Army Ground Forces
Coast Artillery Living History at Fort Wool
On July 21, 2001, Shawn Welch, Andy Bennett, Adam Welch, and Tracy Ralphs of the Army Ground Forces Association provided an overview of the Chesapeake Bay harbor defenses and Coast Artillery to the regularly scheduled tours of Fort Wool, and to private boaters who stopped to visit the City of Hampton park. Each participant portrayed an officer or enlisted member of the 246th Coast Artillery Regiment (HD) (VANG), one of the units that garrisoned Fort Wool, or a member of the Coast Artillery School, stationed at Fort Monroe.
Tours began in the parade ground of the fort with a general introduction into the history of Fort Wool by the City of Hampton Park rangers.
After the park personel completed their introduction, the tours were turned over to AGFA members. They provided a short overview of the Coast Artillery, then the group was divided into two tours of 30 to 50 people to visit the two interpretive stations.
An intepretive station located in one of the storage magazines focused on communications equipment, including EE-31, EE-71, and EE-91 telephones (coast artillery specific) and four field phones (EE-3B, EE-4, EE-5 and EE-8) connected to a BD-95 Coast Artillery fire control switchboard. A functioning time-interval apparatus, which allowed coordination of the various functions of firing the weapons (plotting position, weapon firing, taking range measurement) was in use with one bell in the room with the main display. Also within this room were selected pieces of inert ordnance, including a 3-inch case and projectile, 90 mm case and projectile, 37 mm cases and projectiles, a 16-inch powder bag, two 16-inch dummy projectiles, and inert Mk-XV and M-30 primers. Charts and interpretive placards provided brief introduction to fire control, communications, and ordnance.
A mock fire control station was established in the mine command station on top of the old fort, with two M1910A1 azimuth instruments, the TI bell, and two EE-91 telephones connected through the switchboard to several other phones located in the magazine. The visitors were able to use the instruments to track ships and observe tourists visiting the 3-inch guns of Battery Erwin at Ft. Monroe, and speak to other visitors in the magazine using the EE-91 telephones.
Each tour lasted approximately 45 minutes. Several visitors from private boats stayed much longer to explore the fort and discuss the Coast Artillery and how it functioned in the defenses of the United States. The tours were very well received by the visitors, and AGFA plans to continue events at Fort Wool in coordination with the City of Hampton
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