Battery Wheaton is an abandoned Endicott Period concrete coastal gun battery in present-day Fort Wetherill State Park in Jamestown, Rhode Island. It was constructed in 1904 and originally equipped with two 12-inch M1900 guns mounted on M1901 Disappearing carriages.
Battery Wheaton 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 country examined the Harbor Defenses of Narragansett Bay and made several 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 Wheaton.
Construction of Battery Wheaton began in March 1903 and it was finished in July 1904. The Coast Artillery accepted the battery and put it into service on May 7, 1908. This was a two-story coastal gun battery. Two guns were mounted on the upper level, they were 12-inch M1900 guns mounted on M1901 Disappearing carriages. The lower level of the battery was made up of two magazines that held shells. Two back delivery Taylor-Raymond electric shell hoists were used to transfer shells from the magazine level to the gun loading platform.
This battery was named after Major General Frank Wheaton of the 2nd U.S. Infantry, who served with distinction during the United States Civil War.
The battery 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, most never made it to Europe. The 1920 disarmament initiative or the subsequent redistribution following World War I had little impact on Battery Wheaton.
Disarmed after World War 2
Following the completion of the 1940 Modernization Program, Battery Wheaton was to be shut down. The battery had been approved to be excluded from the basic project as of February 1st, 1945, and no tactical priority number had been assigned. It took until February 18th, 1946 to prepare the weapons and carriages for salvage. Ultimately, after the guns and carriages were removed in 1946, the battery was abandoned.
What Remains Today
Today, the battery is located in Fort Wetherill State Park which opened to the public in 1972. It is the second westernmost gun battery at the state park, which consists of 7 total coastal gun batteries. Visitors are welcome to walk on top of the Battery Wheaton 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 mainly covered in graffiti.
Fort Wetherill was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 16, 1972, and this listing includes Battery Wheaton.
- Year Built: 1904
- Year Abandoned: 1946
- Original Function: Endicott Period coastal gun battery equipped with two 12-inch M1900 guns mounted on M1901 Disappearing carriages
- National Register of Historic Places: #72000021
Battery Wheaton Location
- Address: Fort Wetherill Road
- Town: Jamestown
- State: Rhode Island
- GPS: 41.478389, -71.367333
- Parking Notes: Fort Wetherill has ample parking. There are several parking areas and hundreds of spots. The first parking lot is closest to Battery Wheaton. Entrance to the park is free year-round.
- Parking Directions: HERE
- Location Directions: HERE