Battery William Lytle is an abandoned reinforced concrete coastal gun battery in the present-day Fort Stark Historic Site in New Castle, New Hampshire. It was built during the Endicott Period and was originally equipped with two 3-inch M1902MI guns mounted on M1902 Pedestal mounts.
Battery William Lytle Establishment
The Endicott Period of Coastal Fortifications refers to a period of coastal defense in the United States that began in the late 19th century and continued until the early 20th century. During this time, a system of coastal defenses was built along the country’s coastline, including the construction of coastal gun batteries. This era was named after William C. Endicott, who served as the Secretary of War under President Grover Cleveland. The construction of these coastal defenses was prompted by fears of foreign invasion, particularly by European powers. The coastal gun batteries were equipped with powerful artillery and placed at strategic locations to protect major ports and harbors.
During the Endicott Period, the military analyzed the strength of the Harbor Defenses of Portsmouth, New Hampshire because of the extremely important Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Fort Stark on the southeastern tip of New Castle Island was established in 1746 and went through many changes over the decades. It was during the Endicott Period that Battery William Lytle was built on Fort Stark.
Construction of Battery William Lytle began in 1904 and it was completed the following year in 1905. The battery was acquired by the Coast Artillery and put into service on April 3, 1905. When it was established, the battery was equipped with two 3-inch M1902MI guns mounted on M1902 Pedestal mounts. These guns were constructed by the Bethlehem Steel Company in Pennsylvania. They were capable of firing projectiles about 5 miles.
This battery was a two-story coastal gun battery with guns mounted on the upper floor and magazines on the lower level. All moving of shells and powder from the magazines to the guns was done by hand. No hoists were installed at the battery. Fortunately, the shells with powder only weighed about 20 pounds each.
The name of the battery was in honor of Brigadier General William H. Lytle. He was a leader of U.S. Volunteers and died September 20, 1863. Lytle passed away of wounds received in action at Chickamauga, Georgia on September 19, 1863, during the U.S. Civil War.
The Battery During World War 1
During World War I, many coastal gun batteries in the United States were disarmed and their guns were sent overseas to aid the country’s allies. The decision to do so was made in response to urgent requests for artillery from the Allied powers, who were in desperate need of firepower to fight the war. The coastal gun batteries were deemed less critical to the defense of the United States, as the threat of a naval invasion was considered low at the time. Battery William Lytle was not affected by the distribution of guns during World War 1 or the following disarmament program which occurred after the war ended.
Disarmed & Abandoned During WW2
During World War 2, Battery William Lytle was included as part of the Harbor Defenses of Portsmouth. It operated along with some newer batteries, such as the large Battery Seaman which was built during World War 2 just a few hundred yards south. Towards the end of the war, the need for Battery William Lytle was questioned considering the harbor seemed to have ample security. The battery was declared surplus by the military in 1945. The guns and carriages were processed for salvage on October 18, 1945.
What Remains Today
For decades, Battery William Lytle has sat abandoned in New Castle. No guns or mounts remain at the structure, but it is still a fascinating building to explore. It is located in the present-day Fort Stark Historic Site which is a wonderful waterfront park that is open to the public. Battery William Lytle is the furthest battery from the parking lot. Visitors are welcome to walk all around the old military structure and also sometimes inside when the doors are open.
- Year Built: 1905
- Year Abandoned: 1945
- Original Function: Endicott Period 3-inch coastal gun battery on Fort Stark
Battery William Lytle Location
- Park: Fort Stark Historic Site
- Address: 211 Wild Rose Lane
- Town: New Castle
- State: New Hampshire
- GPS: Lat 43.0586993 Lng -70.7140643
- Parking notes: There is a parking lot for the Fort Stark State Historic Site is located at the end of Wild Rose Lane. The lot can hold about 3 dozen cars and parking is free. Battery William Lytle is located just a short walk from the parking lot.
- Parking directions: HERE
- Location directions: HERE