On 28 June, 2003, Fort Mott State Park Historian Andy Grant and his staff, along with Army Ground Forces Association (AGFA) and Coast Defense Study Group (CDSG) members Mike Murray and Shawn Welch, and CDSG member Bolling Smith, hosted a Coast Artillery Living History day at Fort Mott State Park located at Pennsville, NJ. The event began promptly at 1000 hours and witnessed a steady flow of visitors right until the event closed at 1700 hours.
The main exhibits were in two locations, the post switchboard room, and the
Battery Arnold Commanders' Station. The switchboard room exhibits included ordnance
(16-inch, 10-inch, and 3-inch projectiles), fire control equipment (M31 and
M1904 telescopic sights), communications equipment, uniforms from the period
of Ft. Mott's active service, and models of batteries similar to those at Fort
Mott. The communications displays were functional, and included a BD-72 twelve
line field switchboard (which hosted all working telephones), a EE-71 and EE-91
on stands, a non-functioning EE-31 telephone and a time-interval system that
also featured an original time-interval cutout box from one of the plotting
rooms at Ft. Mott for either Battery Arnold or Battery Harker. There was a functioning
time-interval system that had bells located in both the switchboard room and
the battery commanders station.
The Battery Commander's station was established as a standard
fire control station with one M1910A1 azimuth instrument on a pedestal mount,
and a second M1910A1 on tripod simulating the spotting scope. Three EE-91
fire control telephones were installed and wired to the BD-72 switchboard
in the switchboard room and provided "intercom" communications for
the living historians as well as a functional display for the public to experience.
The EE-91's had both HS-19 single receiver and HS-17 double receiver headsets
as well as TS-9 handsets for use. There was also a functioning Time-Interval
bell in the station.
Additionally, the Ft. Mott park staff manned a third M1910A1
in the Park's newly restored Fire Control Command Tower. This was an especially
important treat for the public as this tower was masterfully restored right
down to the telephone terminal box! The tower itself provides superior views
of Fort Mott as well as a view to part of the Delaware River. Since the post
was active, many trees have since grown and now block a full view of what
would have been the engagement area of the fort along the Delaware river.
The event probably saw over 600 people visit the park, and the reaction from the public was most satisfying. Bolling Smith from the Coast Defense Study Group (CDSG) also provided support for interpretation as well as many special and unique items for display ranging from the telescopic sights to various uniforms from the period of Ft. Mott's active service days.
In the future, additional members of the Park Staff will assist in the living history presentations and provide a greater feel for what active duty would have been like at the post during the mobilizations of 1940 and 1941. Fort Mott promises to be an outstanding host for Coast Artillery Living History in the future!