Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Word of the Day -- Abatis

Abatis, abattis, or abbattis is a term in field fortification for an obstacle formed (in the modern era) of the branches of trees laid in a row, with the sharpened tops directed outwards, towards the enemy. The trees are usually interlaced or tied with wire. Abatis are used alone or in combination with wire
entanglements and other obstacles.

There is evidence it was used as early as the Roman Imperial period, and as recently as the American Civil War. Abatis is rarely seen nowadays, having been largely replaced by wire obstacles. However, it may be used as a replacement or supplement when barbed wire is in short supply. A form of giant abatis, using whole trees instead of branches, can be used as an improvised anti-tank obstacle.

A classic use of an abatis was found at the Battle of the Chateauguay, 26 October 1813, when
approximately 1,300 Canadian voltigeurs, under the command of Charles-Michel de Salaberry, defeated an American corps of approximately 4,000 men. Another striking example was its use by Alexander Macomb in the stunning victory at the Battle of Plattsburgh.


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