British Foreign Policy 1815-65

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"Chevaux de Frise"

This information is taken from the American Civil War Field Fortifications Website and is reproduced here with the kind permission of the webmaster to whom thanks are due. Copyright, of course, remains with P. E. McDuffie. This document has been taken from its primary location on The Victorian Web.

Literally translated from the French, the phrase means 'Frisian horses'. In this context it refers to obstacles erected as a means of defence.

Chevaux-de-frise were useful for the obstruction of roads and intervals between field works where it was undesirable to construct more permanent and unmovable types of obstructions. They could also be used where the ground was either too hard or too soft to erect palisadings or stockades. Chevaux-de-frise could stop cavalry dead in its tracks, but really were not a serious obstacle to the passage of infantry. Because chevaux-de-frise were time consuming to construct and required special tools and some carpentry skill to bore the holes for the cross stakes (called lances) they were generally only used where armies had plenty of time and labor available to develop their field works. Like all wooden field works they could be shattered by artillery very quickly.

Chevaux-de-frise on Marietta Street, Atlanta, Georgia, USA




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Last modified 12 January, 2016

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