|Artillery, Tanks and AFVs in the USA: Rhode Island
Artillery, Tanks and Armoured Fighting Vehicles in Rhode Island
Data current to 14 July 2019.
One of the aims of this website is to locate, identify and document every historical piece of artillery and all armoured fighting vehicles preserved in New England. Many contributors have assisted in the hunt for these tangible pieces of our military history and the list you see here is constantly being revised as new finds are discovered and the data is updated. The photos have come from various contributors, but the author likes to "ground truth" the reports, so a good number of the photos are by the author unless otherwise credited. Any errors found here are by the author. It often happens that military monuments that are relatively mobile, have been moved for restoration or scrapped, sometimes they are repainted with different markings and serial numbers, or they are replaced with a different piece of kit. For those reasons, any additions, deletions, corrections or amendments that you may be able to add to this list of Artillery and AFVs in New England would be most welcome and may be e-mailed to the author at email@example.com. The primary aim is preserve our military history and to keep the record accurate.
Beavertail State Park, Conanicut Island, Narragansett Bay, Fort Burnside
155-mm M1918 Gun, firing practice. (US Army Photo)
Fort Burnside was established in 1942 as part of the Harbor Defences of Narragansett Bay. By late 1943, a battery of two 6-inch guns (152-mm) and a battery of two 3-inch guns (76-mm) were established. The 6-inch battery was called Battery Construction Number (BCN) 213, with ammunition magazines in a large bunker and the guns in shielded mounts. The 3-inch battery was called Battery Whiting; the guns were relocated from Fort Getty and the battery name was retained.
(Rob Duch Photo)
A large Army-Navy Harbor Entrance Control Post, disguised as a seaside mansion, was also built and still exists.
A battery of two 16-inch guns (406-mm), similar to those at Fort Church and Fort Green and called BCN 110, was proposed for Fort Burnside but never built. With the war over, Fort Burnside's guns were scrapped in 1948. (Wikipedia)
(Elisha Hunt Photos)
Bronze 6-pounder Model 1841 smoothbore muzzle-loading Field Gun, Cyrus Alger & Company, Inspection No. 882, 1843, Boston, mounted on a concrete pedestal, No. 1 of 2. Rhode Island Soldier’s Home, Metacom Avenue, RI Route 136.
(Elish Hunt Photo)
Bronze 6-pounder Model 1841smoothbore muzzle-loading Field Gun, N.P. Ames, Inspection No. 884, 1847, Springfield, mounted on a concrete pedestal, No. 2 of 2. Rhode Island Soldier’s Home, Metacom Avenue, RI Route 136.
(The Blue Quasar Photo)
3-inch Naval Anti-aircraft Gun.
(Naval Museum of Alberta Photo)
BL 4-inch Gun Mk. IX Naval Gun, Mod 5, Serial No. 1953, No. 1 of 2, dated 1918. Rhode Island Soldier’s Home, Metacom Avenue, RI Route 136. Similar to this one mounted on an RCN Corvette.
BL 4-inch Gun Mk. IX Naval Gun, Mod 5, Serial No. 1105, No. 2 of 2, dated 1918. Rhode Island Soldier’s Home, Metacom Avenue, RI Route 136.
(Kenneth C. Zirkel Photos)
Model 1861 8-inch siege mortar, SMcM Foundry, 1037, 1865, No. 1 of 2. Rhode Island Soldiers Home Monument, North Burial Ground, Hope Street & Asylum Road.
Model 1861 8-inch siege mortar, SMcM Foundry, 1038, 1865, No. 2 of 2. Rhode Island Soldiers Home Monument, North Burial Ground, Hope Street & Asylum Road.
(Kenneth C. Zirkel Photo)
Two Stone replica Model 1861 8-inch siege mortars stand at the base of the Rhode Island Soldiers Home Monument, North Burial Ground, Hope Street & Asylum Road, on RT 114, adjacent to Colt State Park.
(Elisha Hunt Photo)
Model 1861 8-inch siege mortar, 2551, 1862, No. 1 of 2, Sullivan Ballou (Civil War) Monument in Moshassuck Cemetery.
(Wendy Walter Photo)
Model 1841 8-inch siege mortar, 2612, 1862, No. 2 of 2, Sullivan Ballou (Civil War) Monument in Moshassuck Cemetery.
