Diary of a Yankee Engineer: The Civil War Story of John H. Westervelt, Engineer, 1st New York Volunteer Engineer Corps

By John H. Westervelt; Anita Palladino | Go to book overview

Diary of an Engineer During the
Rebellion

No. 54

Jan 6th. We had some terrible explosions at the Gap last night making our cabin fairly quiver again. It is supposed that in ten days the canal will be passable for our gun boats. Most of the men that worked on the canal have been given furloughs and have gone home since the mine was blown out. 7th Morning clear and beautiful. Noon cloudy with high wind. Afternoon blustery with rain and snow. The day was so dull that notwithstanding the disagreeable weather after dinner I saddled my steed and started upon a ride. My horse like myself seemed glad to get out and we flew over the country like the wind covering ourselves with mud from head to feet. I went down as far as the river and took a look at Co H. building the bridge that crossed the pontoon and proceeded to the camp of Co K who are cutting timber for the bridge. Here I saw our old friend Peter F. Burdick and had a chat with him. Next I directed my course to the camp of Co E near the Bermuda Hundred front. The Co are making gabions and facines. You perhaps don’t know what they are. Gabions are a sort of Basket made straight up and down 2 ft across and three feet high, thus [illus]. The uprights are of wood, those running crosswise are wove between them the same as a basket and are done on iron hoops sometimes flat splints, and sometimes round whips, gabions are filled with earth and used for forming the sides of embankments for forts, earth forts or batteries. Fancines are used for the same purposes, and are made of poles about 1 in diameter banded together with wire in bundles of 10 to 12 in diameter. Sometimes a number of these bundles are bound into large ones with strong iron hoops. This is called a Sap roller and is capable of resisting very heavy shot or shell. Sap rollers are used to roll ahead of the men when sapping or moving up to a fort. They were used to great advantage in the siege of Fort Wagner Morris Island. Perhaps

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