Battery Gardner is an abandoned coastal gun battery located on Fort Ruckman in Nahant, Massachusetts.
Battery Gardner Establishment
Fort Ruckman, originally called the Nahant Military Reservation, was established in 1902 during the Endicott Period. The Endicott Period was a significant time of military expansion in the United States. During this era, the US sought to increase its coastal defense systems and this led to the founding of Fort Ruckman. This fort was essential for boosting the Harbor Defenses of Boston. Fort Ruckman was built on the southwest side of the Nahant peninsula and encompassed 45 acres. Over the years, it consisted of a fire control tower, Nike target tracking radar, and Battery Gardner.
Construction of Battery Gardner began in 1918 after the government was able to allocate $365,000 for the project. Work on the battery started during World War 1, but the war ended up stopping before the battery was completed. Once completed, the large gun battery was put into service. It was equipped with two 12-inch 1895MI-A4 guns mounted on M1917-A2 Barbette carriages. These guns were manufactured at the Watervliet Arsenal in New York and they had a range of over 16 miles.
The battery featured a common magazine and support structure that was covered with earth to blend into the surrounding terrain. This area features storage rooms for shells, storage rooms for gunpowder, plotting rooms, a power plant, bathrooms, and a few other miscellaneous rooms. On either side of the magazine were the two guns and mounts. The guns were centered in the middle of circular concrete pads with sunken gun pits. In order to move shells and powder to the guns, shot carts were used. There were no electric hoists installed.
The battery was named after Major Augustus P. Gardner who was a former member of Congress from Massachusetts. He died at Camp Wheeler, Georgia on January 14, 1918, while serving with the 121st Infantry.
Battery Gardner During WW2
During World War 2, Battery Gardner remained in operation. It was one of several gun batteries that made up the Harbor Defenses of Boston during the war. Not much was changed at the battery during the war, but some casemates were installed over both of the guns. They were casemated in order to provide overhead protection for the guns and crews. After World War 2 ended in September of 1945, Battery Gardner was declared surplus. Orders were eventually sent for the guns and mounts to be salvaged. After the guns and mounts were removed in 1946, the structure was abandoned.
What Remains Today
Some remains of the old Battery Gardner can be viewed today. The land surrounding the battery was developed into Bailey’s Hill City Park which is a public oceanfront park complete with an open field, short trail system, pavilion, and plenty of benches. Battery Gardner can be found along the eastern border of the park. Much of the structure was originally covered by earth and more dirt was added to cover up the structure over the years.
Today, the casemates which stretched out above the guns can still be seen along with a few concrete vents atop the battery. Fortunately, there are trails that allow visitors to walk up to each gun casemate and also along the top of the battery. Additionally, there is an entrance into the battery which can be found on the backside of the hill. The entrance is mostly original, but a modern door was added because the town does store some things inside the old structure. It is cool to see the words “Augustus P. Gardner” engraved above the doorway.
- Year Established: 1918
- Year Abandoned: 1945
- Original Function: Coastal gun battery built during World War 1 and used during World War 2
Battery Gardner Location
- Address: Willow Road
- Town: Nahant
- State: Massachusetts
- GPS: 42.420554, -70.930334
- Parking Notes: Parking is available at the very end of Willow Road in Nahant. The northern gun casemate can be seen right in front of the parking area. Parking is free.
- Parking Directions: HERE
- Location Directions: HERE