Today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Séré de Rivieres. After attending the École Polytechnique, the extremely prestigious school of engineering in Paris, he studied at the School of Artillery and Engineering in Metz. He was in the campaign in Italy in 1859. He worked on the defence of Lyon in 1870 during the Franco - Prussian War.
In 1873, he was appointed to lead the planning and building of a new strategy of defence and attack along the borders of France, particularly the new border in the North-East.
He devised a strategy of fortified towns and belts of forts, such as Verdun to Toul or Epinal to Belfort. Between these there were narrow gaps trouées, such as the Trouée de Charmes, through which the enemy would be tempted to advance and be met (and smashed) by the French Army.
The new forts were to a new polygonal design, to respond to the developments in artillery.
Séré de Rivieres retired in 1880. In total, 196 forts, 58 smaller works and 278 batteries were built by 1885.
|Fort Douaumont, in the Verdun sector|
|Fort Douaumont at the end of the Battle of Verdun|