Battery Whiting

Jamestown, Rhode Island
Battery Whiting is an abandoned gun battery that operated from 1903 to 1942. It now stands within Fort Getty Park in Jamestown, Rhode Island.
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Nestled within the picturesque landscape of Fort Getty Park in Jamestown, Rhode Island, Battery Whiting stands as a silent sentinel of a bygone era. This coastal gun battery, dating back to the Endicott Period, was established in 1903 to protect the West Passage of Narragansett Bay as part of the larger Coast Defenses of Narragansett Bay. The fortification of Fort Getty and the construction of Battery Whiting were pivotal components of the nation’s comprehensive coastal defense strategy.

Fort Getty and the Endicott Period: A Vision of Coastal Defense

The foundations of Fort Getty can be traced back to the visionary endeavors of the Endicott Period. In 1885, President Grover Cleveland appointed the Board of Fortifications, comprising military, naval, and civilian experts, under the leadership of Secretary of War William C. Endicott. This board was tasked with a critical mission: evaluating the state of the nation’s existing defenses. In their sobering 1886 report, the board highlighted the inadequacy of current defense systems and recommended a monumental $127 million construction program. This ambitious program encompassed the installation of modern reinforced concrete fortifications, along with large-caliber breechloading artillery and mortar batteries, at 29 strategic locations along the U.S. coastline. This marked the beginning of a large-scale modernization of coastal and harbor defenses across the United States.

Fort Getty emerged as one of these fortifications, and its construction commenced in 1901. Located in Jamestown, Rhode Island, the fort was designed to defend the West Passage of Narragansett Bay, a critical waterway. It was an integral part of the broader Coast Defenses of Narragansett Bay, later renamed Harbor Defenses in 1925. The fort was named in honor of Colonel George W. Getty, a distinguished military figure who had served in the Mexican–American War and the American Civil War.

Battery Whiting: A Swift Construction and Purposeful Design

Battery Whiting, a concrete coastal gun battery, was one of the key installations built at Fort Getty during the Endicott Period. Construction on this significant coastal defense battery commenced in January 1903 and was completed by September of the same year. It was relatively swift due to its smaller size and straightforward design. On June 7, 1910, Battery Whiting was formally commissioned into service by the Coast Artillery.

When active, Battery Whiting was equipped with two 3-inch M1903 guns mounted on M1903 Barbette carriages. These guns had the impressive capability of launching 15-pound projectiles at targets located nearly 10 miles away. The battery consisted of two stories, with the upper-level housing the guns and the magazines and support rooms situated on the lower level. Unlike some contemporaneous installations, Battery Whiting did not have powder or shell hoists, making it necessary for all powder and shells to be loaded into the guns by hand. The battery received electrical power from the emplacement power plant located at nearby Battery Tousard.

Battery Whiting During World War I and II

The entry of the United States into World War I ushered in a period of widespread redistribution of large-caliber coastal defense gun tubes for service in Europe. Many guns and mortar tubes were removed from their emplacements, with plans to mount them on mobile carriages, both wheeled and railroad. In the case of Battery Whiting, however, it remained unaffected by the World War I redistribution and the subsequent disarmament program in 1920.

In 1922, a concrete Coincidence Range Finder (C.R.F.) station was constructed 40 feet southeast of gun emplacement #1 to house a 9′ Barr & Stroud coincident rangefinder specifically for Battery Whiting. This C.R.F. station was officially accepted for service on August 8, 1922, enhancing the battery’s capabilities.

As World War II unfolded, the guns and carriages of Battery Whiting were transferred to Fort Burnside, Battery Whiting (2), in July 1942. After their removal, the battery was decommissioned and abandoned.

Battery Whiting Today: A Historical Legacy in Fort Getty Park

Since 1942, Battery Whiting has silently stood as a relic of its former self. By 1948, Fort Getty and most other U.S. coastal defenses had been disestablished. The grounds of Fort Getty were subsequently transformed into a public park, offering visitors an opportunity to experience the region’s rich history.

Fort Getty Park boasts a range of amenities, including a dock, campground, pavilion, beach, and restrooms. It is a popular destination during the summer months, providing visitors with picturesque views and a glimpse into the nation’s coastal defense history. While the doors of Battery Whiting remain locked and the stairways are fenced off, the battery serves as a poignant reminder of its important role in coastal defense.

Parking is readily available, with numerous parking areas within Fort Getty State Park. During the off-season, there is no parking fee. However, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, a daily parking fee of $20 per vehicle is applicable. The park operates from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. during this period. Dogs are also welcome in the park, provided they are leashed and their waste is responsibly managed, ensuring a pet-friendly historical exploration experience.

Battery Whiting, along with the larger Fort Getty, endures as a testament to the nation’s commitment to coastal defense during the Endicott Period and beyond, offering visitors a unique window into the past.


Address: 1050 Fort Getty Road, Jamestown, Rhode Island
Place GPS Coordinates: 41.487861, -71.397917
Parking GPS Coordinates: 41.487861, -71.397917
Parking Notes: There are many parking areas in Fort Getty State Park near Battery Whiting. There is no fee to park at Fort Getty State Park in the off-season. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, a $20 fee is charged for daily parking at Fort Getty Park. It is open from 7am-10pm daily.

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