Forth of July at Fort Hancock

by Jack Keegan

Leaving very early from our friends bungalow in Leonardo we travel to Fort Hancock, which is located on Sandy Hook. Arriving at the Main Gate we are greeted as VIP's, one of my Fathers cousins is married to a Master Sergeant in the Coast Artillery,and we now go to the Parade Ground. Near Headquarter the Forts saluting cannon is firing off rounds, one for each of the States, forty eight in all.

Now comes the parade of the troops-first in line are members of the Third Coast Artillery Gun Battery soldiers the ones that man the guns at the fort. Following are the soldiers who are assigned to the Mine Batterys, these fellows lay and control the mines laid in the surrounding harbor. Next in line is the Engineers Company, followed by the Quartermaster Corp contingent. A great and enjoyable sight for a youngster.
After the review we are escorted to the Enlisted Men's Mess hall for Lunch. Don't remember what was had to eat but it must have been good.

Next on the tour of the Fort and it's facilities, a walk around the area followed.We are shown the Commissary's Bakery which bakes over a hundred loaves of bread a day.Then on to the Post Exchange where soldiers were able to buy articles not supplied to them by the Army, at a reduced price.

Next on the agenda is a walking junket of the reasons for the Forts existence.
The guns that defend New York Harbor. First it' a visit to Battery Potter with it's 2-12 Inch disappearing guns,then it's on to Battery Granger with it's2- 12 inch disappearing guns. And then to the 20 inch Mortar Battery four in all, with their associated ammunition rooms and interconnecting tunnels. Then we are acquainted with the quick firing 3 and 5 inch gun batterys mounted on reinforced concrete structures protected by earth filled breast works, hopefully installed to detect and destroy enemy torpedo boats and destroyers attacking New York Harbor.

We are also shown the forts two eight inch Railway Guns, these weapons are mounted on special flat cars and have associated ammunition boxcars. Rail lines run from the fort and extend down the Jersey Shore allowing these weapons to travel south, to were they would be required The fort has several small steam locomotives that are used to move the guns and ammo cars into positions when needed.

All in all a wonderful day spent at the Fort, with explanations of it's workings by Master Sergeant Sam, sorry can't remember his last name. A great treat for a young lad.


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