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 Post subject: "Criss-cross" fence...
PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2009 12:23 am 
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The Smoking room might be the best place for this one...but anyway:

Watching the Gettysburg movie DVD I noticed, as in a lot of films set in the United States around this period what I can only describe as "Criss-cross" fences. Constructed from sawn or rough timber and apparently in a variety of styles. I'm damned if I can find anything definitive about this find of structure. Does anyone here have experience or knowledge of this kind of feature? I guess it was a typically traditional style of fence around farms etc...but it just strikes me as 'odd', in the sense that I've never seen evidence of the same anywhere else (other countries I mean) and It would seem to be rather wasteful of material/laborious to build? It just has me puzzled by it's 'quirkiness'.

Brigadier-General Jim Wilkes.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2009 3:50 am 
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Jim,

I cannot comment on if this style of fence was used in other countries. (I can say that it was known as Virginia Snake Rail, or Worm Rail fence.) However, in the US, the access to so much wood made this type of fence cost effective, and was very easy to install, it doesn't require any post holes. It does, however, require morewood than a conventional post rail fence.

Hope I was a little helpful.



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-Major General George Meade, Commanding the Army of the Potomac, July 2, 1863

Major General Rusty Hodgkiss
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2009 4:56 am 
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I suspect they just had plenty of wood from clearing the fields to build it with just like northern states tended to make stone fences from all those fine rocks they had in their fields. It probably was relatively easy to build since they just stacked the rails. And not requiring digging holes or using nails was a big plus.

A good example of one is on slide 33 of the Battle of Cedar Mountain on the CSA War College site. Just go to the shared section, battlefields.

LG. Kennon Whitehead
Chatham Grays
1/1/III AoM (CSA)


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 10:34 am 
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<font color="beige"><b>I suppose the worm fence is an American manifestation, as mentioned earlier there was an abundance of wood when clearing fields, old Abe Lincoln was said to be a rail splitter in his younger years.
Although it may seem like a wasteful practice what the worm fence uses in wood is more than made up for in the strength (small opennings between rails and gravity holds it up), longevity (limited ground contact)and ease of construction (no holes to dig in the ground, to bore in the posts or nails used), all you needed was an axe and a strong back.
The bottom rail is set on a rock so only the cross ties (if used) at each intersection touch the ground...these can slowly rot where they touch the ground with out effecting the fence structure, repairs and replacement of rails is easy.
I have a small version (only four sections) at my driveway entrance which I built 9 years ago with spit white oak, there's some rot in the sap wood of the rails but they are still in serviceable shape. Here in the mid-Atlantic a white oak post set in the ground might last 10 years, sitting on a rock up off the ground it could last 20+ years.

The Gettysburg area had a lot of hybrid type fences using a fieldstone bottom half with cross rails ever 10 feet or so topped with a rail, the wood gave the stone fence another foot or so of height.</b></font id="beige">

<center> <font color="beige"><b>General R.A.'Bob'Weir
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 2:08 pm 
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I'll be damned...you learn something new everyday...great topic!!

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 5:31 am 
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If it is constructed without nails, that for the era would be a very major reason/advantage. Nails were a valued commodity from what I can understand. I believe there is evidence that they were re-used after fires, which if so would tell you something of their value...verses a fence which might just rely on gravity.

I have heard from a reasonable source that the "deader than a doornail" expression was related to reused nails--from recycled sources (because of the nature of a door, they were a good fit for such use), but I remain skeptical as there are other explainations--e.g. the way a nail is placed curved on the ends, or the destruction via the knocker.

Anyway, interesting question.

MG Laabs
III A of M


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 11:36 am 
I remember seeing a Historical program on the early settlement of America.....
Indeed Nails where a valuable commodity....so much so that it was common to burn a dwelling to the ground to retrieve all the nails as the settlers moved west in the early settlement of america.
If that was a common practice then I am sure that nails used in fences would have been a practice that was not commonplace until railroads brought the price of nails down.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 1:05 pm 
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Rusty you stole the words out of my mouth: Virginia Snake Rail Fence, thats what I've always heard them called. The fences at Gettysburg, not along Emmittsburg Road, but near MacPherson's Farm, are all Snake Rail jobs.

Lt. Col. Nick DeStefano
4/4/IV/AotM
"Morgan's Kentucky Wolf-Pack Bde"


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