Bronze 6-pounder Model 1838 smoothbore muzzle-loading Field Gun, N.P. Ames, 1838, Rolf Square Veteran's Memorial.
Bronze 6-pounder Model 1841 smoothbore muzzle-loading Field Gun, N.P. Ames, 1841, Rolf Square Veteran's Memorial.
75-mm Model 1897 Field Gun. This gun is equipped with rubber tires indicating it was modified after the First World War. No. 20106, A.BS 1918 is marked on top of the breech, and ; Right Side of Breech - Model 1897A3, No 766 Bourges 1917 is marked on the right side of the breech. Rolfe Square, corner of Park Avenue and Rolfe Street.
(Nelson Sherren Photo)
German First World War 25-cm schwerer Minenwerfer (25-cm sMW) dated 1916. Oaklawn Veterans’ Memorial. Similar to this one at St. Stephen's, Newfoundland.
The 25-cm schwerer Minenwerfer alt Art (25-cm sMW) was a heavy trench mortar used by Germany in the Great War. It was an RML Mortar that had a standard hydro-spring recoil system. It fired two sizes of shells, 97 kg (210 lb) and 50 kg (110 lb), both of which contained far more explosive filler than ordinary artillery shells of the same calibre because the low muzzle velocity allowed for thinner shell walls and hence more space for filler. In 1916 a new version, with a longer barrel, was put into production. It was called the 25-cm sMW n.A. (neuer Art) or new Pattern while the older model was termed the a.A. (alter Art) or old Pattern. The sMW’s massive shells were nearly as effective at penetrating fortifications as the largest siege guns in the German inventory, like the 42-cm Dicke Bertha or Big Bertha that weighed over 50 times as much. Consequently its numbers went from 44 in service when the war broke out to some 1,234 in 1918.
(MSG James A. Loffler Photos)
12-inch siege mortar, Serial No. 1946, previously located at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. Possibly of Spanish or French origin. Rhode Island National Guard Command Readiness Center, Reservoir Avenue. This mortar was previously on display at the Cranston Street Armory, but was removed, refurbished, and transferred to the State Headquarters in Cranston.
155-mm M114A2 Howitzer. Tube dated 1985 on muzzle face. Carriage dated 1991. The Monastery, Diamond Hill Road. Similar to this one at Minto, New Brunswick.
(Roger Davis Photos)
German First World War 17-cm Minenwerfer, (17-cm MW), Serial Nr. 3408. The Monastery, Diamond Hill Road.
German First World War 15-cm schwere Feldhaubitze 1902 (15-cm sFH 02), (Serial Nr. 544), located in a small park near Route 95. This German Howitzer is dated 1906, and marked Krupp and Essen. The crest of Kaiser Wilhelm II is engraved on top of breech. The Monastery, Diamond Hill Road.
East Greenwich, Varnum Memorial Armory
(Varnum Museum Photos)
3-inch Model 1905 Field Gun and Limber, Bethlehem Steel, 1917 with limber, inside the armory.
(Varnum Museum Photo)
Bronze 6-pounder Model 1841 smoothbore muzzle-loading Field Gun, N.P. Ames, Inspection No. unknown, 1860, with limber and caisson, inside the armory, No. 1 of 3.
Bronze 6-pounder Model 1841 smoothbore muzzle-loading Field Gun, N.P. Ames, Inspection No. unknown, 1860, with limber and caisson, inside the armory, No. 2 of 3.
Bronze 6-pounder Model 1841 smoothbore muzzle-loading Field Gun, N.P. Ames, Inspection No. unknown, 1861, with limber and caisson, inside the armory, No. 3 of 3.
(Varnum Museum Photo)
Gatling Gun M1872, 1st Rhode Island Machine Gun Battery, inside the armory, No. 1 of 2.
Gatling Gun M1872, 1st Rhode Island Machine Gun Battery, inside the armory, No. 2 of 2.
(Varnum Museum Photo)
Bronze 12-pounder Napoleon Model 1857 smoothbore muzzle-loading Gun-Howitzer, (Federal Gun with muzzle swell used in the Civil War), Varnum Continentals.
Bronze 6-pounder James Rifle, inside the Armory.
(Varnum Museum Photo)
Cast-iron 3-pounder smoothbore muzzle-loading Gun, Revolutionary War vintage, mounted on a replica iron gun carriage, No. 1 of 2 in front of the Armory.
