Caponier


Caponier

A Caponier is a type of fortification structure. The word originates from the French word "caponnière" - which strictly means capon-cote i.e. chickenhouse.

The fire coming from the feature (e.g. muskets, machine-guns, case-shot etc.) sweeps along the bottom of the attendant ditch and so prevents the enemy from establishing itself there.

In some types of bastioned fortifications, the caponier served only as a covered means of access to the outworks, with the bastion-trace allowing for the defence of the ditch by fire from the main parapets.

Originally the term referred to a covered passage way that traversed the ditch between the walls of a fortress and a ravelin outside the wall. This was more than simply a passage however as fire from this point could sweep the ditch between the ravelin and the curtain wall and inflict devastating damage on any attempt to storm the wall. Thus the passageway was equipped with musket ports and cannon ports that fired along the ditch.

While fortifications were evolving to the simpler polygonal style, the term was used to describe the blockhouses set in the corners of the ditch that provide the same function in that style of fort.

It usually takes the form of a low blockhouse, often partly sunk into the floor of the ditch, projecting outward into the ditch with access from the main fortress via a passage through the curtain wall, or as fortresses became largely underground, via a tunnel from within the fort. The roof is vulnerable to plunging fire, and is thus usually exceedingly thick and curved to deflect falling shells, or covered with a thick layer of earth.The caponier is usually equipped with a firing step and rifle ports to allow troops to fire along the ditch, and often has provision for small cannon to sweep the ditch as well. To clear the smoke and fumes from the firing the roof of the caponier is often provided with ventilation ports.

To avoid fire from one caponier bearing on the next, caponiers are usually set at alternate corners of the fort, so that they fire towards a blank wall at the opposite end of the ditch, giving full coverage of the ditch without subjecting the next caponier to fire. The length of the straight sections of the ditch is chosen so that it can be covered by fire from a single caponier. Caponiers are often wedge shaped so that they can fire down both angles of the ditch.

An alternative to the caponier is a counterscarp battery, dug into the outer face of the corner of the ditch, giving a similar field of fire. Again reached by a tunnel from within the fort, it does not have the vulnerable roof that the caponier has, but being outside the ditch, is potentially more vulnerable to mining. Both structures may be found in the same fort.

Caponiers are a common feature of 19th century fortification, and are found on almost all the Victorian forts of Malta, the Palmerston Forts in UK, fortifications in many Nordic countries, and in:
*Brest-Litovsk fortress,
*Kyiv fortress and
*Sevastopol (Ukraine).
*Blackness Castle contains a good example to be found in Scotland.

Examples

External links

* [http://www.undergroundkent.co.uk/caponier_fort_amherst.htm Amherst Fort - Kent]
* [http://fortress.wl.dvgu.ru/eng/ph10_en.htm Vladivostock Fortress]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • caponier — n. covered passage across a moat or ditch …   English contemporary dictionary

  • caponier — [ˌkapə nɪə] noun a covered passage across a ditch round a fort. Origin C17: from Sp. caponera, lit. capon enclosure …   English new terms dictionary

  • caponier — n. a covered passage across a ditch round a fort. Etymology: Sp. caponera, lit. capon pen …   Useful english dictionary

  • demi-caponier — See demi 5 …   Useful english dictionary

  • Капонир — …   Википедия

  • Boden Fortress — Infobox Military Structure name=Boden Fortress location=Boden, Norrbotten, Sweden caption=Rödberget Fort, part of Boden Fortress, seen from the north. The caponier ditch and the armored turrets are clearly visible, as well as the magnificent view …   Wikipedia

  • Blackness Castle — Infobox Military Structure name=Blackness Castle location=Blackness, Falkirk, Scotland gbmappingsmall|NT055802 coordinates caption=Blackness Castle, seen from the shore to the west. type=Curtain wall, artillery fortification built=1440s… …   Wikipedia

  • Harbor Defense Museum — infobox Museum name= Harbor Defense Museum established= 1980 location= Fort Hamilton, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn New York, USA visitors= 20,000/year (1995)Cite web|url=http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/ny local/1995/03/05/1995 03 05 museum stands its… …   Wikipedia

  • Fortification — Fort and Fortress redirect here. For other uses, see Fort (disambiguation) and Fortress (disambiguation). For other uses, see Fortification (disambiguation) …   Wikipedia

  • Craignethan Castle — from the west Craignethan Castle is a ruined castle in South Lanarkshire, Scotland. It is located above the River Nethan, a tributary of the River Clyde, at …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.