Battery William Lytle

New Castle, New Hampshire
The abandoned Battery William Lytle, located in the Fort Stark State Historic Site in New Castle, operated from the Endicott Period to WW2.
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About This Location

Battery William Lytle: A Coastal Defense Legacy

Battery William Lytle, located within the Fort Stark State Historic Site in New Castle, New Hampshire, stands as a testament to the era of coastal defense known as the Endicott Period. This abandoned reinforced concrete coastal gun battery offers a glimpse into a pivotal period of U.S. history when coastal fortifications were constructed to protect major ports and harbors.

Establishment During the Endicott Period

The Endicott Period of Coastal Fortifications, spanning the late 19th and early 20th centuries, witnessed the construction of a comprehensive system of coastal defenses along the U.S. coastline. These defenses, including coastal gun batteries, were established in response to concerns about potential foreign invasion, particularly by European powers. Named after Secretary of War William C. Endicott, this era laid the foundation for a network of strategic coastal fortifications.

Fort Stark, originally established in 1746, underwent significant changes during this period. It was during the Endicott Period that Battery William Lytle was constructed on Fort Stark. This coastal gun battery’s construction began in 1904 and was completed in 1905.

Armament and Features

Battery William Lytle was initially equipped with two 3-inch M1902MI guns mounted on M1902 Pedestal mounts. These guns, manufactured by the Bethlehem Steel Company in Pennsylvania, had a range of about 5 miles and played a crucial role in coastal defense.

The battery featured a two-story design, with the upper-level housing the guns and the lower floor containing magazines for shells and powder, as well as rooms for personnel. Interestingly, all the movement of shells and powder from the magazines to the guns was done manually, as no hoists were installed. The projectiles used in these guns weighed approximately 20 pounds each.

The battery’s name, “William Lytle,” honored Brigadier General William H. Lytle, a leader of U.S. Volunteers who died on September 20, 1863, from wounds sustained during the U.S. Civil War at Chickamauga, Georgia.

Battery William Lytle During World War I

World War I witnessed the disarmament of many coastal gun batteries in the United States, as their guns were sent overseas to support the Allied powers. However, Battery William Lytle remained untouched by this disarmament program, reflecting its continued importance during this period.

Disarmament and Abandonment During World War II

By World War II, the need for Battery William Lytle was reevaluated, given the perceived security of the harbor. In 1945, the military declared the battery surplus, marking the beginning of its abandonment. On October 18, 1945, the guns and carriages were salvaged. There were new batteries in the area like Battery Seaman and Battery 204 which were more modern and could take care of securing Portsmouth.

Battery William Lytle Today

While the guns and mounts of Battery William Lytle are no longer present, the abandoned structure continues to intrigue visitors. Explorers are welcome to venture inside the historic building and ascend its stairways. Of course, caution is advised because the structure is not maintained.

The battery is located within the Fort Stark State Historic Site, a scenic waterfront park that is open to the public. Battery William Lytle is approximately a 5-minute walk from the parking area at the end of Wild Rose Lane. Visitors can freely explore the military structure and occasionally enter when doors are open.

The Fort Stark Historic Site also houses a small museum featuring military artifacts and information about the 22nd Coastal Artillery, which was headquartered at Fort Stark during World War II. The Ordnance Machine Shop Museum and Visitor Center are open to the public on Saturdays from Memorial Day to Labor Day, or by appointment. The area offers walking trails with informative guides, a small beach, and kayak access to the ocean and Little Harbor. However, please note that there are no restrooms, and pets are not permitted in the park. While parking is free, donations to support the site’s preservation are welcome.

Battery William Lytle serves as a poignant reminder of the nation’s commitment to coastal defense during a transformative period in its history. Visitors can connect with this legacy while exploring the Fort Stark State Historic Site.

Location

Address: 211 Wild Rose Lane, New Castle, New Hampshire
Place GPS Coordinates: 43.056806, -70.713500
Parking GPS Coordinates: 43.056806, -70.713500
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.

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