Bastion Fortification Glossary 





French Description
abatis Abatis The abatis is a defensive feature consisting of felled trees lying parallel to each other with sharpened branches pointing in the direction of the attackers approach.
advanced ditch Fossé avancé The advanced ditch is a defensive feature at the base of a glacis opposite the covert way. The purpose of the advanced ditch is to obstruct attacking infantry.
angle Angle The angle formed by the adjacent flanks of two bastions or by a flank and a curtain.
banquette Banquette The step of earth inside the parapet, sufficiently high to enable the defenders standing upon it to fire over the crest of the parapet, yet be protected.
bastion Bastion A work consisting of two faces and two flanks, all of the angles being salient. A curtain connects two bastions. Viewed from the interior of the fort the bastion is divided at the salient creating a right face/flank and a left face/flank.
bombproof A l'épreuve des bombes A structure sufficiently thick and strong to be impenetrable by bombs.
breast-height wall   The interior slope of a parapet
caponniere Caponnière A covered passage across the ditch of a fortified place designed to shelter communication with the outer-works or to afford a flanking fire to the ditch in which it stands.
casemate Casemate Interior gun chamber behind a fort wall. The gun is fired through a protected opening in the wall (casement). Casemates protect the guns and gunners and allow a fort's guns to be arranged in multiple levels.
coping   The highest or covering course of a wall.
cordon Cordon A projecting course along the junction of a parapet and scarp forming a junction for the change in building materials and an obstacle to scaling the wall.
counterfort Contrefort Solid pillars of masonry within the body of the revetment. Counterforts are perpendicular to the revetment and are designed to support the weight of the rampart fill.
counterscarp Contre escarpe The vertical or nearly vertical side of the ditch nearest the besiegers and opposite the scarp. It is generally faced or revetted in permanent works to inhibit the descent into the ditch.
covert way (covered way) Chemin couvert A space running along the top of the counterscarp protected by an embankment whose outer slope forms the glacis. It serves as a protected walkway and assembly area for the defending infantry.
cunette Cunette A trench in the bottom of a dry ditch which functions to drain water and obstruct the enemy.
curtain Courtine That part of the rampart or wall between two bastions or two gates.
demi-lune Demie lune See ravelin.
ditch Fossé The excavation around the works from which the earth for parapet and rampart is obtained. Ditches may be wet (moat) or dry, with the latter the preferred in 18th & 19th century forts. When the excavation is on the side farthest from the enemy, it is called a trench.
embrasures Embrasures An opening in the parapet. Parapet embrasures are smallest at the interior opening and wider towards the exterior. This widening is called the splay.
enfilade Enfilade Gunfire directed at the enemy which exposes the entire length of the enemy position to gunfire from one location. Enfilade fire is effective because more of the position is exposed to the gunfire.
epaulement Epaulement The angle formed by the face and flank of a bastion. The shoulder of the bastion.
face (of the bastion) Face The faces are the two parts of the bastion that form the salient angle.
flank (of the bastion) Flanc The parts of the bastion that join the faces to the ramparts. The line of fire from a flank would run parallel to the wall that it abuts and defends.
glacis Glacis A slope of earth, usually turfed, that inclines from the covered way towards the country. Its object is to bring assailants into a conspicuous line of fire as they approach the fort.
gorge Gorge The space between the ravelin and the fort.
magazine Magasin A storehouse for munitions.
oblique fire Tir oblique Gun fire directed at a position from an angle approaching 45 degrees. The positioning of guns to fire at an oblique angle is considered disadvantageous.
palisade Palissade A fence constructed of a row of closely placed wooden stakes
parade Place d'arme The interior ground surface of a fort which serves as a drill and assembly area.
parade wall   The interior wall of the rampart, which encircles the parade.
parapet Parapet Breastworks, walls, and bulwarks of earth, wood, brick, iron, stone, etc., located on the exterior edge of the rampart of the fort.
postern Poterne A secondary gate through the rampart wall for access to outworks.
ramp Rampe An oblique or sloping interior road to mount the terreplein of the rampart.
rampart Rempart The broad embankment or mass of earth surrounding a fortified place. A rampart forms the body of the place. The exterior wall is called a scarp (escarp) and the interior wall is generally the parade wall.
ravelin Demie lune A work constructed beyond the main ditch, opposite a curtain, composed of two faces and forming a salient angle. It has its own ditch and usually a counterscarp. Alternately called a demi-lune.
redoubt Redoute A small fort of varying shape, usually of a temporary nature.
revetment Revêtement A retaining wall of masonry built for the purpose of holding back the earth of which the works are composed, e.g., for the scarp and counterscarp.
salient angle Angle saillant The projecting angle formed by the two faces of the bastion.
sally port   A gate or passage by which the garrison of a fort may attack besiegers. The term is applied to the postern leading under the rampart into the ditch, but its modern application is a cut through the glacis to the covert way. When not in use, sally ports are closed by massive gates of timber and iron.
scarp Escarpe The faces of the fort on the inside of the ditch.
shoulder (angle of the bastion) Epaulement The angle formed by one face and one flank of the bastion.
star fort Fort en étoile An enclosed field work in the shape of the heraldic representation of a five pointed star.
tenaille Tenaille A small trench protected by a low embankment located within the ditch and bordering the scarp walls of the fort.
terreplein Terre plein The broad surface of the rampart, below the level of the parapet and the banquette.
traverse Traverse Mound(s) of earth or a masonry wall which separate gun emplacements, building entrances, and other positions from enfilading fire. The traverse is designed to confine the effects of a bomb fired into the fort.

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