Battery Alexander Hays is an abandoned reinforced concrete coastal gun battery in the present-day Fort Stark Historic Site in New Castle, New Hampshire. It was built during the Endicott Period and was originally equipped with two 3-inch M1902MI guns mounted on M1902 Pedestal mounts.
Battery Alexander Hays Establishment
The Endicott Period of Coastal Fortifications refers to a period of coastal defense in the United States that began in the late 19th century and continued until the early 20th century. During this time, a system of coastal defenses was built along the country’s coastline, including the construction of coastal gun batteries. This era was named after William C. Endicott, who served as the Secretary of War under President Grover Cleveland. The construction of these coastal defenses was prompted by fears of foreign invasion, particularly by European powers. The coastal gun batteries were equipped with powerful artillery and placed at strategic locations to protect major ports and harbors.
During the Endicott Period, the military analyzed the strength of the Harbor Defenses of Portsmouth, New Hampshire because of the extremely important Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Fort Stark on the southeastern tip of New Castle Island was established in 1746 and went through many changes over the decades. It was during the Endicott Period that Battery Alexander Hays was built on Fort Stark.
Construction of Battery Alexander Hays began in 1904 and it was completed the following year in 1905. The Coast Artillery acquired the structure and put it into service on April 3, 1905. When in use, the battery was 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. They were capable of shooting projectiles about 5 miles.
It was a two-story coastal gun battery with guns mounted on the upper floor and magazines on the lower level. All moving of shells and powder from the magazines to the guns was done by hand. No hoists were installed at the battery.
The name of the battery was in honor of Brevet Major General Alexander Hays. Hays was a leader of the U.S. Volunteers. He was killed in action on May 5, 1864, at the Wilderness, Virginia during the U.S. Civil War.
The Battery During World War 1
During World War I, many coastal gun batteries in the United States were disarmed and their guns were sent overseas to aid the country’s allies. The decision to do so was made in response to urgent requests for artillery from the Allied powers, who were in desperate need of firepower to fight the war. The coastal gun batteries were deemed less critical to the defense of the United States, as the threat of a naval invasion was considered low at the time. Battery Alexander Hays was not affected by the distribution of guns during World War 1 or the following disarmament program which occurred after the war ended.
Disarmed & Abandoned During WW2
During World War 2, Battery Alexander Hays was not included as part of the Harbor Defenses of Portsmouth. Its guns were rather outdated and newer batteries were established in the area, such as the powerful Battery Seaman just a feet hundred yards to the south. During World War 2, the guns and mounts at Battery Alexander Hays were removed and sent to nearby Fort Constitution. They were then shipped out to Battery Hackleman at Fort H.G. Wright in North Hill, New York. This all occurred in 1942. The gun was decommissioned and abandoned following the removal of the guns and mounts.
What Remains Today
For decades, Battery Alexander Hays has sat abandoned in New Castle. No guns or mounts remain at the structure, but it is still a fascinating building to explore. It is located in the present-day Fort Stark Historic Site which is a wonderful waterfront park that is open to the public. Battery Hays is the closest battery to the parking lot. Visitors are welcome to walk all around the old military structure and also sometimes inside when the doors are open.
- Year Established: 1905
- Year Abandoned: 1942
- Original Function: Endicott Period 3-inch coastal gun battery on Fort Stark
Battery Alexander Hays Location
- Park: Fort Stark Historic Site
- Address: 211 Wild Rose Lane
- Town: New Castle
- State: New Hampshire
- GPS: 43.0580771,-70.7127843
- Parking notes: There is a parking lot for the Fort Stark State Historic Site is located at the end of Wild Rose Lane. The lot can hold about 3 dozen cars and parking is free. Battery Alexander Hays is located just a short walk from the parking lot.
- Parking directions: HERE
- Location directions: HERE