About This Location
Battery Rivardi is an abandoned Endicott Period concrete coastal gun battery in present-day Fort Preble Park in South Portland, Maine. It was built in 1906 and originally equipped with two 6-inch M1903 guns mounted on M1903 Disappearing carriages.
Battery Rivardi Establishment
The Civil War’s advancements in weaponry rendered smoothbore cannons and masonry forts obsolete. The United States government established the Endicott Board in 1885 to develop a contemporary defense system. Several of the Endicott system’s components were still in use in 1945 even though they were built between 1890 and 1910. This era of expansion is now referred to as the Endicott Era.
During the Endicott Period, the government had the Army examine the Harbor Defenses of Portland and made several recommendations for improvements. Portland was an important city to protect, so many different improvements were suggested. One of these was to build a modern coastal gun battery at the site of Fort Preble which would be named Battery Rivardi. Fort Preble was established in 1808 during the First System of US Defenses.
Construction of Battery Rivardi began in 1904 and it was finished in 1906. The Battery was put into service by the Coast Artillery on May 16, 1906. This was a single-story battery that featured a central magazine and gun emplacements on both sides. Shells and powder were moved and loaded into the guns by hand.
This battery was named after Major John J.U. Rivardi of the 1st U.S. Artillerists and Engineers. Rivardi served from 1795 to 1802 right when the organization was founded. In 1802, the organization was reestablished to be the Corps of Engineers and the Corps of Artillerists.
The battery during World War 1
The U.S. involvement in World War I led to the widespread relocation of large coastal defense gun tubes for deployment in Europe. Many of these gun and mortar tubes were taken to arsenals for adjustments and installation on mobile carriages, including wheeled and railroad types. However, a significant portion of these removed gun tubes never reached Europe and instead were either reinstalled or kept at the arsenals until they were required elsewhere. Battery Rivardi’s guns were dismounted for overseas service on August 24, 1917, and both were sent to Watervliet on November 27, 1917, to be modified for mobile carriages. These guns were successfully transported to France before the conclusion of the war and were returned to the United States in 1919, but not to Battery Rivardi. Consequently, Battery Rivardi remained without rearmament, and both gun tubes were later repurposed in 200 series batteries during World War II.
On May 25, 1920, both of Battery Rivardi’s carriages were ordered to be scrapped.
In 1920, an antiaircraft battery equipped with three 3-inch antiaircraft guns was established in the vicinity of Battery Rivardi. Two of these guns were positioned on the parapet of Battery Rivardi, while the third was placed behind the battery. The three circular gun blocks are still visible today. Battery Rivardi’s magazine was utilized for storing ammunition for these antiaircraft guns.
What Remains Today
Today, this coastal gun battery sits abandoned. A park was established for Fort Preble and nearby Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse. Visitors are welcome to walk around Battery Rivardi. There is a trail and stairway leading above the battery. Walking around the old gun emplacements and magazine is allowed too, but you should be careful. Battery Rivardi is not a maintained structure. No guns or guns mount remain.