The development of the use of earthworks in war between civilized nations has been due to the adoption and increase of power of long-range firearms.
The introduction of the breech-loading rifle, of comparatively recent date, has served to give a still greater impetus to the subject of fieldworks for the protection of the forces engaged, and to-day the spade is second in importance only to the rifle.
“Hasty entrenchments,” as they are known by soldiers, were first used largely in the American Civil War
Even at that time, General Sherman
expressed his belief that earthworks, and especially field-works, were destined to play a conspicuous part in all future wars, since they enabled a force to hold in check a superior one for a time, and time is a valuable element in all military operations.
At the beginning of the Civil War
, the opinion in the North and South was adverse to the use of field-works, for the manual labor required to throw them up was thought to detract from the dignity of a soldier.
The opinion prevailed in some quarters that masked batteries were not devices of civilized warfare; and the epithet of “dirt-diggers” was applied to the advocates of entrenchments.
Expressions were heard to the effect that the difference ought to be settled by “a fair, standup fight, in the open.”
“Self-preservation” as a law of nature, and “necessity,” as the mother of invention, soon impressed themselves, however, on the officers and men confronting one another in the field — the