Battery Reilly is a reinforced concrete coastal gun battery located on Fort Adams in Newport, Rhode Island. The battery was built during the Endicott Period when the United States sought to increase its coastal defenses in case of a potential attack. Newport Harbor was a key place to protect, hence the establishment of Battery Reilly. Construction on this coastal gun battery began in April of 1898 and it was completed in September of 1899. The Coast Artillery acquired the battery and put it into service on June 15, 1899.
This was a pretty standard dual gun battery with two stories. On the upper level of the building was where the two guns were mounted. Battery Reilly was equipped with two 10-inch M1888MII guns mounted on M1896 Disappearing carriages. These guns were capable of firing a 320 pound projectile over 6 miles. On the lower level of the battery was where the magazines were located. These magazines held shells and powder. In order to move the heavy shells and powder up to the guns, two Taylor-Raymond front delivery shell hoists were installed.
Battery Reilly was named to honor Captain Henry J. Reilly. Reilly served as part of the 5th U.S. Artillery and was stationed at Fort Adams from July 4, 1870 to April 27, 1875. Reilly was killed at Pekin, China on August 15, 1900.
Battery Reilly Abandoned During World War 1
When World War 1 began, the United States quickly scrambled to held its overseas allies in all possible ways. One impactful action was to remove guns from U.S. coastal gun batteries and ship these overseas. Orders for the two guns at Battery Reilly to be shipped abroad were received on August 24, 1917. After this order came in, the guns were removed and prepped to be shipped. In 1918, the guns were awaiting shipment at a nearby dock.
Plans later changed as shipping to Europe was delayed. Instead, the two 10-inch M1888MII guns were transferred to Fort Warren on Georges Island at the entrance to the Boston Harbor in Massachusetts. One of the mounts at the original battery was scrapped on May 26, 1920 and the other was stored until September 22, 1931 when it was ordered scrapped. Battery Reilly was never rearmed, so it was officially decommissioned and abandoned after 1920.
What Remains Today?
Today, the old coastal gun battery can be found on the western coast of Fort Adams State Park. It is just a few feet from Lincoln Drive. Sadly, the battery is completely overgrown and fenced off, so it is hard to get a good view of the battery. That said, there are sometimes openings in the fence which can allow visitors to get battery views. Of course, always watch out for any “no trespassing” signs. This is not a safe structure to explore as it is not maintained. Much of the basement level is flooded.
It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of Fort Adams State Park.
- Year Established: 1899
- Year Abandoned: 1920
- Original Function: Endicott Period coastal gun battery equipped with two 10-inch M1888MII guns
- National Register of Historic Places: #70000014