Battery Barton is an abandoned reinforced concrete coastal gun battery in present-day Fort Taber Park in New Bedford, Massachusetts. It was constructed during the Endicott Period and originally equipped with one 8-inch M1888MII gun mounted on an M1896 Disappearing carriage.
Battery Barton Establishment
Masonry forts and smoothbore cannons were rendered obsolete by improvements in weapons made during the Civil War. In order to create a modern defense system, the US government launched the Endicott Board in 1885. The Endicott system was constructed between 1890 and 1910, and some of its components were still in use in 1945. Nowadays, this time period is known as the Endicott Period.
During the Endicott Period, the government examined the New Bedford Harbor Defenses and made a number of recommendations for advancements. The Army decided to officially name the base at the tip of Clark’s Point, the Fort Rodman Military Reservation. This was done in honor of Lieutenant Colonel Logan Rodman who was a New Bedford native that served in the 38th Massachusetts Infantry and died in the assault on Port Hudson, Lousiana in 1863. Battery Barton was one of the multiple coastal gun batteries built on this military reservation during the Endicott Period.
Construction of Battery Barton began in May of 1898 and it was finished in June of 1899. The Coast Artillery received the coastal gun battery on July 31, 1899. When in service, it was armed with one 8-inch M1888MII gun mounted on an M1896 Disappearing carriage. Like other batteries nearby, Battery Barton consisted of two levels. The base level was the magazine and the upper level featured the gun. Shells and powder were moved from the magazine to the upper level using a Taylor-Raymond shell hoist. The electricity needed to run the hoist was supplied by the central power plant.
The battery was named after Colonel William Barton. Barton was an officer in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. He later served as adjutant general of the Rhode Island militia.
World War 1 and World War 2
World War 1
Large caliber coastal defense gun tubes were extensively removed for use in Europe as a result of the United States’ involvement in World War I. Many of the removed cannon and mortar tubes were taken to arsenals to be modified and mounted on mobile carriages. The majority of the dismantled cannon tubes were either remounted or left at the arsenals until they were required elsewhere. Few made it to Europe. On July 18, 1918, Battery Barton’s guns were first ordered to be dismounted for deployment abroad, but later orders called for them to be remounted and kept.
World War 2
Most of the United States gun batteries had become obsolete by the start of World War 2. The War Department was forced to destroy many of them during the first significant quota-driven junk campaign in the fall of 1942. On December 15, 1942, Battery Barton was dismissed from the Harbor Defenses of New Bedford plan. On 24 March 1943, the gun was moved to the Watervliet arsenal in New York. On 15 December 1942, a salvage operation was ordered for the carriage.
What Remains Today
Today, the concrete core of Battery Barton battery remains. Visitors are welcome to admire the magazine area and the former emplacement. No guns or mounts remain. As of 2023, all doors leading into the old fort are completely sealed up.
It should be noted Fort Rodman, which includes Battery Barton, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. This was a major award and it ensures the battery will remain preserved and open to the public.
- Year Established: 1899
- Year Abandoned: 1942
- Original Function: Endicott Period coastal gun battery equipped with one 8-inch M1888MII gun mounted on an M1896 Disappearing carriage
Battery Barton Location
- Address: 1000 Rodney French Boulevard
- Town: New Bedford
- State: Massachusetts
- GPS: 41.593320, -70.906054
- Parking Notes: Many good-sized parking lots can be found at Fort Taber Park. There are multiple spots that can be found just a few hundred feet from the battery. There is no parking fee during the off-season. During the summer, a small fee is charged. Parking is $5/day for New Bedford residents and $10/day for non-residents.
- Parking Directions: HERE
- Location Directions: HERE