees37.18098333, -77.47688333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 10.859', W 77° 28.613'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 10' 51.54" N, 77° 28' 36.78" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)804, 434, 757
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 6607-6667 State Rte 670, Petersburg VA 23803, US
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