The State Camp Grounds at Sea Girt
The Sea Girt site, known formerly as the Stockton Farm, was selected in 1885 by the military authorities of New Jersey for annual encampments, and, when necessary as in 1898, mobilization of the organizations of the national guard for muster into Federal service.
The State leased the camp grounds in 1885 from the Sea Girt Land and Improvement Company at an annual rental of $3000. but did not acquire the property by purchase until 1891. In 1907 an additional purchase was made of two small tracts at the lower end of the Camp ground, thereby giving the State an ocean frontage of some 3000 feet, equal to that of the western boundary line. The total area of the camp ground is now 165 acres acquired at the moderate cost of $88,085.
One of the important improvements is a rifle range fully equipped from firing points to butts with all latest appliances. The range has the entire ocean frontage forming a natural safeguard against accidents, and with firing points ranging from 2.00 to 1000 yards this range is unexcelled by any rifle range in the United States. On part of the tract bordering on Stockton Lake on the south is the Club House and Administration Building of the New Jersey State Rifle Association. Bulkheads have been constructed in Stockton Lake, filled in and graded, and on them has been constructed a modern Arsenal for the storing of all military property, both State and Federal, for the arming and equipment of the national guard.
There have also been erected administration buildings, concrete kitchens, mess halls, latrines and other supplemental buildings making altogether a splendidly equipped camp ground for both temporary or extended use as may be required in period of peace or mobilization in event of War. Complete facilities for entraining and detraining troops; loading and unloading military stores and transporting animals are afforded by convenient sidings over which the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Central Railroad of New Jersey and the New York and Long Branch Railroad operate.
The building used as the headquarters of the Governor (Commander-in-Chief) is the New Jersey State building used at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition held in St. Louis, moved to and erected at Sea Girt in 1906, and since that time has been the scene of many political and social gatherings during the periods of the annual encampments.
Before the exposition building was brought to Sea Girt the Governor's Headquarters was established in the quaint farm house fronting the roadway to the ocean, known as the "Little White House." Previous to the erection of the present headquarters, this cottage was removed to a position south of the clump of trees on the knoll known as "Little Round Top" facing the parade grounds. This little cottage has become of historical interest for in it have been entertained many National, State and Foreign dignitaries.
The first camp held at Sea Girt was designated as "Camp Abbett" in honor of Governor Leon Abbett and this custom of giving the name of the presiding Chief Executive to the encampments has been adhered to.
During the season of rifle practice the various military units of the State compete for places on the rifle team to represent the State in the National Matches shot annually at Camp Perry, Ohio.
The units of the National Guard training at Sea Girt during the encampment season are the following: Major General and Staff, 44th Division (Headquarters, Newark); Brig -General and Staff, 57th Infantry Brigade (Headquarters, Camden); 113th Infantry (Headquarters, Newark); 114th Infantry (Headquarters, Camden); 104th Engineers (Headquarters, Englewood); 119th Medical Regiment (Headquarters, Trenton); Special Units (Headquarters, Orange); 1o2d Cavalry (Headquarters, Newark).
As there are no facilities at the State Camp Grounds, Sea Girt, for artillery practice, the 112th Field Artillery, New Jersey National Guard, takes its summer training at Pine Camp, Great Bend, New York.
1. "The State Camp Grounds," New Jersey: Life, Industries and Resources of a Great State, 1928, page 47.
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