Battery Craig 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 two 3-inch M1898 guns mounted on M1898MI Masking parapet carriages.
Battery Craig Establishment
Masonry forts and smoothbore cannons were rendered obsolete by advancements in weapons made during the Civil War. In order to create a contemporary defense system, the US government launched the Endicott Board in 1885. The Endicott system was built 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 reviewed the New Bedford Harbor Defenses and made many recommendations for improvements. Also during this time, the Army decided to officially name the base at the tip of Clark’s Point, the Fort Rodman Military Reservation. This happened in honor of Lieutenant Colonel Logan Rodman who was a New Bedford resident that served in the 38th Massachusetts Infantry and passed in the assault on Port Hudson, Lousiana in 1863. Battery Craig was one of the multiple coastal gun batteries built on this military reservation during the Endicott Period.
Battery Craig was transferred to the Coast Artillery in 1902 and it officially went into service on December 29, 1902. This coastal gun batter features two stories. The lower level held the magazine and the upper level held the guns. No shell or powder hoists were installed, so shells and powder would have to be moved from the magazine to the guns by hand.
The battery was named after 2nd Lituentant Presley O. Craig. He was part of the 2nd U.S. Artillery and was killed on July 21, 1861, at the Battle of the Bull Run in Virginia. This battle occurred during the U.S. Civil War. This name dedication occurred on May 25, 1903.
Disarmed After 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. The redistribution of weapons after World War I had no effect on the guns of Battery Craig, but the subsequent disarmament effort in 1920 led to the battery’s deactivation. On July 15, 1920, the weapons were returned to Watervliet Arsenal, and on May 26, 1920, the mounts were ordered to be dismantled.
Brief Armament During World War 2
During World War 2, the Army decided to mount an anti-aircraft gun at Battery Craig. A 3-inch anti-aircraft gun was mounted at gun emplacement #1. Following the war, the gun was removed.
What Remains Today
Fort Rodman, which includes Battery Craig, 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.
Today, the concrete core of Battery Craig 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.
- Year Established: 1902
- Year Abandoned: 1920
- Original Function: Endicott Period coastal gun battery that was equipped with two 3-inch M1898 guns mounted on M1898MI Masking parapet carriages
Battery Craig Location
- Address: 1000 Rodney French Boulevard
- Town: New Bedford
- State: Massachusetts
- GPS: 41.593218, -70.904964
- Parking Notes: Many large parking lots can be found at Fort Taber Park. Visitors can park and then walk along a paved path to the old 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