A redoubt (historically redout)is a fort or fort system usually consisting of an enclosed defensive emplacement outside a larger fort, usually relying on earthworks, although some are constructed of stone or brick. It is meant to protect soldiers outside the main defensive line and can be a permanent structure or a hastily constructed temporary fortification. The word means "a place of retreat". Redoubts were a component of the military strategies of most European empires during the colonial era, especially in the outer works of Vauban-style fortresses made popular during the 17th century, although the concept of redoubts has existed since medieval times. A redoubt differs from a redan in that the redan is open in the rear, whereas the redoubt was considered an enclosed work.
The advent of mobile warfare in the 20th century generally diminished the importance of the defence of static positions and siege warfare.
During the English Civil War redoubts were frequently built to protect older fortifications from the more effective artillery of the period. Often close to ancient fortifications there were small hills that overlooked the defences, but in previous centuries these had been too far from the fortifications to be a threat. A small hill close to Worcester was used as an artillery platform by the Parliamentarians when they successfully besieged Worcester in 1646. In 1651 before the Battle of Worcester the hill was turned into a redoubt by the Royalists, (the remains of which can be seen today in Fort Royal Hill Park). During the Battle of Worcester, the Parliamentarians did capture this redoubt and turned its guns on Worcester. In so doing they made the defence of the city untenable. This action effectively ended the battle, the last of the English Civil War.
From 1715 onwards, the Order of Saint John built a number of redoubts in Malta, as part of an effort to improve the coastal fortifications of the islands. They were built in the middle of bays to prevent enemy forces from disembarking and outflanking the coastal batteries.
The design of the redoubts was influenced by ones built in the French colonies. In all, eleven pentagonal redoubts and a few semi-circular or rectangular ones were built. Most redoubts have been demolished over the years, but a few still survive, such as Briconet Redoubt, Saint George Redoubt and Ximenes Redoubt.
Four tour-reduits were also built. These were redoubts built in the form of a tower, with rows of musketry loopholes. Three were around Marsaxlokk Bay, and one was located in Marsalforn, Gozo. The only one still in existence is Vendôme Tower in Marsaxlokk.
During the siege of Malta of 1798–1800, Maltese insurgents built a number of fortifications to bombard French positions and repel a possible counterattack. Most of the fortifications were batteries, but at least two redoubts, Windmill Redoubt and Żabbar Redoubt, were also built. In 1799, British forces also built San Rocco Redoubt and San Lucian Redoubt in Malta. No redoubts from the French blockade survive today.
In the late 19th century, the British built a redoubt near Fomm ir-Riħ as part of the Victoria Lines.
The American Revolution defenses at West Point, New York included several redoubts, forts, and the Great Chain with links weighing more than 100 pounds each that Continental Army military engineers stretched across the Hudson River. The purpose behind the West Point defensive system was to prevent the British Army and Royal Navy from gaining control of the Hudson and splitting New England off from the mid-Atlantic and southern states. The chain blocked the river, the forts were positioned to fire on ships attempting to approach the chain, and outlying redoubts were well placed to defend land routes into West Point.
Examples where redoubts played a crucial role in military history:
A national redoubt is an area to which the remnant forces of a nation can be withdrawn if the main battle has been lost, or beforehand if defeat is considered inevitable. Typically a region is chosen with a geography favouring defence, such as a mountainous area or a peninsula, in order to function as a final hold-out to preserve national independence for the duration of the conflict.
Redan is a feature of fortifications. It is a work in a V-shaped salient angle towards an expected attack. It can be made from earthworks or other material.
A blockhouse is a small fortification, usually consisting of one or more rooms with loopholes, allowing its defenders to fire in various directions. It usually refers to an isolated fort in the form of a single building, serving as a defensive strong point against any enemy that does not possess siege equipment or, in modern times, artillery, air force and cruise missiles. A fortification intended to resist these weapons is more likely to qualify as a fortress or a redoubt, or in modern times, be an underground bunker. However, a blockhouse may also refer to a room within a larger fortification, usually a battery or redoubt.
Fort San Lucian, also known as Saint Lucian Tower or Fort Rohan, is a large bastioned watchtower and polygonal fort in Marsaxlokk, Malta. The original tower was built by the Order of Saint John between 1610 and 1611, being the second of six Wignacourt towers.
Saint Agatha's Tower, also known as the Red Tower, Mellieħa Tower or Fort Saint Agatha, is a large bastioned watchtower in Mellieħa, Malta. It was built between 1647 and 1649, as the sixth of the Lascaris towers. The tower's design is completely different from the rest of the Lascaris towers, but it is similar to the earlier Wignacourt towers. St. Agatha's Tower was the last large bastioned tower to be built in Malta.
