Battery David Hunter 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 12-inch M1895MI guns mounted on M1897 Disappearing carriages. Today, visitors are welcome to walk around and within the structure, as it is slowly being reclaimed by nature.
Battery David Hunter 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 David Hunter was built on Fort Stark.
Construction of the coastal gun battery began in 1901 and it was completed three years later in 1904. The Coast Artillery acquired the battery in 1904 and it went into service on December 31 of that year. When it was put into service, it was equipped with two 12-inch M1895MI guns mounted on M1897 Disappearing carriages. These guns were built at the Watervliet Arsenal in New York and the Bethlehem Steel Company in Pennsylvania. These guns were capable of firing 1,000+ pound projectiles 10-15 miles.
This battery was built with two floors. The upper level was where the guns were mounted. On the lower floor was where the magazines were that stored shells and powder. There were also some rooms for personal on the lower floor. In order to move the massive shells and hundreds of pounds of powder up to the guns, two Taylor-Raymond back delivery shell hoists were installed. A powerplant at the battery supplied all of the energy needed to run the hoists and the rest of the electricity needs.
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 David Hunter 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 David Hunter was included as part of the Harbor Defenses of Portsmouth. It operated along with some newer batteries, such as the large Battery Seaman which was built during World War 2 just a few hundred yards south. Towards the end of the war, the need for Battery David Hunter was questioned considering the harbor seemed to have ample security. The battery was declared surplus by the military on January 18, 1945. Both of the guns were removed on February 23, 1945, and they were shipped to the Watervliet Arsenal in New York. Additionally, the M1897 carriages were removed.
What Remains Today
For decades, Battery David Hunter has sat abandoned in New Castle, New Hampshire. No guns or mounts remain at the structure, but it is still a fascinating building to explore. Visitors can peek inside the old magazines and also admire the emplacements where the guns were once mounted. It is located in the present-day Fort Stark Historic Site which is a wonderful waterfront park that is open to the public. Battery David Hunter is just a few hundred feet from the parking area. Visitors are welcome to walk all around the old military structure and also sometimes inside when the doors are open.
- Year Construction Started: 1901
- Year Opened: 1904
- Year Abandoned: 1945
- Original Function: Endicott Period 12-inch coastal gun battery on Fort Star
Battery David Hunter Location
- Park: Fort Stark Historic Site
- Address: 211 Wild Rose Lane
- Town: New Castle
- State: New Hampshire
- GPS: Lat 43.0572834 Lng -70.7137413
- 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 David Hunter is located just a short walk from the parking lot.
- Parking Directions: HERE
- Location Directions: HERE
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