In the December 2015 issue of Farm Collector, an article on the Vaughn post auger suggested that the U.S. Cavalry used the augers to create temporary horse corrals on the Great Plains. More likely, the fence posts with the corkscrew-style design are surplus World War I barbed wire anchor posts.
These posts were set in no-man’s land, the region between the opposing armies’ trenches, with barbed wire strung through the loops forming an entanglement to slow the advancing enemy. The barbed wire barriers were set up by wiring parties that ventured out under cover of darkness. The noise of hammering a traditional fence post into the ground was found to draw the enemy’s attention, so screwing these posts into the ground was much quieter and therefore safer.
In the photo above, I am shown with just such a setup (although the barbs are actually made of rubber). This photo was taken several years ago at a battlefield re-enactment at Midway Village Museum in Rockford, Illinois. Midway Village Museum hosts World War I and II re-enactments annually.
Douglas Pripps, Rockford, Illinois