(Varnum Museum Photo)
Cast-iron 3-pounder smoothbore muzzle-loading Gun, Revolutionary War vintage, mounted on a replica iron gun carriage, No. 2 of 2 in front of the Armory. Bore diameter 3-1/4 inches, Trunnion diameter 3-1/8 inches (measurements approximate). One cannon has a heavily worn plaque on it. Legible portions read - “The Elsha Dyer Cannon, Governor of Rhode Island 1897 - 1900, (next two lines illegible), Gift of Bryant College, Providence, RI April 14th, 1957.” Varnum Memorial Armory, Main Street, U.S. Route 1.
Bronze Coehorn mortar, No. 1 of 2 mounted muzzle down at the back of the drill floor inside the armory.
Bronze Coehorn mortar, No. 2 of 2 mounted muzzle down at the back of the drill floor inside the armory. The mortar on the south side is marked with a faded stencil reading “Ordnance Officer Watervliet Arsenal NY”. Varnum Memorial Armory, Main Street, U.S. Route 1.
(Jonathan Skaarup Photos)
3″/50 caliber gun (Mk. 22), No. 1 of 2 from the Ocean Radar Picket Ship USS Vigil (AGR 12), in front of the Legion, 1016 Main Street.
(Jonathan Skaarup Photos)
3″/50 caliber gun (Mk. 22), No. 2 of 2 from the Ocean Radar Picket Ship USS Vigil (AGR 12), in front of the Legion, 1016 Main Street.
(Christina Forbes Photo)
Bronze 6-pounder Model 1841 smoothbore muzzle-loading Field Gun, N.P. Ames, Inspection No. 887, 1857, Squantum Club.
3-inch/50 calibre Naval Gun. This gun stands in front of VFW Post 6342 on School Street.
(Elisha Hunt Photos)
Bronze possibly 6-pounder boat gun, Civil War era, mounted on a concrete stand, First Hopkinton Cemetery, Old Hopkinton Road.
Jamestown, Beavertail State Park, Conanicut Island, Narragansett Bay, Fort Getty
Fort Getty's construction began in 1901 to defend the West Passage of Narragansett Bay as part of the Coast Defenses of Narragansett Bay (renamed Harbor Defenses in 1925). The fort was named for Colonel George W. Getty, who had a distinguished career in the Mexican-American War, the American Civil War, and afterward. The fort's three gun batteries were completed by 1905 but for some reason were not accepted until 1910. They were Battery Tousard with three 12-inch M1900 guns (305-mm) on disappearing carriages, Battery House with two 6-inch M1900 guns (152-mm) on pedestal mounts, and Battery Whiting with two 3-inch M1903 guns (76-mm) on pedestal mounts.
(Coast Defense Study Group Photo)
12-inch breech-loading gun, M1895, on a M1897 disappearing carriage. The soldier in the foreground has just pulled the long firing lanyard, which can be seen stretching up to the breechlock of the gun. The gun is "in battery", raised just above the edge of the parapet of the gun position. The crew member on the catwalk at the upper left of the gun is looking through the optical telescopic gun sight. On the left in the group of crew members can be seen the talker (wearing a headset), who passes firing data from the Range Section of the battery to the man on the gun sight. The 12-inch coastal defense gun M1895 (305 mm) and its variants the M1888 and M1900 were large coastal artillery pieces installed to defend major American seaports between 1895 and 1945. For most of their history they were operated by the US Army Coast Artillery Corps. Most were installed on disappearing carriages, with early installations on low-angle barbette mountings. From 1919, 19 long-range two-gun batteries were built using the M1895 on an M1917 long-range barbette carriage. Almost all of the weapons not in the Philippines were scrapped during and after the Second World War.
Battery Tousard was named for Louis de Tousard, an engineer and artillery officer with much involvement in early American fortifications. Battery House was named for Major General James House, who commanded Fort Wolcott in Newport in 1811. Battery Whiting was named for Levi Whiting, an artillery officer in the War of 1812. Fort Getty went into caretaker status soon after completion, but was garrisoned in the First World War as a sub-post of Fort Greble.
