Page 5 - Fort Burgoyne
P. 5

Fort Burgoyne                                                                                                  Dover Defences

         Henry II built a castle at Dover c.1180 on the site of the  even 2,00 yards, and with little or no waste of ammunition,
         fort erected by King Harold on Castle Hill. Harold’s fort  a result utterly impracticable with the old gun.’
         was built close to a Roman pharos, or lighthouse which,
         in turn, was built within an iron age hill fort. Although  When the 1860 Royal Commission Appointed to
         the castle was built on the hill commanding the town  consider the defences of the United Kingdom together
         and port of Dover, it was not built on the summit of the  with the minutes of evidence, appendices and
         hill. There was higher ground to its north, and its   correspondence relating to the site of an internal
         vulnerability to attack from this direction was       arsenal  looked at the idea of defending Dover it
         demonstrated as early as 1216 when Louis, the French  decided that  their objection to the construction of
         Dauphin and leader of a large part of John’s disaffected  fortifications purely for strategical purposes applied in
         baronage, laid siege to the castle and almost succeeded  some respects to Dover; and if there were no works of
         in taking it. Successive monarchs enlarged and        defence or military establishment there already it would
         strengthened the castle and their military engineers  simply be a question of  whether or not that place should
         looked for ways to negate its vulnerability to an attack  or should not be fortified.
         from the higher ground. By the time rifled artillery came
         in to use  the  danger from an attacking force siting  They stated that the considerations that have led to the
         batteries of siege  artillery  on the high ground to   construction of fortifications at Dover from time to
         bombard the castle was a great danger that needed to be  time may be classed under three heads:
         addressed urgently.
                                                               1. Being the nearest point to the opposite coast, the possession
         General Sir John Burgoyne, in his 1856                 of the strong ground about Dover, which would give an
         Memorandum on Defences for Great Britain, said of the  enemy command of the harbour and roadstead, would
                                                                afford him immense advantage, as a tête de pont  under
         castle at Dover:                                       cover of which he could throw troops into this country.
           ‘The Castle may be considered as a large detached   2. That if fortified effectually, Dover becomes a secure
           independent work occupying ground from whence, if in  military position of great value with reference to the
           possession of an enemy, the harbour might be rendered  landing of an enemy upon any part of the coast of Kent, in
           totally useless to us, and any communication to the  the event of which he would be obliged to besiege Dover, or
           (Western) heights virtually cut off. As the weakest, it is  to mask it with a considerable force, in order to prevent the
           decidedly the part representing the greatest advantage to  garrison of the place acting upon his communications
           an enemy to attack: too much consideration, therefore,  during his advance. with this view, we understand that the
           cannot be given to its improvement’
                                                                plan of the commander-in-chief, at the time of the expected
                                                                invasion at the beginning of this century, was to make
         Burgoyne’s Memorandum was followed by another by       Dover the point d'appui of his regular army, intending to
         Major W.F.D. Jervois, in 1858. Jervois,  in his        act upon the flanks and rear of the enemy, instead of
         ‘Memorandum Relative to the Protection of Dockyards    manoeuvring in such way as to cover London.
         and Most Important Harbours’, suggested               3. The scheme for constructing a large harbour of refuge is an
         improvements for the works on the Castle’s east side   additional reason for fortifying Dover ; and as it has
         and an increase in ‘the amount of fire which can be brought  already progressed to such an extent as to furnish some
         to bear on the ground outside the work from its northern  shelter, which would render it valuable to an enemy, and
         salient, which is at present weak’                     afford a good pier for disembarkation, it is one which holds
                                                                good, even although the harbour project be not fully
                                                                carried into effect.
         Two reports in 1859 on the damage likely to be inflicted
         by the new rifled guns then being built could have done  Weighing the reasons for fortifying it and bearing in
         nothing to allay the military’s concern. The first warned  mind the extensive, though imperfect works of
           ‘Towers, old castles, and escarp walls in general, that are  fortification already existing in Dover and the
           not covered, will be readily ruined at great distances’.  improvements already sanctioned by Parliament, the
                                                               Commissioners were of the opinion that:
           The second stated:                                    ‘it is in fact the only place in England which partakes
           ‘Thus there is little doubt that breaches in any description  1. tête de pont : the fortification protecting the end of a bridge.
           of walls could be affected from distances of 1,200, 1,500 or  2. d'appui;  support

   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10