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Fortress Mentality

May 2024
1min read


I very much enjoyed Jack Rudolph’s “Forts of the Americas” (March 1988). It has always amazed me that so much effort was expended to build these “impregnable” fortresses that usually proved of little value when attacked by resourceful opponents.

Although some of these forts, notably Quebec (1760 and 1775) and Fort Stanwix (1777), managed to hold out long enough for relief forces to arrive, the only spectacularly successful defensive victories of early American forts were administered by the French—Fort Duquesne in 1755 and Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga) in 1758. However, in both the above battles the better-led French forces moved out of the forts and massacred the larger British forces with wilderness fighting tactics.

In the twentieth century, after the defensive domination of the Western Front in World War I, military strategy again drifted into a “fortress mentality” with the same disastrous results (Maginot Line, Singapore, and Corregidor).

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