The Union Troops at Petersburg – What they saw!

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If you were one of the Union troops in the 56th Massachusetts like Richard Clow in 1865, you’d have been looking out over the top of sand bags and trenches to the grassy slops beyond from which you would have expected the Confederate troops to come. In the distance you see the Chemin de Frises (Fresian Horses) named after the early cavalry stoppers invented by the Fresians in Europe. These logs, chained together with their projecting sticks would prevent a massed cavalry charge across the open field.  By the time the cavalry managed to cut the connecting chains and roll the obstacles out of the way, and momentum and surprise would be lost and they would be stationary on the field directly in front of the cannon and musket fire. Even infantry had a hard time getting past these obstacles. Note that once across the field the Infantry or cavalry would still have another big obstacle slowing them down in any frontal assault on this small fort (very similarly built to the one Richard Clcow occupied, Fort Alexander Hayes). That obstacle was the line of  “Abatis” (sharpened stakes and or bushes pointing directly out from the sides of the mud trench that needed to be crossed by the troops in assault. Note the sandbags and wickerwork holding mud walls that also protect the defending troops. A pretty formidable obstacle course, don’t you agree?

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