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Period Fence Rails

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  • #16
    Re: Period Fence Rails

    Ok, my group tried our hand at constructing these at a small event we attended this past weekend. We used rails from an existing rail fence they had on site. The rails were of the more modern styling with the pegged ends, and were about eight feet long. We used six for the main rigging, with a couple more to roll the shelter half/gum blanket under so that the wind would not blow them off. So eight rails per structure. We were able to set each up in a matter of minutes, rail collecting included. Each kept us quite dry despite a large amount of rain the first night, as noted by the 8in of mud in the background! We had four modern sized men under each, but probably could have gotten five in comfortably.
    Attached Files
    Greg Swank
    49th IN Co. F
    Tanglefoot Mess

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    • #17
      Re: Period Fence Rails

      It would appear to me that the front height of the structure can be increased somewhat by moving the crossing pieces inward, realizing that there is a limit on how far in they can be moved and still maintain stability.

      I like the idea of putting a shelter half over the wood, then gum blankets over that, to increase the weatherproofing. I'm guessing the additional two rails spoken of in the original text were to help keep the gum blankets from getting blown away.

      A brilliant and elegant means of gaining shelter. That's going to get used, and soon.
      Bernard Biederman
      30th OVI
      Co. B
      Member of Ewing's Foot Cavalry
      Outpost III

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      • #18
        Re: Period Fence Rails

        This is a superb and informative thread. I've read of this style shelter a couple of times but never properly figured how it was put together instead interpretting it to mean chooseing a corner in a zig zag fence taking the rail from the near corner and turning it 180 degrees then acquiring 3-4 more rails and placing them parallel and between leaning aginst a top rail, toss a couple shelter halves over that and you're set. That was how I had interpreted a similar description of a "saw dog" shelter; I can see now how wrong I was.

        Mr Swank & Trent thank you for the education, illustrations and photos.
        Johan Steele aka Shane Christen C Co, 3rd MN VI
        SUVCW Camp 48
        American Legion Post 352
        [url]http://civilwartalk.com[/url]

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        • #19
          Re: Period Fence Rails

          Originally posted by flattop32355 View Post
          It would appear to me that the front height of the structure can be increased somewhat by moving the crossing pieces inward, realizing that there is a limit on how far in they can be moved and still maintain stability.

          I like the idea of putting a shelter half over the wood, then gum blankets over that, to increase the weatherproofing. I'm guessing the additional two rails spoken of in the original text were to help keep the gum blankets from getting blown away.

          A brilliant and elegant means of gaining shelter. That's going to get used, and soon.
          Hi Bernard,

          In regards to elevating the structure that's exactly what we did. In the excerpt I posted the soldier described laying the first three rails two feet apart. If you look closely at the first picture we drew them in to about a foot and a half to raise everything up a bit. I do believe in really bad weather the soldiers would have kept the entire structure lower to not give as much room for letting the elements in.

          Also if you look at the first picture you can see that's also exactly what we did with the two far rails (the extra two rails spoken of in the text) that are actually just lying on top of the original structure to hold the shelter halves and gum blankets down. These can moved in closer if desired to let the shelter halves and/or gum blankets actually drape down the sides depending on the weather. I have to say we were all really impressed and quite comfortable and toasty sleeping in these on two pretty cold and one rainy night. The straw really helped insulate us from heat loss into the ground and the structures themselves protected us and held all our combined heat in pretty well!! We will definitely be making a point of using them again whenever possible.
          Michael Boyd
          49th Indiana Co. F.
          [B]Tanglefoot Mess[/B]

          63rd Indiana, 1st Section/1st Platoon, Co C at [B]Backwaters[/B]
          15th Iowa, Co. K - [B]Shiloh![/B]

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          • #20
            Re: Period Fence Rails

            This thread inspired me to try my hand at rail splitting. Three wedges and a maul worked very well, even on the nasty old red oak I found laying around the farm. Knocked out about ten twelve footers in an hour. Easiest work I've ever done. But being a former sawyer, that's not saying much. If the mill and local farmers can supply me with enough cedar or locust logs, me thinks I'll sell them on the side. Nothing beats the look and feel of a hand split rail. Pics on facebook. May keep me busy during this depression.
            Last edited by MD_Independent; 10-15-2009, 11:47 PM. Reason: Locust, not oak. Never again...
            William Birney
            Columbia Rifles

            "The OTB is made up of the dregs of humanity, the malcontents, the bit*#ers and moaners, the truth tellers, the rebellious, etc. In other words, the ones that make good soldiers when the firing starts or the marching gets tough. The $&#*$& is run by parade ground, paper collar soldiers, the ones that pee on themselves when a car backfires and would be better fit for counting beans and puffying up their own egos and kissing each others @$(#*$*..."
            Thomas "Uncle Tom" Yearby, 20 March 2009

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            • #21
              Re: Period Fence Rails

              For what it's worth, red cedar seems to be a good wood for making fence rails. The Boone Home in Defiance, MO (location of the Lost Tribes event) uses red cedar for their split rail fences (they have easy access to a lot of it). I've even done hands-on rail splitting demonstrations with 2nd graders -- the logs split pretty easily and work great.
              Matthew Easley

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              • #22
                Re: Period Fence Rails

                With the upcoming Shiloh event, it's time for this bit of Fieldcraft to bump to the top.


                Personally, my money is on snow for this thing rather than rain, but the structure will work in either condition.
                Terre Hood Biederman
                Yassir, I used to be Mrs. Lawson. I still run period dyepots, knit stuff, and cause trouble.

                sigpic
                Wearing Grossly Out of Fashion Clothing Since 1958.

                ADVENTURE CALLS. Can you hear it? Come ON.

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                • #23
                  Re: Period Fence Rails

                  Mr. Easley is correct, cedar makes an excellent fence. In his memoir, Brig. Gen. Arthur Manigault (a AoT brigade commander) made mention that fences in Tennessee were all made of sturdy cedar that resisted rot and insect damage, and that they lasted many years. By contrast Manigault's own fences back in the lowcountry of South Carolina had to be replaced every couple of years because they rotted away.

                  Will MacDonald

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