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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Snake rail fences (or Worm fences)

Proper snake rail fence (or Worm fences... same thing) common in the U.S. These are NOT from the website. Note old and gray weathered fences?

 Okay today is the day to check out the Gettysburg Daily website. The Friends of the Park are erecting new fences from scratch. Click on the link at the side to go there. If you are reading this after today make sure you go to the archive section for June 5th. Each day they change the posts. If you intend to make some of these fences for your Civil War game or any American period from F&I until now you will see exactly how it is done.

Another shot of older fences.
 I see many gamers make these fences and they are wrong wrong wrong! There was even an article in Wargames Illustrated a few years back that was totally wrong. What?! Yup. The beauty of these fences was the method of construction. It was easy! Farmers had tons of trees that they needed to clear for planting. This method involved _NO_ post hole digging. All you would do it lay the rails (split rails into quarters) one on top of the other, done! It separates the fields and keeps grazing animals out of the planted fields.

stonewall topped with rails

Above is another example of easily made fences. North America has a lot of rocks beneath the soil. Farmers could break the blades of their plows on these rocks. It is back-breaking work but they needed to be cleared from plowed fields. You can easily stack the rocks to separate the field but getting them high enough to keep out farm animals is a problem. The photo above shows how to raise the height with little effort for the over-worked farmers. On a typical battlefield you would see these two types of fencing in abundance. The post and rail style is good but requires lots and lots of hole digging and holes cut for the cross rails. That is not fun and very labor intensive.

Go to the Gettysburg Daily website to see the progress of the fence building and check back often for updates.

Yes, it has nothing to do with fences. This monument depicts Color Sgt. Ben Crippen, a Pennsylvania soldier, that shook his fist defiantly at the Confederates as his regiment fell back to Seminary Ridge on July 1st, at Gettysburg.


  1. A really helpful and informative feature. I must admit I am guilty of making inaccurate fencing in the past! Would you mind if I mention your blog in a feature I am writing fow WSS magazine please

  2. We used a simple stack construction with the twigs from our apple tree pruning to build the wall. We plan to grow some vines on it to make it a green wall. We love the rustic feel of it and it is my favourite lounging spot in the garden. industrial fencing