Battery Dickenson 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 6-inch M1900 guns mounted on M1900 Barbette carriages.
Battery Dickenson 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 Dickenson.
Construction of Battery Dickenson began in July 1901 and it was completed a year later in July 1902. It was transferred to the Coast Artillery and put into service on May 7, 1908. This battery was equipped with two 6-inch M1900 guns which sat on M1900 Barbette carriages. There were two levels to this battery. The lower level consisted of two magazines where shells were stored. The upper level was where the guns were mounted and pointed out toward the ocean. In order to move shells from the lower level to the upper level, two Hodges electric shell hoists were utilized. These hoists were powered by the power plant at the neighboring Battery Wheaton.
This Endicott Period coastal gun battery was named after 1st Lieutenant George Dickenson of the 4th U.S. Artillery. Dickenson was killed on December 13, 1862, during the U.S. Civil War. He died at the battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia.
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 Dickenson was not affected by World War 1, its guns remained and were never shipped off.
During World War 2, Battery Dickenson was once again not impacted. Following the end of World War 2, the battery was declared excess. Its guns and mounts were removed in 1947.
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 Dickenson and also within it. 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 Dickenson.
- Year Built: 1903
- Year Abandoned: 1947
- Original Function: Endicott Period coastal gun battery equipped with with two 6-inch M1900 guns mounted on M1900 Barbette carriages
- National Register of Historic Places: #72000021
Battery Dickenson Location
- Address: Fort Wetherill Road
- Town: Jamestown
- State: Rhode Island
- GPS: 41.478528, -71.365418
- Parking Notes: Fort Wetherill has ample parking. There are several parking areas and hundreds of spots. The first parking lot is closest to Battery Dickenson. Entrance to the park is free year-round.
- Parking Directions: HERE
- Location Directions: HERE