About This Location
Battery Cross 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 5-inch M1900 guns mounted on M1903 Barbette carriages.
Battery Cross 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 Cross was one of the multiple coastal gun batteries built on this military reservation during the Endicott Period.
Battery Cross was completed in 1902 and was transferred to the Coast Artillery on December 13, 1902. It was equipped with two 5-inch M1900 guns which were mounted on M1903 Barbette carriages. This battery had two levels, with the magazines down below and the weapons up top. No shell or powder hoists were available, therefore shells had to be manually transferred from the magazine level to the gun-loading platform.
The battery was named after Captain Charles E. Cross. Cross was killed at the Battle of Fredericksburg during the U.S. Civil War.
Disarmed during 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. 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. Many never made it to Europe. It appears that although the guns from Battery Cross were documented as having been evacuated for action abroad on July 18, 1918, they were actually mounted on the Army Transport Ship Kilpatrick sometime in 1917. From Boston to Europe, troops were transported using this transport ship. Records also indicated that the weapons were returned to Fort Rodman on March 15, 1919, following the war. The next year, on December 13, 1920, the carriages were ordered to be dismantled on December 13, 1920. Battery Cross’ guns were sent to the Watervliet Arsenal in New York on January 10, 1921.
Fort Rodman, which includes Battery Cross, 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. Its National Register of Historic Places Number is #73001954.
What Remains Today
Today, the concrete core of Battery Cross 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.