“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Cape May in Cape May County, New Jersey — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

History of Coastal Defenses

History of Coastal Defenses Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Bill Coughlin, August 18, 2010
1. History of Coastal Defenses Marker
Inscription. During the late 18th century, the first coastal defenses built in the United States were earthen forts constructed on high points near important harbors. Soon thereafter, star-shaped stone forts were built in the years leading up to the War of 1812. Fort McHenry in Baltimore and Fort Wood (now Liberty Island) in New York Harbor were examples of this type of fortification. After the War of 1812, hexagonal forts like Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina were built. From 1890 to 1910, concrete batteries with big guns began to replace concentrated forts. Fort Mott in Pennsville, New Jersey is an example of this kind of dispersed fortification. In 1905, Secretary of War Taft, under President Theodore Roosevelt, added searchlights and electrification to these forts. The Taft system also added mathematical triangulation to aim the guns at enemy shipping.

This system was still in use during World War II.

With each generation of coastal defense, fewer fortifications were required. And as guns became more and more powerful, forts could be moved further and further away from the harbors that they protected. With the construction of Fort Miles in 1940, the Harbor Defenses of the Delaware had moved fully 100 miles South of the Port of Philadelphia.
Location. 38° 56.615′ 
Cape May Markers Photo, Click for full size
By Bill Coughlin, August 18, 2010
2. Cape May Markers
N, 74° 58.012′ W. Marker is in Cape May, New Jersey, in Cape May County. Marker is on Sunset Blvd. (County Route 606), on the left when traveling west. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Cape May NJ 08204, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Fire Control Tower No. 23 (here, next to this marker); The Top of the Fire Tower (here, next to this marker); Construction of Fire Control Tower No. 23 (here, next to this marker); The abrupt end of Fort Miles (a few steps from this marker); The Construction of Fort Miles (a few steps from this marker); Landscape (a few steps from this marker); Cape May during World War II (a few steps from this marker); S.S. Atlantus (approx. 0.2 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Cape May.
More about this marker. The background of the marker contains a silhouette of the area showing Fire Control Tower No. 23. Also present is a photograph of “The gun battery at Fort Mott in Pennsville, NJ, [which] was part of the late 19th-century defense of the Delaware River.” and a map of fortifications along the lower Delaware River. The map has a caption of “The map above shows how the fortifications of the Delaware River shifted some 100 miles downstream from the American Revolution to World War II. The arc in red shows the
Markers on Sunset Blvd. Photo, Click for full size
By Bill Coughlin, August 18, 2010
3. Markers on Sunset Blvd.
Several markers are found along this path. The History of Coastal Defenses marker is seen here on the right.
range of the guns at Fort Saulsbury, Delaware that were erected shortly after World War I. The arc in green shows the much longer range of the guns placed in Fort Miles in the early 1940s. Lewis, Emanuel Raymond, Seacoast Fortifications of the United States (Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 1970), page 13.”
Categories. Military
Fire Control Tower No. 23 Photo, Click for full size
By Bill Coughlin, August 18, 2010
4. Fire Control Tower No. 23
The History of Coastal Defenses marker can be seen on the path leading to the World War II Viewing Tower.
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 509 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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