Early in the Second World War the fort's location was largely superseded by new defenses centered on Fort Church and Fort Greene. In 1942 the 12-inch guns were scrapped, Battery House's 6-inch guns were relocated to Fort Varnum, and Battery Whiting's 3-inch guns were relocated to Fort Burnside. The fort became a prisoner-of-war camp for German prisoners. However, in 1943 a new Anti-Motor Torpedo Boat Battery, AMTB 922 with four 90-mm M1A2 anti-aircraft guns arrived. Two of the guns were on fixed mounts and two were on towed mounts. In 1948 the fort was dis-established, as were essentially all US coast defenses.
A US coast defense battery with two guns on disappearing carriages, similar to the 12-inch gun battery at Fort Getty. (US Army Coast Artillery Corps Photo)
This is a typical Endicott Period Coast Artillery battery of two guns (likely 10- or 12-inch guns) on disappearing carriages. The rightmost gun is in the raised ("in battery") position, ready to fire, while the gun on the left has been returned to its lowered position, behind the parapet, and is ready to be loaded. A shell cart is visible on the loading platform to the right of the breech of the nearest gun. Projectiles would be wheeled from the shell hoists (near the point marked "12") to the guns' breeches and rammed into the gun. The powder charge was then inserted behind the projectile, the breech was closed, and the gun was ready to fire.
Cast Iron 32-pounder 17-cwt Smoothbore Muzzleloading Carronade with a Blomefield pattern breeching ring, mounted on an iron wheeled carriage (ca. 1775 - 1815), weight corroded, Serial No. corroded. This Carronade may have come from Fort Adams. Middletown High School.
Bronze 6-pounder Model 1841 smoothbore muzzle-loading Field Gun, N.P. Ames, Inspection No. 873. 1845, Artillery Company of Newport Museum.
3-inch Ordnance Rifle, Inspection No. 139, 1862, Artillery Company of Newport Museum.
3.7-inch Navy Parrot Rifle, Artillery Company of Newport Museum.
3.8-inch James Rifle, Alger, 1864, Artillery Company of Newport Museum.
20-pounder Model 1861 Parrot Rifle, Artillery Company of Newport Museum.
(John T. Duchesneau Photo)
QF 4.7-inch Mk. IV Armstrong Gun, Serial No. 12123 on a Central Pivot Mount Mk. 1, Serial No. 10981, Equality Park, Newport. This gun is a breech-loading, rapid-fire gun, rifle, seacoast, weight 4,676-lbs, manufactured by Sir W.G. Armstrong, Whitworth & Co., Elswick, England. It was originally emplaced at Fort Adams in Battery Talbot in 1899. The gun was moved to Sachuest Point in 1917 and put on display in Equality Park in 1923.
QF 4.7-inch Mk. IV Armstrong Gun, Serial No. 12124 on a Central Pivot Mount Mk. 1, Serial No. 10982 was emplaced at Battery Talbot, Fort Adams, Rhode Island. This gun has been moved from Rhode Island to Battery Bingham, Fort Moultrie, Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, (missing its shield).
(Newport Historical Society Photos)
Cast-iron 4-pounder smoothbore muzzle-loading Gun mounted on a concrete stand. No. 1 of 2. Used on Colony Sloop Tartar in the 1740’s. Newport Historical Society, Touro Street.
Cast-iron 4-pounder smoothbore muzzle-loading Gun mounted on a concrete stand. No. 2 of 2. Used on Colony Sloop Tartar in the 1740’s. Newport Historical Society, Touro Street. In order to address hostilities during the time of King George’s War, the Rhode Island General Assembly voted to build a sloop in 1740. She was 115 tons and cost £ 8,679, and was named the Tartar, after the HMS Tartar which visited from England in 1737. Rhode Island’s new Sloop of War had a distinguished and well documented career, particularly at the Battle of Louisbourg in 1744-1745. Sadly, the Tartar was decommissioned in 1748 and her inventory was sold on Goat Island at public auction. The unclaimed items were stored at Fort George for many years. Eventually, two of her twelve guns were recovered and used as traffic control bollards at the foot of Washington Square. In 1934 the Newport Historical Society arranged to rescue the guns and mounted them on the lawn of the Touro Street headquarters, where they can be seen today. (Newport Historical Society)
Newport, Goat Island, Fort Wolcott
Fort Wolcott was a fortification on Goat Island less than one mile west of the city of Newport. The attacks on the HMS St John and HMS Liberty occurred near the fort. An earthen Fort Anne was built on Goat Island in 1702 or 1703 during the War of the Spanish Succession, taking the name of Anne, Queen of Great Britain. The fort was armed with 12 guns and survived until 1724.
