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WI the US completed all of the planned Third System forts?

SSgtC

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Like it says on the tin. I just spent the day yesterday crawling around Fort Knox on the Penobscot River in Maine (if anyone hasn't seen it, it is a gorgeous and beautifully preserved example of American Third System forts). While I was there, I began to wonder, what would US history have looked like had all of the nearly 200 forts, towers, etc been completed? In particular, what would the Civil War have looked like?

As proven multiple times in the War, the Third Systems forts were unable to stop ironclad warships and their walls were very vulnerable to the high velocity guns of the period (Fort Pulaski was forced to surrender after only a 30 min bombardment and Fort Sumter was reduced to nothing but ruble). But each major Fort was expected to mount some 100 guns or more between the casemates in the walls and the outlying batteries. In the South, that could have given the CSA a ton of heavy artillery, gunpowder and shot (the forts were planned to be armed with 32 pounder, 42 pounder or 10" Columbiads depending on the time period).

So what would have happened if all the planned fortifications been completed and armed?
 

isayyo2

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It's an interesting question, by why? How do you militarize the Antebellum era? A different outcome of the 1812 War? Taking more of Mexico and receiving international condemnation?

Like you mentioned, many forts would be in south fully armed and manned; probably some local industries to help build the forts and guns too?
 

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That's what I'm thinking. Maybe the US has another war scare with the UK in the 1820s/1830s prompting renewed emphasis on coastal fortifications? Most of the forts were built at a fairly slow pace. (Fort Knox was begun in 1844 and still wasn't complete by 1867. It was nearly done, but the upper battery of guns was never fitted nor was the barracks built.) So maybe something that gets the US to get off their ass and actually build them?
 

_Del_

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The UK enmity, New Spain/Mexican Independence/Battle of Tampico, and later the Tejanos, and even later the Mexican- American War seem like good starting points if we're looking for potential flash points.

Perhaps the Latin American revolutions occur a little earlier. With or without US support, which sees Republicanism face off against the monarchy. We nearly fought the Spanish under the Monroe Doctrine as the Civil War was winding down over the Chinca Islands War.

Similar potential in the Carribean under the Monroe Doctrine. The US tried to buy Cuba several times. Perhaps an earlier independence movement would see an earlier Spanish-American War.
 
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drejr

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That's what I'm thinking. Maybe the US has another war scare with the UK in the 1820s/1830s prompting renewed emphasis on coastal fortifications? Most of the forts were built at a fairly slow pace. (Fort Knox was begun in 1844 and still wasn't complete by 1867. It was nearly done, but the upper battery of guns was never fitted nor was the barracks built.) So maybe something that gets the US to get off their ass and actually build them?

Congress had no objections to paying a relatively massive amount of money to construct forts in the 1820s and 30s - the cost was fairly uncontroversial and actually seen as economical since they were viewed as a substitute for a large army.

The forts were built slowly because they were large and sophisticated, and national infrastructure had to be improved as well.

The cost didn't become an issue until the mid-1830s, when the growing Western states (who largely funded the federal government) questioned the need for extensive coastal fortifications of little benefit to them and Southerners began to view them as an internal threat after the Nullification Crisis.

Most of the 200 potential fortifications would have been relatively minor affairs in the third tier of the plan - at most they probably would have been comfortable quarters for the cheaper and more effective earthworks built during the war.

I suspect the actual effect of a serious war scare would be abandoning the long-term strategy of the Third System in favor of rapidly augmenting whatever had already been built similar to what happened in the Civil War.
 
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riggerrob

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Why didn't Americans include glacis like the Vauban Forts built in Europe and Canada (Halifax, Quebec, etc.)?
Glacis might require an extra stone wall, but most of their bulk is just gravel and soil.
 

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Why didn't Americans include glacis like the Vauban Forts built in Europe and Canada (Halifax, Quebec, etc.)?
Glacis might require an extra stone wall, but most of their bulk is just gravel and soil.
They did where they could. Fort Knox has a beautiful granite glacis for part of the wall. The rest is very thick granite backed by brick masonry
 

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