A Gabion in the Hand…
The picture above is of a gabion, basically sticks woven together to form a rough barrel. These structures were originally used during the Middle Ages as a sort of mobile fortification. They were light weight and easily transported. Often various sizes would be made to fit within each other so they would stack like plastic cups.
When they arrived where they were intended to be used they would be filled with dirt, rocks, or anything. Suddenly they would transform into a strong fortification. They would be used to protect artillery and infantry positions and could even be found along the edges of the trench works during a siege. If they needed to be moved that would simply be emptied and moved. True mobility.
Used in conjunction with fascines and even bales of wool or cotton, these were commonly used in the Americas during the American Revolution up through the Civil War. In fact, in some places around the world gabions are still used to protect military bases. When used with a little imagination they could also be used to build actual structures. Small houses and even latrines!
Today the gabion is used in various forms for landscaping and erosion control. Whether still made of sticks and dirt, or hi tech plastic and metal, the gabion is still a fixture in the modern world.
The gabions you see above are from the model Continental Army camp at Colonial Williamsburg. Scattered throughout the camp are various examples of fortifications and battlefield accouterments from the period. We’ll see more of those later.