covered with earth.
Without timber, the parapets were often made as much as fifteen feet thick, to stop artillery fire.
A head log, under which the men could fire, was frequently utilized.
When struck by a large projectile, of course a log in that position was liable to be thrown backward and injure a number of men. Various methods were used to prevent its coming back, and one device, to prevent injury to the men in case it did come back, was to place skids under it, perpendicular to the line of the parapet, and extending back across the trench so that it would slide over the heads of the men.
Except for special works, all these lines were constructed by the enlisted men with very little direction from the officers, and foreign officers visiting the troops are quoted as being astonished very often at seeing troops of the line performing what, to them, seemed technical engineering duties which, in their services, would be done by trained officers and men.
The Confederates, on their part, occasionally were able to erect their works beforehand, for, when it was decided to retire, the decision was always arrived at deliberately, and time taken to survey the ground more thoroughly than was possible on the side of the assailants.
These works having been erected with more thoroughness than those in the immediate vicinity of the foe, more elaborate preparations frequently were made to defend the works.
Devices such as chevaux-de-frise
, consisting of logs pierced by sharpened spokes, were sometimes resorted to, and palisades were constructed in the ditches of strong works.
One historian has remarked that no clear conception of the remarkable campaign to Atlanta
can be had unless the difficult character of the country and the formidable nature of these artificial defenses are remembered.
Returning to the armies of the Potomac
and of Northern Virginia
, we find that, at Chancellorsville
lost precious time by stopping, after attaining Lee
's flank, and entrenching, instead of making an immediate attack; and another entrenched line — this time of value — was taken up after Howard