Guardian of the Sound: A Pictorial History of Fort H.G. Wright, Fishers Island, N.Y.
by Pierce Rafferty and John Wilton


by Col. Alexander M. Holder, Jr. Coast Defense Study Group Journal; August 1998; Volume 12, Issue 3, page 122.

This is a truly wonderful book. The authors intended to produce a work describing Fort H.G. Wright for the benefit of past and present residents, civilian and military, of Fishers Island, but ended up with a book that will be appreciated by a much larger group. The book was released July 5, 1998, at a celebration of the fort's 100th anniversary. As the title indicates, this is primarily a photographic history. Over 200 pages (8x10 1/2 inches) are devoted to photographs of the fort's buildings, armament, soldiers, and families from before the turn of the century until after World War II. The photographs, many from private collections, are lovingly reproduced on quality paper stock and provide fresh images for the military buff. Fortunately, the photo reproduction is excellent, resulting in an extremely attractive book, one which any student of coast defense history would be proud to own.

Those interested in seacoast artillery will note that some fifty pages are devoted to armament and associated equipment. Six of those pages are devoted to armament and associated equipment. Six of those pages show Battery J.M.K. Davis at various stages of its life - connected by happy circumstance to Fort H.G. Wright by manning detachments. The text is clear and concise and well supported by maps. The same can be said for descriptions accompanying the photographs.

The following specific comments and corrections are offered:

Page 7. The officers' headgear suggests circa 1888 vice 1898 (pointed out by another reader). [Authors' note: further research suggests 1891 is the correct date]

Page 11. The 5-inch seige gun is most likely mounted on unarmed Battery Connell, Fort Mansfield.

Page 19. The station might be for the searchlight controller (see also page 16).

Pages 64 and 65. Wonderful uniform shots begging description.

Page 68. These "civilian workers" appear to be soldiers in the denim fatigue uniform.

Page 106. The photo is not of Battery Hamilton. My guess is Battery French, Fort Philip Kearney, R.I.

Page 159. A teasing glimpse of two early brick fire control stations (behind the post exchange) torn down before World War I.

Page 219. Battery Connell was armed with M1900 5-inch guns/M1903 pedestal mounts.

Page 220. Battery Kelly had but one 4.7-inch Armstrong gun and was last armed with a pair of M1900 5-inch guns on M1903 pedestal mounts.

Page 221. 6th Co., Ft. Terry, became Battery B, 7th Provisional Regiment. 7th Co., Ft. Wright, became 4th Co., Coast Defenses of Long Island Sound.

The general military buff will note that a grand opportunity was missed by not describing at least some of the uniforms and accouterments. Although the authors were obviously limited by the supply of period photographs, those interested in seacoast artillery will wish there were more photographs of ancillary structures such as fire control stations, searchlight shelters, mine casemates, etc. In particular, the singular arched casemates behind Batteries Barlow and Butterfield are not depicted at all.

None of this detracts from my conviction that this is the finest photographic history of any American fort. The authors have made a book that will set well on any military bookshelf.