On March 5, students from the Teva Pharmaceuticals Internship and Karabots Junior Fellows Program took a field trip out of Philadelphia proper to visit historic Fort Mifflin. Fort Mifflin was commissioned in 1771 as a coastal defense Fort to protect Philadelphia from invaders and pirates. During its 183 years as an active military base, it was the site of the largest bombardment of the Revolutionary War (November 10-15, 1777), rebuilt as part of America’s first coastal defense system (the First and Second American Systems), served as a Union Army prison during the Civil War, and acted as an ammunition depot for the United States Navy during the First and Second World Wars. Today it serves as a historic site and museum.
The students visited the Fort to attend an event commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Verdun (Feb-Dec 1916), a crucial battle during World War I. Students got the chance to interact with reenactors from both the Allies and Central Powers to learn about the history of the Battle, the equipment soldiers carried and the human toll of the Battle, which left roughly 300,000 dead and 750,000 wounded. While at the Fort, they also explored the site, which includes underground shelters, historic ammunition magazines, and a long-buried Civil War prison cell that once held a Union prisoner who was later executed at the Fort. They even got to witness the firing of a Revolutionary War cannon! Braving cold and muddy conditions (they quickly learned why Fort Mifflin earned the nickname “The Mud Island”), everyone expressed excitement over the trip. After an exciting visit, they returned to the College with new-found perspective on “The Great War.”