Case 1: THE GEOMETRY OF WAR:
FORTIFICATION PLANS FROM 18TH-CENTURY AMERICA
Fortification is as old as human conflict, and secure defensive positions have played an important part in warfare. Of course, their design and construction have changed steadily, always in response to the weaponry brought against them, whether stones, arrows, cannon, or aircraft.
The armament of potential attackers influenced the design of a fortification. Fort Franklin was a U.S. post situated on the overland route from Pittsburgh to Erie, Pennsylvania. Native Americans were the most likely threat, but the proximity of Lake Erie meant possible attack from Canada by British troops with cannon. The fort was therefore constructed of horizontal logs to better resist light artillery.
Full-fledged artillery fortifications were rare in North America, and most were found in coastal areas. British engineer Samuel Holland’s ambitious, six-sheet design for a citadel for the city of Québec included many of the architectural features—bastions, ravelins, covered way, and various other outworks—found in the most sophisticated fortresses of Europe. Holland’s plan was not realized.
Many fortification plans were produced to illustrate reports. The quadrilateral, four-bastioned fort that protected Nassau in the Bahamas was drawn in simplified fashion to accompany information on the state of that British colony gathered for the Earl of Dartmouth. Conventions in the coloring of fortification plans reveal construction details: carmine red indicated masonry; yellow usually showed projected or incomplete works.