What is a Redoubt?

The term redoubt is derived from Medieval Latin as a “secret place,” although by the 18th century it was a word used to define a specific type of military structure used as part of larger fortifications.  Redoubts were mostly built in North America throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. They could be placed close to a fort’s walls or placed in the outer defense works of a fort. They could also be constructed even further away from the fort and its outer works. No matter where a redoubt was built, however, the main purpose was always clear: redoubts could serve as a first line of defense in the face of enemy fire or invasion. There was not any uniform way in which to build redoubts, and therefore they tended to be of various shapes, constructions and appearances. According to historian Brian Leigh Dunnigan, redoubts were “any small, self-contained fortification without flanking devices such as bastions…from small, square, round or polygonal forts to the familiar log blockhouse of the American frontier when the latter stood alone and was not part of a larger fort.” The Fort Pitt Block House – and presumably the other redoubts of Fort Pitt – was different from more traditional redoubts in that it had a roof, therefore making it seem more like a blockhouse. (Brian Leigh Dunnigan, Forts within a Fort: Niagara’s Redoubts, pages 5-8.)