Fort Mott was designed after the American Civil War as part of a three-fort coastal defense system for the Delaware River. The fortifications weren’t built until the late 1890s and the fort was obsolete after World War I. Its guns were never fired in battle. Visitors can wander through the old gun batteries, following interpretive signs with detailed descriptions of the fort. The park museum houses displays on Fort Mott’s place in history and technology used in defending the river. The Delaware River is just beyond the fortifications, with a shoreline that offers good spots for walking and picnicking.
Fort Mott was a self-contained military community that once had over 30 buildings, including two large barracks, non-commissioned and officers' housing, a hospital, a post exchange, a bakery, a library, a guard house, a stable, YMCA and a school for the soldiers' children. Today, visitors can take a self-guided tour and see the five gun batteries, the parapet, peace magazine, the switchboard room, the generator room, fire control towers and post headquarters.
For more information visit Fort Mott State Park.
Fort Mott State Park is located on the Delaware River in Pennsville, Salem County, New Jersey. Originally built as part of the federal government’s late 19th-century plan to defend the Delaware River, today Fort Mott State Park offers a unique blend of historical, cultural and recreational activities for visitors.
The land where Fort Mott State Park now stands was purchased in the 1830s by the United States government as the future site of a fortification. Originally called “The Battery at Finn’s Point”, the proposed fortification was one of a three-fort plan to protect growing industries and shipping along the Delaware River. Construction began in 1872 but was halted in 1876 due to a lack of funding. Only two-gun emplacements and several magazines were completed.
With advancements in military technology made during and after the American Civil War (1862-1865), the United States’ defenses were dangerously inadequate. In 1885, President Grover Cleveland, at the request of Congress, appointed the Endicott board, named after its chairman Secretary of War William Endicott, to study the existing coastal defenses and develop a coastal defense plan for the United States. The main defensive concept for the Delaware River was the dispersion of armaments into three separate fortifications: a new fortification in New Jersey, a new fortification in Delaware (Fort DuPont) and upgrades to the existing fortification (Fort Delaware) on Pea Patch Island located between New Jersey and Delaware in the middle of the Delaware River.
In New Jersey, the original plan for the Battery at Finn’s Point was abandoned and construction of new fortifications began in 1896. Large caliber weapons, three 10-inch and three 12-inch guns, were installed on disappearing carriages. These guns had an effective range of seven to eight miles and shot projectiles that weighed 600 and 1,000 pounds, respectively. Two batteries, each with 5-inch rapid fire guns, and one battery with two 3-inch rapid fire guns, were also part of the defenses. When completed, Fort Mott contained cutting-edge military technology.
This fortification was officially renamed Fort Mott on December 16, 1897 to honor Major General Gershom Mott, a decorated veteran of the Mexican–American and Civil Wars.
Fort Mott was a self-contained military community. The post had over 30 buildings, including two large barracks, non-commissioned and officer’s housing, a hospital, a post exchange, a library, a guard house, a stable, a YMCA, and a school for the soldiers’ children. The Delaware River served as the main transportation infrastructure for Fort Mott with munitions, supplies and construction materials arriving at the fort by barge.
Sports activities were an important part of life for a soldier stationed at Fort Mott. Over the years, Fort Mott hosted baseball teams, a football team and a basketball team; for officers there was a clay tennis court. While off duty, the soldiers would hunt in the local marshes for waterfowl and muskrats.
For married soldiers and officers, limited housing was available on post with additional options located just off post on Fort Mott Road. Some of these houses still exist on the northern side of the Parade Ground and on private property nearby. Most families of army personnel stationed at Fort Mott led a quiet and secluded life. Many of the families tended gardens and kept livestock to pass the time. The nearby towns of Salem and Delaware City also provided an escape from life on the army post.
End of an Era
Troops were regularly stationed at Fort Mott from 1897 to 1922. With the construction of Fort Saulsbury near Milford, Delaware shortly before World War I, the technology at Fort Mott was deemed obsolete. From 1922 to 1943 the federal government only maintained a caretaking detachment at the Fort. Towards the end of that period, Fort Mott’s guns were dismantled and moved to other locations or cut up for scrap. Fort Mott was declared “surplus property” in 1943. In 1947, the State of New Jersey purchased Fort Mott as a historic site and opened it to the public on June 24, 1951.
Topics of interpretation for schools (grades 4 and up; year-round), groups, special events and programming include Post Civil War America; Spanish American War; World War I; advancements in military technology in the early 20th Century, the Interwar Period (1920-40), World War II and Life on a Military Post.
A self-guided tour of the fortifications and grounds is available. Interpretive signage is located throughout the fort to supplement the tour.
Historian led tours of the park are available for groups with reservations. Group size is limited to 25 people. Please contact the park office to schedule a tour.
Special history tours are also scheduled throughout the year. Please check out the park’s official Facebook page for the current event schedule.
A half mile down Cemetery Road from Fort Mott is Finn's Point National Cemetery. Originally part of the Fort Mott Military Reservation, when the State of New Jersey purchased the Fort Mott property in 1947 to become a state park, the US government retained the 4.5-acre cemetery as a National Cemetery. Finn's Point is the final resting place for soldiers who fought in all wars since the Civil War. During the Civil War, 2,436 Confederate prisoners of war who died while imprisoned on Pea Patch Island as well as 138 Union guards were the first to be buried at the cemetery. In 1879 a marble monument was placed to memorialize the Union soldiers and in 1910 an 85-foot obelisk for the Confederate soldiers was added. During Fort Mott’s tenure as an active military post, Finn's Point National Cemetery was the post cemetery for soldiers and their families. Today, Finn's Point National Cemetery is still an active cemetery with interments. In December, the cemetery is a location that participates in the Wreaths Across America program.
Facilities for People with Disabilities
We encourage people with disabilities who require special considerations to contact the historic site / park at the phone number listed in the general information on the home page of the historic site / park. The staff will assist with arrangements. Text telephone (TT) users, please call the NJ Relay Services at (800) 852-7899.
For the Comfort and Enjoyment of All
This historic site / park is part of the NJ State Park system and your cooperation with the following will help ensure the survival of the museum collections, historic structures & features and surrounding property for the enjoyment and education of future generations!
Please contact this historic site / park with specific inquiries about any of these restrictions, as there may be some variations at this specific historic site / park.
454 Fort Mott Road
Pennsville, NJ 08070
Summer Hours 8 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. (Memorial Day to Labor Day)
Fall Hours 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Labor Day to September 30)
Winter Hours 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. (October to April)
Spring Hours 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. (May 1 to Memorial Day)
Park Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day
Entrance Fee None
Admission is free, program fees may apply.
Please call the site for hours of operation.