Book Review- “A Legacy in Brick and Stone” – The American Coastal Defense Forts of the Third System 1816-1867 by John R. Weaver II- Part II

This is Part II of my review of “A Legacy in Brick and Stone”


Author: Weaver, John R. II

Publisher: Redoubt Press, McLean, Virginia

First Printing 2001

ISBN 1-57510-069-X

Hardcover 245 pages (although I have the soft cover edition)

Numerous maps, drawings, photographs, and illustrations

After giving a very good description of the background for the Engineering board, Weaver goes on to discuss the differences between the shapes, sizes, designs, and locations of the third system of forts.  We find that it greatly varied as did the armament in each of the fortifications.  He explains the difference between a seacoast cannon, a howitzer, a seacoast mortar, and the different types of projectiles that they fired.

Finally, in the first part of the book, Weaver discusses the various effectiveness of fortifications from the third system as some were put to the test in the Civil War.  Ft. Monore, Ft. Jefferson, Ft. Sumter, Ft. Jackson, Ft. Pulaski, Ft. Morgan, Ft. Gains, Ft. Pickens (and other Pensacola forts), and Ft. Macon are all discussed.

In Part II of the book, Weaver details the location, construction, plans, and photographs from over FORTY different forts of the third system.  Each entry is carefully researched by the author, and written on with authority.  He goes into great detail on almost every fort, and even describes different routes that invading armies would have in approaching Hampton Roads or New Orleans.

Finally, the appendix is very helpful for the average reader who is not familiar with many of the detailed technical terms that are used in the book such as counterscarp, crenel, merlon, and tenailles.

In short (and to wrap up this review), it is a book I highly recommend to anyone interested in the subject of coastal fortifications, the blockade, coastal artillery, and the American Civil War.  Also, I would definitely pick this work up if you plan on visiting any of the Eastern or Gulf coast forts, as it will give you a good idea of how the forts stack up against one another in terms of design, use, and effectiveness.

– Matthew Young

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