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Constructing gabions for Grant's attack on Petersburg The basket-like objects in this photograph are gabions. On the top of one row lie sand-bags. The soldier is seated on three short fascines, and in the background are some long fascines on another row of gabions. A gabion is a cylindrical basket with no bottom, which may be placed in a fortification and filled with earth. Gabions make an exceedingly strong defense, since the dirt remains even if the baskets are smashed. Thousands of gabions were used in the entrenchments of both attacking and defending forces at Petersburg. Fascines consist of small branches or twigs tied by wire or rope or thongs of some tough vine. They vary in length according to whether they are to be used in the construction of works or filling in a ditch. They hold the earth at a steeper slope than the natural slope when the earth is loose. Gabions are also useful for revetments from their perpendicularity; through sand-bags, a foot or two might be added to their height.

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