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“Soft” walls better defenses than “hard” --Fort Sumter In 1863, the stone walls of Sumter were soon breached by the guns of the Federal fleet, but behind the breaches rose many feet of gabions filled with earth. These were replaced as fast as the guns of the fleet dislodged the soft earth. General G. T. Beauregard wrote in his official report of February 8, 1863: “The introduction of heavy rifled guns and iron-clad steamers in the attack of masonry forts has greatly changed the condition of the problem applicable to Fort Sumter when it was built, and we must now use the few and imperfect means at our command to increase its defensive features as far as practicable.” This beautiful view of Fort Sumter in 1865, clear in every detail, one of Barnard's photographic masterpieces, shows the battered parapets of the Fort strengthened again and again by gabions. The humble baskets not only served this purpose, but kept flying pieces of the more solid construction which they reinforced from maiming the garrison. One would hardly imagine that the declivity in the center of the mass of gabions had once been a well-chiseled flight of steps. This kind of fortification deteriorated very rapidly unless constantly repaired. In Sumter the work of repairing was particularly heavy, following one bombardment after another throughout the four years of the war. It was not until February 17, 1865, after Sherman's great march, that the Fort was evacuated.

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