|The Maham tower built in front of Fort Watson (from Santee County Organization exhibit at Fort Watson)
As noted in our previous post, the South Carolina 1780 Campaign has generated its first encounter of one side blockading a town or fort, which could result in a siege. Anticipating such an event, I thought that it might be a good time to start working on a Maham Tower.
|My Maham Tower concept.
During the siege of Fort Watson from April 15, 1781 to April 23, 1781, the attacking American army of Francis Marion and Light Horse Harry Lee lacked artillery to blow a hole in the stockade walls of the fort. It appeared that they would not be able to cut off the fort's water supply or starve them out, as the garrison was adequately provisioned.
Showing a bit of American ingenuity, one of Marion's subordinates, Major Hezikiah Maham, came up with the idea of building a log tower of sufficient height so that sharpshooters could man the nest at the top and shoot down into Fort Watson. The tower was 30 feet in height and was pre-assembled in sections and erected during the night of April 22nd. On the following day, the Americans attacked the fort with the sharpshooters driving the British defenders off of the walls, making it easier for an escalade of the walls. As a result, the fort was forced to surrender.
|The Maham Tower's six-inch height relative to the walls of a fort.
The Maham Tower was such a success that it would be used again at the siege of Ninety Six one month later.
So this evening I grabbed a pair of pruners and went into my backyard in search of building materials for my Maham Tower model. The "logs" will be made from the branches of a common bush, cut to length with my pruning shears.
I made a mock up of the tower by simply stacking up the logs as if they were a child's set of Lincoln Logs. I built the tower six-inches high so that it would loom over the three-inch height of my fort's walls. The platform at the summit is wide enough to hold two sharpshooter figures. I should also build a wooden mantlet on the top to protect the shooters from the defenders' rifle fire.
Now that I know that the concept of stacking logs will work, I will tear down the mock up and start the construction of the tower model. I will probably cut notches into the logs to give the model strength and help to hold the logs together. The project shouldn't take very long to complete. The model will be affixed to a piece of MDF board. I will finish off the board by applying wall board paste (Spackel Compound) and fine ballast to create the ground effects and finish it off with a wood pile (of left-over wood), tufts and static grass.