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A redoubt (historically redout) is a fort or fort system usually consisting of an enclosed defensive emplacement outside a larger fort, usually relying on earthworks, though others are constructed of stone or brick. It is meant to protect soldiers outside the main defensive line and can be a permanent structure or a hastily-constructed temporary fortification. The word means "a place of retreat". Redoubts were a component of the military strategies of most European empires during the colonial era, especially in the outer works of Vauban-style fortresses made popular during the 17th century, although the concept of redoubts has existed since medieval times. A redoubt differs from a redan in that the redan is open in the rear, whereas the redoubt was considered an enclosed work.
During the Wars of the Three Kingdoms redoubts were frequently built to protect older fortifications from the more effective artillery of the period. Often close to ancient fortifications there were small hills that overlooked the defences, but in previous centuries these had been too far from the fortifications to be a threat. A small hill close to Worcester was used as an artillery platform by the Parliamentarians when they successfully besieged Worcester in 1646. In 1651 before the Battle of Worcester the hill was turned into a redoubt by the Royalists, (the remains of which can be seen today in Fort Royal Hill Park). During the Battle of Worcester, the Parliamentarians captured this redoubt and turned its guns on Worcester. In so doing they made the defence of the city untenable. This action effectively ended the battle, the last of the English Civil War.
See the Battle of Poltava (1709), the Battle of Bunker Hill (1775), the Battle of Yorktown (1781) where Alexander Hamilton led his only military command against a British redoubt, the Lines of Torres Vedras of the Peninsular War (1809–1810), the Harwich Redoubt (1809-1810), the Battle of Borodino (1812), the Charge of the Light Brigade (1854), the Railroad Redoubt of the Battle of Vicksburg (1863), the Battle of Plevna (1877-1878), the Battle of Rorke's Drift (1879), and during World War I the "National Redoubt of Antwerp" (1914) as well as the Hawthorn Ridge Redoubt (1916) and the Vercors plateau redoubt used by the Free French Forces in World War II, are examples where redoubts played a crucial role in military history.
A national redoubt is an area to which the remnant forces of a nation can be withdrawn if the main battle has been lost, or beforehand if defeat is considered inevitable. Typically a region is chosen with a geography favoring defense, such as a mountainous area or a peninsula, in order to function as a final hold-out to preserve national independence for the duration of the conflict.
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