Coast Defense Study Group visits Fort Miles
About 60 military historians visited Fort Miles in Cape Henlopen State Park and held their annual banquet in Battery 519 during their convention early this month.
Members of the Coast Defense Study Group spent several days in Delaware, touring upstate fortifications such as Fort Mott, Fort DuPont and Fort Delaware. They traveled south to visit Fort Saulsbury and spent May 2 and 3 at Fort Miles.
“CDSG members are extremely knowledgeable about coastal fortifications, and they were quite impressed with Fort Miles and the work our group has done,” said Dr. Gary D. Wray, president of Fort Miles Historical Association.
“FMHA has accomplished a great deal since we began in 2003. It was very gratifying that this group acknowledges what we have done and supports our stewardship of Fort Miles,” Wray added.
Fort Miles and Delaware State Parks hosted CDSG, which has nearly 400 members, for its banquet in the South Powder Room of Battery 519, the first time the group has held its banquet inside an actual casemate, Wray said.
State parks employees excavated the entrances to other World War II bunkers at Fort Miles, including one that housed the plotting table that coordinated information to aim the fort’s big guns. CDSG and FMHA members explored those bunkers, many of which have been sealed for decades.
“That was fascinating, to see those areas of the fort that have been closed and dormant for so long,” said Wray, who added that the bunkers have been resealed and again are off-limits to all.
CDSG members also visited Battery Smith, which was the site of the fort’s 16-inch guns. More recently, it was used by state parks as a maintenance shop. Part of that battery has been converted into work space for the Bunker Busters, a group of volunteers that is restoring the fort to its World War II appearance and converting it into a world- class World War II museum.
“Having CDSG here is a real feather in our cap,” said Wray. “This group travels the world to visit and study coastal defense.
“We’re proud CDSG thinks Fort Miles is worthy of its attention,” he said.