Department of Environmental Protection

New Jersey State Park Service

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Fort Mott Historic Site Overview

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.

Military Life
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.

  1. Battery Gregg – Battery Gregg was completed in December of 1900 and contained emplacements for two five-inch rapid fire guns on barbette pedestal mounts with shields. After the guns were removed in 1913, an observation station for Battery Harker’s Commander was installed in the gun emplacement on the right.
  2. Battery Harker service area – Battery Harker had three 10-inch guns mounted on disappearing carriages. The lower level consists of a separate powder and shell rooms and a hoist to raise the projectiles and powder to the upper level.
  3. Battery Harker gun platform – Battery Harker’s 10-inch guns were mounted on disappearing carriages. The remains of the bolts to secure the carriage remain at the bottom of the gun pit around the counterweight well. From this level of the emplacement the large guns were loaded and fired. The ammunition hoist raised projectiles and powder to a location to the right of the gun.
  4. The Parapet – This massive concrete wall, as much as 35 feet thick, was designed to conceal and protect the guns and ammunition magazines from the flat trajectory fire of enemy warships. This defensive wall was itself protected by an additional 60 feet of earth in front of the concrete.
  5. Battery Arnold – Sharing the parapet with Battery Harker, the three 12-inch guns of Battery Arnold were the most powerful armament at Fort Mott. One of these could accurately fire a 1,000-pound projectile eight miles down the river. The magazines located beneath the gun platform could hold over 200 rounds of ammunition.
  6. 1870’s gun emplacements – As part of a post-Civil War defense project, the area where Fort Mott is currently located was to have a line of muzzle-loading guns and magazines built along the river to help protect against enemy vessels. Only a few emplacements and magazines were ever completed by the time the project was abandoned. The tops of two completed brick emplacements are still visible in the grass between Battery Arnold and Battery Krayenbuhl.
  7. Cable Hut – This small subterranean room with an exposed concrete roof was the location where the telephone cables connecting the communication systems of Fort Mott, Fort Delaware and Fort DuPont after crossing the river within a submerged cable. From the cable hut, the telephone wires continued to the switchboard room.
  8. 1870s Magazines – These two mounds are part of the original fortifications designed in the 1870s but left incomplete when funding for the project was cut. Each mound served as powder storage, and the one closest to Battery Krayenbuhl was later modified with concrete position on top as part of the fire control system for Battery Edwards guns.
  9. Western Fire Control Tower – Built in 1902, this tower served as a primary observation station used by soldiers to identify vessels travelling in the Delaware River. This tower was assigned to the 12-inch guns of Battery Arnold.
  10. Peace Magazine – High levels of moisture in each of the gun emplacement powder magazines was a continual issue. This storage magazine was built in 1904 to eliminate the moisture problem. Windows at the top of the building and vents in the floor allow maximum ventilation which helped to keep the gun powder as dry as possible.
  11. Postern Tunnel and Battery Lane – This tunnel was built through the parados and allowed the extension of the narrow-gauge railway behind the batteries to service the Peace Magazine. The road leading behind the main gun emplacements is known as Battery Lane.
  12. Battery Edwards – Battery Edwards has casemates (enclosed gun emplacements) for 3-inch rapid fire guns that were constructed within two of the original 1870s powder magazines. Battery Edwards was designed to protect the fort from smaller, high-speed vessels or landing infantry units. Battery Edwards is unique to U.S. coastal fortifications as it is the only place 3-inch guns were casemated.
  13. Battery Krayenbuhl – Battery Krayenbuhl had two 5-inch rapid fire guns mounted on balanced-pillar carriages. Interior magazines were built below the gun platforms and electric hoists were used to deliver ammunition. The guns were designed to protect the channel above and below the fort and could fire to the rear of the fort. After the guns were removed in 1917, an observation station for Battery Arnold’s Commander was installed in the left emplacement.
  14. Telephone Switchboard Room – During World War I, major improvements to the fire control system were made at Fort Mott. A switchboard room was built to centralize fire control communication between observers, plotting rooms, and gun crews at the three forts. The interior room to the left was the battery room which supplied power to the telephone system.
  15. Generator Room – From the time the fortification was built, electrical power was integral to the soldiers at the fort. Originally, power was generated from steam driven generators; it was later updated to the three gasoline driven generators still visible today. All the electrical power for the entire post and fortification was made at this location.
  16. Latrine - Two latrines were built into the parados, one for each of the two major gun batteries. A separate room within the latrines was provided for Officers. The latrines emptied into the moat located directly behind the parados.
  17. Moat and Parados – The moat and parados are part of rear defenses of the main gun emplacements from attack from the rear and from vessels located upriver from Fort Mott.
  18. Eastern Fire Control Tower - Built in 1903, this tower served as a primary observation station to identify vessels traveling in the Delaware River. This tower was assigned to the 10-inch guns of Battery Harker. The tower also originally had a plotting room on the first floor and was the post’s meteorological station.
  19. Guard House – Built in 1903, this structure was originally constructed to be the post’s guard house for five guards and up to twelve prisoners. The jail cells were once located in the space where the restrooms are located today. In 1941 the jail cells were removed and the building was repurposed to be a mess hall and later quarters for an enlisted sergeant.
  20. Ordnance Warehouse – The armament of the fortifications required many spare parts and tools be stored closed to the gun emplacements. This building has a loading dock to help expedite the ability to access the parts and get them in and out of the structure. Currently, this building serves as the park’s museum and gift shop.
  21. Post Headquarters – This two-story building once housed the post’s administration offices. The post commander, post adjutant and battery clerks had offices on the first floor, and the second floor had a room for court martials and a reading room.
  22. Parade Ground – This large field had many uses while Fort Mott was an active army post. Soldiers and officers would practice marching, stand in formation, and play baseball and football in this field. Two large barracks, a hospital and Officer’s Row once surrounded the parade ground. Today, only two non-commissioned officers duplexes are left standing.
  23. Finns Point Interpretive Trail – This half-mile walking path will take visitors to Finns Point National Cemetery. The cemetery holds the remains of 2,436 Confederate prisoners of war and 150 Union soldiers who died while on Pea Patch Island. The cemetery continues to be an active cemetery for veterans and their families.
  24. Post Rifle Range – While stationed at Fort Mott, soldiers would be required to practice and qualify with their rifles. This is the location where the soldiers would have fired at the targets hundreds of feet away. Some of the firing positions are still visible.
  25. Wharf – The Delaware River was the main lifeline of Fort Mott. When constructed, most of the building materials, guns and ammunition were delivered from the river. The wharf also provided access to travel between Fort DuPont and Fort Delaware. Today, the wharf continues to provide access to Fort Delaware and Delaware City with seasonal (May-September) ferry service.

