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Fort Urmstron:

Assessment of the Principal Earthworks:

The Federal "Fish Hook" Line, Petersburg, VA


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Description: Fort Urmston (MAP) was a six-sided redoubt with three short faces (21 meters) and three long faces (35 meters); positions for six field guns en barbette in the angles with ramps and platforms; original length of parapet about 168 meters, surviving parapet length 112 meters, average relief 3.0 meters, average width 6.4 meters; original outer ditch perimeter about 205 meters, enclosing 2,985 square meters; prescribed garrison 200.

History: built October 5-12, 1864, by 3rd Battery Vermont Light Artillery; named for 1st Lt. Thomas D. Urmston, 12th United States Infantry, killed at Peebles Farm; occupied by four light 12-pounders, two 3-inch rifles; garrisoned at various times by detachments Gibbon's Division, II Corps, Second Division, VI Corps, and 61st Pennsylvania Infantry.

Situation: located in stand of mixed woods, several large (12" DBH) pines, numerous smaller pines, gum, ash, heavy undergrowth; location adjacent to Flank Road and across road from church has generated foot traffic over the years.

Condition: generally in poor condition; about 432 square meters (17%) of redoubt destroyed by road widening, including southern face, ditch, and gun platforms 1 and 6; center of fort greatly disturbed by logging, gun platform 3 disturbed, evidence of old digging and backfill onto gun ramp 3, social trails entering at guns 3 and 5, compaction, erosion.

Barbette or en barbette (ahn bar-bet'): placing an artillery piece so that it fires over the top of a parapet as opposed to through a slit in the parapet called an embrasure. Barbette fire allowed the gun more flexibility, up to a 90-degree field of fire, but provided less protection for gunners than embrasures.

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