Battery Gatson is an abandoned reinforced concrete coastal gun battery that was built during the Endicott Period. The battery is located in present-day Fort Taber Park in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
Battery Gatson Establishment
Masonry forts and smoothbore cannons were rendered obsolete by improvements in weapons made during the Civil War. In order to create a contemporary defense system, the US government established 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.
The government examined the New Bedford Harbor Defenses during the Endicott Period and made a number of recommendations for upgrades. The Army officially named 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 Gatson was one of the numerous coastal gun batteries built on this military reservation.
Construction on Battery Gatson began in the year 1900 and on December 29, 1902, the structure was complete. It was immediately transferred to the Coast Artillery for use. When it went into service, the battery was equipped with two 3-inch M1898 guns mounted on M1898MI Masking parapet carriages. This battery had two levels, with the magazines down below and the weapons up top. Shells were manually transferred from the rifle loading platform to the magazine level. There were no shell or powder hoists available.
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. The redistribution of weapons after World War I had no effect on the guns of Battery Gaston, but the subsequent disarmament effort in 1920 led to the battery’s deactivation. On July 15, 1920, the weapons were returned to Watervliet Arsenal, and on 26 May 1920, the mounts were ordered to be dismantled.
Fort Rodman, which includes Battery Gatson, 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.
What Remains Today
Today, the concrete core of Battery Gatson 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.
- Year Established: 1902
- Year Abandoned: 1920
- Original Function: Reinforced concrete, Endicott Period coastal gun battery equipped with two 3-inch M1898 guns
- National Register of Historic Places Number: #73001954
Battery Gatson Location
- Address: 1000 Rodney French Boulevard
- Town: New Bedford
- State: Massachusetts
- GPS: 41.593564, -70.900972
- Parking Notes: There are many good-sized parking lots at Fort Taber Park. Many spots can be found just a few hundred feet from the battery. There is no parking fee during the off-season. During the summer, a small fee is charged. Parking is $5/day for New Bedford residents and $10/day for non-residents.
- Parking Directions: HERE
- Location Directions: HERE