Among the most remarkable aspects of the growing Union siege lines were the quantity and diversity of the forts constructed along them. By the spring of 1865 Federal engineers had built thirty one at Petersburg, with ten more at City Point. Most were named for officers killed in action. Radiating out from the forts, in a seemingly aimless pattern, were the breastworks. Protecting both was an inventory of exotically named military implements, including chevaux-de-frise, gabions, and abatis. (There were actually two Union siege lines: the "front" line faced Petersburg; the other, the "reverse" line, was a short distance behind the first and pointed in the opposite direction. Its function was to protect the rear of the front line.)
There was no standard fort blueprint; indeed, it seemed that the construction teams were determined that no two would look alike. The largest (finished in March 1865) was Fort Fisher, which covered an area of five acres; certainly one of the most interesting was Fort Stevenson, which was built on the reverse line in a distinctive "inverse W" shape. Some forts became better known than others. Fort Sedgwick, located where the front siege line met Jerusalem Plank Road, (Crater Road) was one perhaps most remembered by the Union veterans. It's close proximity to the Confederate batteries made it a prominent target. According to a New York soldier, Fort Sedgwick became known as Fort Hell because "it was nearer the rebel lines, and therefore was subjected to the hottest fire." A gunner who served there wrote, "I expend about 100 rounds of ammunition every day, and the picket and sharpshooters pour in such a continuous storm of bullets that the said fort is anything but an agreeable place."
An interior view of "Fort Hell,"
Fort Morton opposite the Crater