Marsalforn Tower refers to two towers that stood near Marsalforn, in the limits of Xagħra, Gozo, Malta. The first one was built in 1616, as the fourth of six Wignacourt towers, and collapsed in around 1715. The second was a Tour-reduit, which was built in 1720 and demolished in 1915.
Fort Tigné is a polygonal fort in Tigné Point, Sliema, Malta. It was built by the Order of Saint John between 1793 and 1795 to protect the entrance to Marsamxett Harbour, and it is one of the oldest polygonal forts in the world. The fort was extensively altered by the British in the 19th century, and it remained in use by the military until 1979.
The fortifications of Malta consist of a number of walled cities, citadels, forts, towers, batteries, redoubts, entrenchments and pillboxes. The fortifications were built over thousands of years, from around 1450 BC to the mid-20th century, and they are a result of the Maltese islands' strategic position and natural harbours, which have made them very desirable for various powers.
San Rocco Battery was an artillery battery in Kalkara, Malta, built by Maltese insurgents during the French blockade of 1798–1800. It was the last in a chain of batteries, redoubts and entrenchments encircling the French positions in Marsamxett and the Grand Harbour. It was built to control the entrance to the harbour as well as the French occupied Fort Ricasoli. The battery was continually being fired upon from the French at Ricasoli.
San Rocco Redoubt was a redoubt in Kalkara, Malta. It was built by Great Britain during the French blockade of 1798-1800. It was part of a chain of batteries, redoubts and entrenchments encircling the French positions in Marsamxett and the Grand Harbour.
Vendôme Tower is a tour-reduit in Marsaxlokk, Malta. It was built by the Order of Saint John in 1715 as one of a series of coastal fortifications around the coasts of the Maltese Islands. It is the only surviving tour-reduit in Malta. Today, Vendôme Tower houses the headquarters of Marsaxlokk F.C.
Vendôme Battery, also known as Ta' Maċċu Battery, is an artillery battery near Armier Bay, limits of Mellieħa, Malta. It was built by the Order of Saint John in 1715–1716 as one of a series of coastal fortifications around the Maltese Islands.
Fedeau Battery was an artillery battery in Mellieħa, Malta. It was built by the Order of Saint John in 1714–1716 as one of a series of coastal fortifications around the Maltese Islands, and it was demolished in the 20th century.
Pinto Battery, also known as Għżira Battery or Kechakara Battery, is a former artillery battery in Birżebbuġa, Malta. It was built by the Order of Saint John between 1715 and 1716 as one of a series of coastal fortifications around the coasts of the Maltese Islands. The battery has been heavily altered over time, and the blockhouse now houses a bar and a garage, while the gun platform and parapet have been largely destroyed, with only the general outline still visible.
Saint George Redoubt is a redoubt in Birżebbuġa, Malta. It was built in 1714–1716 by the Order of Saint John as one of a series of coastal fortifications around the Maltese Islands, and it got its name from a chapel dedicated to St. George which was incorporated within the redoubt. Today, the redoubt and chapel still exist and they are in good condition.
Del Fango Redoubt, also known as De Vami Redoubt, was a redoubt in Marsaxlokk, Malta. It was built in 1715–1716 by the Order of Saint John as one of a series of coastal fortifications around the Maltese Islands. An entrenchment was originally located close to the redoubt.
Spinola Redoubt, also known as Birżebbuġa Redoubt, was a tour-reduit in Birżebbuġa, Malta. It was built by the Order of Saint John in 1715–1716 as one of a series of coastal fortifications around the Maltese Islands. It has been demolished.
Fresnoy Redoubt, also known as Kalafrana Redoubt, was a tour-reduit in Birżebbuġa, Malta. It was built by the Order of Saint John in 1715–1716 as one of a series of coastal fortifications around the Maltese Islands. It was demolished in 1897.
Balbani Battery, also known as Bengħisa Battery or Saint Catherine's Battery, was an artillery battery in Birżebbuġa, Malta. It was built by the Order of Saint John on commands by Grand Master Manuel Pinto da Fonseca and it was completed in 1721. The battery was named for Cristoforo Balbani, who partially financed its construction. It was one of a series of coastal fortifications around the Maltese Islands.
Elminiech Battery, also known as Figuella Battery, San Raimondo Battery or Oitelboura Battery, was an artillery battery in Birżebbuġa, Malta. It was built by the Order of Saint John in 1715–1716 as one of a series of coastal fortifications around the Maltese Islands.
In fortification, the term entrenchment can refer to either a secondary line of defence within a larger fortification, or an enceinte designed to provide cover for infantry, having a layout similar to a city wall but on a smaller scale. The latter usually consisted of curtain walls and bastions or redans, and was sometimes also protected by a ditch.
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