The Coast Defense Study Group (CDSG) is a non-profit corporation that promotes education about and preservation of seacoast defenses, primarily those of the United States.

Our key missions include the preservation of coast defense sites, equipment, and records, and conducting charitable activities that promote this preservation.

CDSG education includes:

  • Encouraging research about seacoast defenses by amateur and professional historians.
  • Publishing the quarterly Coast Defense Journal and CDSG Newsletter.
  • Publishing reprints of basic references about US seacoast fortifications.
  • Making available scanned documentation about US seacoast fortifications, artillery, and equipment, mostly from original documents at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
  • Holding annual conferences, which include tours of fortifications and presentations on seacoast defenses.
  • Organizing tours to more remote fortified locations.

CDSG preservation efforts include:

  • Maintaining a network of site representatives, who maintain contact with fortification owners or managers.
  • Providing advice and assistance to those owners and managers.
  • Providing comments and advice about proposed changes to US seacoast fortifications.  CDSG often becomes an interested party in Federal Section 106 reviews and similar state processes.
  • Offering grants from the CDSG Fund for the preservation and interpretation of US seacoast fortifications, ordnance, equipment, and documentation.

A Brief History of the CDSG.

CDSG was formed in 1977 by a small group of military historians, who wanted to focus on US coastal fortifications, many of which were poorly documented or understood.  In 1978, the group held its first conference to tour the fortifications at New York Harbor, and started exchanging documentation found at NARA.  Later milestones include:

  • 1984 – CDSG began to hold annual conferences, which continue today.
  • 1986 – Publication of a quarterly journal started.
  • 1989 – First tour outside the continental US (British and US fortifications at Bermuda).
  • 1991 – First of several tours to Manila Bay.
  • 1993 – Organized as a Maryland non-profit corporation.
  • 1994 – Published first reprint of US seacoast defense books.
  • 1995 – First grants from the CDSG Fund.
  • 1998 – Established website.
  • 2011 – Began projects to help move surplus naval gun barrels to historic batteries for display
  • 2015 – Updated website with improved credit card service.
  • 2015 – Published Updated 3rd Edition of American Seacoast Defenses, A Reference Guide.
  • 2017 – Held our 35th Annual Conference visiting the defenses of New York

The Coast Defense Study Group, Inc. was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) Maryland non-profit corporation on August 23, 1993.

The CDSG has a three-person board of directors, who meet by conference call each quarter.  Each director serves a three-year term, with one new director elected each year.  Volunteer members perform the functions of the organization through committees.  The important committees are treasury, membership, publications, preservation, and site representatives.  Current membership is approximately 400.  The membership dues primarily support the printing and mailing of the Journal and Newsletter, and maintenance of the website.  Annual conferences are self-supporting, with the attendees sharing the costs of meeting places, site entry fees, and banquet.

The quarterly Coast Defense Journal includes articles written by members, and reviewed and edited for accuracy and source documentation.  Also, CDSG publishes on demand the American Seacoast Defenses, A Reference Guide, now in its third edition and available as a hardbound book as well as an electronic version.  CDSG has published reprints of six basic US seacoast defense books, and one never published doctoral dissertation about the earliest US forts.

The CDSG Fund supports Preservation and Interpreation.

Since 1995, the CDSG Fund has made 25 grants to museums, site owners, and other organizations to preserve fortifications, ordnance, equipment, and documentation, or to provide interpretive displays.  Each project typically involves advice and facilitation by CDSG members in addition to the monetary grant.  Some notable projects partially funded by Fund grants include:

  • Transfer and move of three surplus Navy 16” gun barrels to former fortifications that once had the same ordnance, at Cape Henlopen (DE) State Park, Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge, and Hartshorne Woods Park, Monmouth County, NJ.
  • Arranged and funded the transfer of a rare 25kw motor generator from Gateway NRA at Fort Hancock, New Jersey to Fort MacArthur Military Museum, California.
  • Multiple grants over the years to the American Museum of Natural History to help build and repair the dock on Great Gull Island (former Fort Michie), Long Island Sound.
  • Funded the acquisition of a support structure for solar panels that generate power for lighting in Battery Townsley at former Fort Cronkite, CA (now part of Golden Gate NRA).
  •  Funded the installation of temporary wooden supports under the rare double spiral granite staircase in the Advance Redoubt that protected the land approach to Fort Adams (RI) to prevent further damage and collapse.

The CDSG Volunteers

The CDSG depends on its members to volunteer to organize the annual conferences and special tours, to write for the Coast Defense Journal and CDSG Newsletter, to be site representatives, and to volunteer for CDSG committees and functions.  The CDSG has become an established organization, which is recognized and respected by fortifications site owners and managers. The CDSG provides key sources of information on American seacoast defenses and has actively enhanced the availability of information and documentation on the subject. The CDSG continues to seek ways to support preservation and restoration efforts at former US seacoast defenses sites.