Online Tour Stop 12 - Loyalist Defense

digging for water
Loyalists dig a well looking for water

NPS | Steven Patricia

The Traverse
As an extra precaution, Cruger's soldiers built an elongated mound inside the Star Fort known as a traverse. It was a defensive position in the event that the attackers breached the fort walls. In addition, the traverse provided protection from the marksmen atop the rifle tower.

The Well
A tactic of siege warfare was to cut the enemy from supplies and necessities. The Loyalists had limited access to water due to Greene's riflemen guarding the Spring Branch. As a result, the loyalists attempted to find water by digging a well inside the Star Fort. After digging 25 feet and finding nothing but more dirt, slaves carried in buckets of water underneath the night sky using the communication trench.

covered way
Drawing of loyalists using the covered way or communication trench.

NPS | Steven Patricia

The Covered Way / Communication Trench
A trench ran from the Star Fort to the stockaded town and then from the jail to the Stockade Fort (on the western side). It was not actually covered, but was used for cover. It was the route for official couriers, Loyalist relief troops, and slaves who risked Patriot fire to bring water from Spring Branch to the Star Fort. With walls only three feet high, they had to crouch low to get through the passage unharmed.

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star fort animated
Animation of the Star Fort. Note the defensive mound in the center (traverse).  The cannon were placed on wooden platforms. Fraise were sharpened stakes protruding from the exterior fort walls.  The outer ring was abatis, or barbed wire-like entangled tree tops.

NPS | Great Divide Pictures

Here is a closer view of the star fort defenses, including the artillery, traverse, fraise and abatis.

Star Fort Well
Remnants of the well dug by the Loyalists inside the Star Fort


Last updated: April 14, 2015

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