Battery Crittenden is an abandoned reinforced concrete coastal gun battery in present-day Fort Wetherill State Park in Jamestown, Rhode Island. It was constructed during the Endicott Period and originally equipped with two 3-inch M1902 guns mounted on M1902 Barbette carriages.
Battery Crittenden 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 Harbor Defenses of Narragansett Bay and made a number of recommendations for improvements. The Army decided to officially establish Fort Wetherill in Jamestown, Rhode Island in the year 1900. There were dozens of structures built on Fort Wetherill including Battery Crittenden.
Construction on Battery Crittenden began in June 1901 and it was completed in July 1902. The Coast Artillery acquired the structure and put it into service on May 7, 1908. When active, the battery was equipped with two 3-inch M1902 guns mounted on M1902 Barbette carriages. It was a two-story coastal gun battery with two magazines on the lower level and two guns mounted on the upper level. In order to move shells from the magazine up to the guns, men would need to do this manually. No shell or powder hoists were installed. There is also a small fire control post on the western side of the gun battery.
The battery is named after 2nd Lieutenant John J. Crittenden of the 20th U.S. Infantry. He was killed on June 25, 1876, in action with the Sioux Indians at Little Big Horn River, Montana. The battery was named after him on May 25, 1903.
World War 1 and 2
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. Several 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, most never made it to Europe. Battery Crittenden was not effected by the redistribution of guns during World War 1 or the 1920 disarmament program.
On February 26, 1925, orders were received to remove the guns and mounts. Both M1902 guns and both M1902 Barbette carriages were dismounted and put into storage. The guns were actually replaced in April of 1925 with two M1903 guns and two M1903 carriages from Battery Belton, Fort Adams.
Throughout World War Two, Battery Chittenden was operational. Following the war, on November 18, 1945, the guns and carriages were declared necessary. They were ordered to be removed on March 14, 1946.
What Remains Today
Today, the abandoned old battery is located in Fort Wetherill State Park which opened to the public in 1972. It is one of 7 gun batteries located in the park. Visitors are welcome to walk on top of the Battery Crittenden and also within it. The fire control post is very cool to walk around in. As of 2023, many of the doors are open and stairways allow people to explore all levels. This is an abandoned structure, so it is extremely important to be careful while exploring. The battery is mostly covered in graffiti.
Fort Wetherill was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 16, 1972, and this listing includes Battery Crittenden.
- Year Built: 1902
- Year Abandoned: 1945
- Original Function: Endicott Period coastal gun battery equipped with two 3-inch M1902 guns mounted on M1902 Barbette carriages
- National Register of Historic Places: #72000021
Battery Crittenden Location
- Address: Fort Wetherill Road
- Town: Jamestown
- State: Rhode Island
- GPS: 41.478531, -71.364925
- Parking Notes: Fort Wetherill has ample parking. There are several parking areas and hundreds of spots. The first parking lot is closest to Battery Crittenden. Parking is free year-round.
- Parking Directions: HERE
- Location Directions: HERE