What is a Bastion Fort?
Bastion fortifications came as a result of the inventions of gunpowder and the cannon shells which changed the nature of the battle. These forts hade the form of a pentagon or hexagon. The corners have the bastions where the enemy can be seen and confronted. These bastions made these engagements easier and comfortable as there was no need for the soldiers to lean on the walls. These made the soldiers safe.
Why was the Star Formation Introduced?
Original forts were based on hilltops with walls. Defense from an invading enemy force was guaranteed by how higher the fort was. The enemy forces had to ram the walls or the gate if they ever hoped to take over the fort. The soldiers from the opposing side had to descend over the walls. This was a difficult venture due to the constant arrow strikes from archers in high defensive positions. The introduction of the cannonball made them extremely vulnerable and they had to be changed.
The new forts were built using unique star formations. They had ditches that still made any attacking force vulnerable to counter attacks. The walls were shortened too. These forts underwent numerous innovations over a period of three hundred years.
Were They Expensive?
Building these forts was not that cheap. Many men were employed to do the hard work of excavations of the earth that were to reinforce the walls. The old walls were to be torn down too and new ones to be built. Materials to be used had to absorb the artillery strikes. New cost-cutting measures had to be introduced. Instead of pulling down the forts completely, they left some part of it up and filled it with earth to make it stronger. Sloping walls were designed by engineers to hide the walls from the horizontal enemy fire.
How did Bastion Forts Change Military Strategies?
Military planners adopted these new bastion forts to reduce their own casualties. Any military invader was now forced to attack these forts first. The aim was to capture them before proceeding to other forts. The new modifications to them made them harder to overrun and sieges took a long time to end. When they actually fell, the enemy had depleted their resources and other forts in the line of fire either had employed counter-siege strategies.
What Made Bastion Forts Irrelevant?
New inventions of military weapons like tanks and more powerful artillery shells made these forts vulnerable once again. A tank could ram the walls with powerful shells. These tanks could be driven over the trenches and the earth reinforcements of these walls could not withstand the impact of artillery shells fired from enemy guns.
Military aircraft made them even more vulnerable. All that was needed was a pilot dropping some bombs and destruction was assured. These forts were designed to sustain them from an infantry attack, not an air assault. These forts thus had to be abandoned.
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