Walking Wall

Walking Wall

 

(in Russian, guliai-gorod), a mobile field fortification consisting of wooden shields with loopholes cut in them, used by Russian troops in the 16th century. The shields of the walking wall were transported behind the troops in a supply train which was called the wall train (grad-oboz). The walking walls were managed by a special wall marshal (guliaev-voevoda). In combat conditions individual shields or “little fortresses” (ostrozhki) made up of several shields were used as mobile covers against fire. The shields were moved in the direction of the enemy by the strel’tsy (musketeers) or gunners concealed behind them. In the summer they were moved on wheels and in the winter, on runners. When the troops were camped, various fortifications such as walls and towers were assembled from the shields of the walking walls, and in attacks on forts they were used as shelters and assault structures. The shields were secured with wood, iron, and rope bindings and were smeared with clay to protect against fire. Walking walls are first mentioned in the description of the campaign of the Russian troops against Kazan in 1530. The walking wall was used in the storming of Kazan (1552) and in other campaigns by Ivan IV, by the Siberian cossacks, and in the battles against the Crimean Tatars (1572).

G. F. SAMOILOVICH

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