Army Ground Forces



Coast Artillery Living History at Fort Washington

Army Ground Forces Association members John Lassiter, Shawn Welch, and Adam Welch presented a Coast Artillery Living History program focusing on the 1930s and 1940s at the Fort Washington, Maryland National Historic site on July 10-11, 1999. The display consisted of Coast Artillery equipment such as a BD-71 six line switchboard (used by mobile batteries), EE-91 telephone (Coast Artillery common battery phone from 1941), EE-3B (1917 era wooden box field phone used by mobile batteries), and EE-8 telephones. All telephones were functional, and the public greatly enjoyed actually being able to use them. Various inert ammunition components were also on display, such as a wooden dowel-filled 16-inch powder bag, a 3-inch anti-aircraft shell case and projectile, and Mk-XV and M-30 primers. Unit insignia, photographs, a working EE-56 (modern components) Time Interval Apparatus with bells, two 10-inch projectiles, two M1910A1 Azimuth Instruments, and other items rounded out the various displays.

One azimuth instrument was set up with the main display, and another was set up on the parapet of the old fort for a view up and down the Potomac River and into Washington, DC. The objective of this exhibit was to recreate a base end station. With that in mind, the instrument was set up with a EE-8 field telephone and chest set (connected to the other telephones through the BD-71 switchboard) , the intrument's electrical components for night illumination (slate fuse panel and rheostat), and a time interval bell. The approach was hands on, allowing the public to track watercraft on the river much as a soldier would have done while serving in the Coast Artillery.

Participants wore period khaki uniforms representing the 3rd Coast Artillery District, with unit insignia of the 246th CA Regiment (Virginia Army National Guard) and the 2nd CA Regiment (Regular Army), both of which manned the Harbor Defenses of the Chesapeake Bay and could have been involved with Ft. Washington before it was disarmed in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Association members were equipped with individual weapons and equipment such as M1911 pistols, M1903 Springfield rifles, bayonets, and gas masks that would have been used by Coast Artillery soldiers of the 1930-45 period.


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