“TheCeļotājs” –
Liepāja Russian Tsar’s Fortifications
 
Northern Fortifications 
Lat: N56.59057, Lon: E021.02443
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Lībiešu iela 27,
 
                
 
The Northern Fortification Line of the Liepāja Fortress, 1894 – 1903
 
According to the intention of the Russian Army and Navy Headquarters, the Naval Port of Liepāja had to be provided with safe cover from the land and the sea to ensure protection in case of probable enemy’s attack. Therefore the outer fortification system for the naval base was erected during 1893 – 1906. The line girt the whole city.
 
The strongest positions’ main constructor, engineer I. A. McDonald and artillery Colonel N. Bubnov have planned in the North of Liepāja next to the Baltic Sea. The common project for this fortress was made by war engineer, Lieutenant General D. S. Zabotkin, 1837-1894. Four of eight large caliber cannon Batteries “Batterie” – fr. Fire unit or tactical unit, place for the cannon were built here. This cannon line had to secure the city port from the sea side. Each of the batteries was designed as a part of the gunnery complex and as a separate opposition unit as well. In case of battle every cannon battery was meant for using it as a complex and also for self-governing defense unit. The land border of the fortress, too, was secured by eight big and middle caliber gun batteries. Open and closed artillery positions were arranged between the Liepaja Lake and the Tosmare Lake. The Northern Battery No. 1, the Redan [“Redan” – fr. a triangle fortification unit, having guns stationed on both the outsides], the Lunette of the northern fortifications [“Lunette” – fr. an assailable from rear field fortification unit], the right and left redoubt [“Retoute” – fr. a fortification including wall and moat] and the three floating gun batteries [i.e built on massive wooden platforms, have not remained today] in the Liepaja Lake were the most significant ones. They have not survived till nowadays.
 
A sophisticated infrastructure was created in the rear of the fortification system. A 600 mm wide railway was built along the inner side of the fortification line. This was designed to provide ammunition, water, extra forces and mobile connections. Seventeen locomotives ran along the fortress railway. And the action of this railway was provided by special fortress railway battalion soldiers.
 
 
In close distance from the batteries, quarters/barracks were built for the soldiers of the artillery batteries. In general those were timber barracks built using horizontal beam manner. Separate, luxuriant house was made for commander of each battery. 
 
Exactness of the gunfire was detected by vertical and horizontal range-finder sentries. Aiming and shooting was guided from special turrets jointly, as well as from the command post of each of the batteries separately. Today, you can still see the distance-gauges in either of the batteries: semicircle structures, partly underground, partly over-ground, provided with a long and narrow vision-slit to watch the enemy. 
 
Connections between the positions were to be supplied by means of a telegraph, as well as special soldiers “signal providers” and homing pigeons.
 
There were several artillery gunpowder cellars built inside the fortress circle and the capacity of each of them was as much as 16 thousand poods “1 pood is – 16kg” for a total of “256,000kg” or 35.274 pounds for a total of “564384 pounds”. Although after the plan 185 cannons in coast fortification and 452 cannons and mortars in the terrestrial fortification had to be placed, there were less then a half of this amount in the batteries till the day of dissolution of for tress.
 
The Liepaja fortress was liquidated in November 1908. Part of the cannons were dismounted and brought to the Kaunas fortress in Lithuania, another part was melted or left in the port to be used as polers “slabs on the shore for vessel towing”. They attempted to blast the gun batteries, the underground structures and the gunpowder depots but did not succeed efficiently. 
 
So today we can still see the remains of the newest and the most up-to-date- fortress of the Tsar’s Russia.
 
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Revised: 12-22-2012 – 09:34:00