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!

  • Keep your historic site / park and surrounding property clean and green! Protect this site by taking your trash with you. Whatever you carry into the site, plan on carrying it out too. Bring a bag or two for trash, recycling and cleaning up after your pet. There are no trash receptacles at this site. Thank you!
  • No Smoking on NJ State Park Service Property. Pursuant to N.J.P.L.2005, c.383 (C.26:3D-56)
  • Alcoholic beverages are not permitted at state historic sites [ N.J.A.C. 7:2-2.6]
  • The collection or removal of any object from State Park property is prohibited without written permission from the Superintendent.
  • Use of metal detecting devices on or unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) on or over the property is not permitted without a special use permit (SUP) from the State historic site / park.
  • Commercial photography is not permitted on the property without a special use permit (SUP) from the historic site / park.
  • Interior photography, videotaping or audio taping are not permitted in the historic structure / visitor center / museum, except by prior written permission and for educational purposes only.
  • Non-commercial photography is permitted on the property (outside), but please help preserve the historic site / park and any surrounding property by not attaching anything to, climbing or sitting on historic structures and features or disturbing any plants, wild or cultivated. Photography may not interfere with other visitors to the historic site / park or impede site operations.
  • Food and beverages; pets/animals, except for service animals, are not permitted in the historic structure / visitor center / museum.
  • Please refrain from touching objects/furnishings in and building components of historic structures and museums, except where invited to do so by staff.

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.


Related Links

Fort Mott State Park
Fort Mott Park Association
Fort Delaware State Park
Coast Defense Study Group


Phone Number

454 Fort Mott Road
Pennsville, NJ 08070


Historic Site Hours

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 

Park Fees

Entrance Fee None

Admission is free, program fees may apply. 

Please call the site for hours of operation.   

Other Related Fees
Map / Directions

GPS Coordinates
39.60500, -75.55102