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Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/29

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Gordon's Assault on Fort Stedman. 21

Battery 5, and Fort Friend, the latter about three-quarters of a mile northeast of Fort Stedman.

The second line was not occupied by infantry all the while, but the troops were encamped behind these lines, and near enough to be thrown into them in a very short time if occasion required.

The Federal troops in the front line were relieved by fresh troops every few days, so that they were not subjected to the wear and tear of constant harassing duty and danger all the time, both day and night, as were the Confederates, who had only enough men to thinly occupy their one line of works.

A very short distance in front of the first line of works, each side had placed a heavy line of chevaux de frise, with an occasional open- ing sufficient to allow a man to pass through.

This chevaux de /rise, it may be well to explain to the unmilitary reader, consisted of square pieces of timber of convenient length, bored through at short intervals alternately from either side of the square, and wooden spikes eight or ten feet long, sharpened at both ends, and driven halfway through these holes, so that when placed in position the ends of two rows of spikes would rest on the ground while the ends of the other two presented their sharp points to the front and rear at the heighth of a man's breast.

These pieces of scantling are fastened together at the ends with short iron chains a few inches long, so that a connected and contin- uous obstruction is presented along the whole line, which cannot be crossed, and can only be passed by clearing it away with axes.

The close proximity of the hostile lines made it almost certain death for a man to show his head above the works on the front line, and indeed it was dangerous to expose one's person to the view of the enemy for several hundred yards in the rear of the first line, since by doing so he would expose himself to the fire of the enemy's sharpshooters, lying secure behind their breastworks. The only time when the works could be approached above ground from the rear was after dark.

There were a number of covered ways constructed by digging trenches running to the rear until out of musket range, and deep enough to conceal a man. In some instances these trenches were covered over with timber, overlaid with earth, so as to form a tun- nel.

As has been before said the Confederate soldiers had to remain in the trenches all the time, without being relieved, because there were no reserves to relieve them with.