New Castle, New Hampshire

Battery Alexander Hays, nestled within the Fort Stark State Historic Site in New Castle, New Hampshire, stands as a testament to Endicott Period of Defense.

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Tom Riley (GoXplr Account)

About This Location

Battery Alexander Hays: A Relic of Coastal Defense

Battery Alexander Hays, nestled within the Fort Stark State Historic Site in New Castle, New Hampshire, stands as a testament to the era of coastal defense known as the Endicott Period. This abandoned reinforced concrete coastal gun battery offers a glimpse into a pivotal period of U.S. history when coastal fortifications were constructed to safeguard vital ports and harbors.

Establishment During the Endicott Period

The Endicott Period of Coastal Fortifications, spanning the late 19th and early 20th centuries, witnessed the construction of a comprehensive system of coastal defenses along the U.S. coastline. These defenses, including coastal gun batteries, were established in response to concerns about potential foreign invasion, particularly by European powers. Named after Secretary of War William C. Endicott, this era laid the foundation for a network of strategic coastal fortifications.

Fort Stark, originally established in 1746, underwent significant changes during this period. It was during the Endicott Period that Battery Alexander Hays was constructed on Fort Stark. This coastal gun battery's construction began in 1904 and was completed in 1905.

Armament and Features

Battery Alexander Hays was initially equipped with two 3-inch M1902MI guns mounted on M1902 Pedestal mounts. These guns and mounts were produced by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, headquartered in Pennsylvania. Capable of firing projectiles up to 5 miles, these guns played a crucial role in coastal defense.

The battery featured a two-story design, with the upper level housing the guns and the lower floor containing magazines for shells and powder, along with rooms for personnel. It's noteworthy that all movement of shells and powder from the magazines to the guns was done manually, as no hoists were installed. The projectiles used in these guns weighed approximately 20 pounds each.

Battery Alexander Hays was named in honor of Brevet Major General Alexander Hays, a leader of the U.S. Volunteers during the U.S. Civil War. He tragically lost his life in action on May 5, 1864, at the Wilderness, Virginia.

Battery Alexander Hays During World War I

While many coastal gun batteries in the United States were disarmed during World War I, with their guns sent overseas to support the Allies, Battery Alexander Hays remained intact. This preservation reflected its continued significance during a time when the threat of a naval invasion was considered low.

Disarmament and Abandonment During World War II

During World War II, Battery Alexander Hays was not included as part of the Harbor Defenses of Portsmouth. Its guns were deemed outdated, and newer batteries were established in the area, such as Battery Seaman located just a few hundred yards to the south. In 1942, the guns and mounts of Battery Alexander Hays were removed and relocated to nearby Fort Constitution. From there, they were shipped to Battery Hackleman at Fort H.G. Wright in North Hill, New York. This marked the decommissioning and abandonment of the battery.

Battery Alexander Hays Today

Today, Battery Alexander Hays stands as a historic structure within the Fort Stark State Historic Site. While the guns and mounts have long been removed, the battery continues to captivate visitors with its historical significance. Located closest to the parking lot, Battery Hays is easily accessible for exploration.

The Fort Stark Historic Site is a scenic waterfront park open to the public from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., offering free parking. Visitors are welcome to walk around the old military structure and occasionally explore its interior when doors are open.

The site also hosts a small museum featuring military artifacts and information about the 22nd Coastal Artillery, which was headquartered at Fort Stark during World War II. The Ordnance Machine Shop Museum and Visitor Center are open to the public on Saturdays from Memorial Day to Labor Day, or by appointment. The area boasts walking trails with informative guides, a small beach, and kayak access to the ocean and Little Harbor. However, please note that there are no restrooms on-site, and pets are not permitted in the park. Donations to support the preservation of the site are welcomed, ensuring that Battery Alexander Hays continues to serve as a window into America's coastal defense legacy.

Location Features

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211 Wild Rose Lane, New Castle, New Hampshire

GPS Coordinates:
43.058361, -70.712806
Directions to location:
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Directions to parking area:
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Parking Notes:
There is a parking lot for the Fort Stark State Historic Site is located at the end of Wild Rose Lane in New Castle. The lot can hold about 3 dozen cars and the gates are open from 10am-6pm daily. Parking is free. Battery Alexander Hays is located just a short walk from the parking lot.


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