In 1730, the fort returned to service under a new name, Fort George after King George II of Great Britain. In 1738, defenders of Rhode Island built a stone fortification on the site with perhaps fifty guns. In 1764, residents of Newport, Rhode Island, took over Fort George and fired shots at the St John with a crew that allegedly stole from local merchants. In another early act of rebellion against British rule, Rhode Islanders in 1769 burned the British customs ship Liberty when it drifted to the north end of Goat Island.
Newport, Goat Island, Fort Wolcott, plaque.
With the outbreak of the American Revolution in 1775, the fort was renamed as Fort Liberty. In 1776, American patriots armed Fort Liberty with 25 guns and built various breastworks to defend the City of Newport. In December 1776 the British army occupied Newport without resistance and renamed it "Fort George." The British left Newport in November 1779. The French army under Count de Rochambeau occupied Newport in 1780 and used the fort as part of their defenses until their departure in 1781.
In 1784, Rhode Islanders repaired the fort, renamed it Fort Washington after General George Washington, and armed it with 28 guns. In 1794, the City of Newport sold Goat Island to the federal government for $1,500 to maintain a fort to defend Newport Harbor. Control of Fort Washington passed from the Rhode Island state militia to United States Army artillery and engineering companies. The Army rebuilt Fort Washington and outfitted it with 38 guns. The first United States Army officer to command the fort was Captain William Littefield, a native of Newport who had served during the American Revolution. Captain Littlefield assumed his duties in either June or July 1794 which marked the beginning of a presence of the United States Armed Forces in Newport which continues to this day. (Only West Point, New York can claim a longer continuous presence of the US Armed Forces.)
The Army rebuilt the fort again in 1798 as part of the first system of Seacoast defences of the USA and renamed it Fort Wolcott, commemorating the services of the late Oliver Wolcott, a general of the Connecticut militia, a member of the Continental Congress and a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
The Army assigned Captain John Henry, who was instrumental in starting the War of 1812, to Fort Wolcott in the late 1790s. From 1798 to 1800, the American government rebuilt the earthworks of the fort. After 1802 Fort Wolcott was the primary fort defending Newport harbor along with the smaller Fort Adams which was activated in 1799. The Army repaired Fort Wolcott in 1808. Secretary of War William Eustic on 19 December 1809 (American State Papers, Volume 016, page 245.) records 12 guns mounted within Fort Wolcott and 18 more guns mounted on the flank batteries to the north and south of the fort. The Secretary of War's report on fortifications for December 1811 describes Fort Wolcott as "a small enclosed work, with open batteries, extending from two opposite flanks, of stone, earth, sods, &c. mounting thirty-eight heavy guns... The barracks are of bricks and wood, for one company...".
By the time of the War of 1812, Fort Wolcott along with Fort Adams, Fort Greene (in the Point Section of Newport), Fort Hamilton, North Battery, Fort Dumpling, and Tonomy Hill defended Newport harbor and strategically important Narragansett Bay. Fort Wolcott, built of stone cemented with lime, featured a brick-and-stone magazine, sally-port, ditch, furnace, and bomb-proof brick barracks. Armament included five long range 32-pounder guns. By 1818, Fort Wolcott featured 28 guns. After 1821, Fort Wolcott absorbed troops from the other forts in Rhode Island and hosted the only continuous army garrison in the state. The Army transferred the garrison from Fort Wolcott on 22 May 1836 to fight in the First Seminole War. This left Rhode Island without an active coast defense fort until the opening of the new Fort Adams in 1841.
In 1869, the Navy founded a United States Naval Torpedo Station on the site of the former Fort Wolcott. This naval facility greatly expanded during the succeeding century, and the Navy Torpedo Factory on Goat Island produced many torpedoes for the Navy through the First World War and the Second World War. The Navy nevertheless closed the torpedo station in 1951 and created Naval Undersea Warfare Center at the nearby Newport Navy base. (Wikipedia)
Newport, Naval War College
(Jonathan Skaarup Photo)
Bronze 24-pounder Dahlgren boat howitzer, 299, 1862, mounted near flag pole, No. 1 of 2.
Bronze 24-pounder Dahlgren boat howitzer, 300, 1862, mounted near flag pole, No. 2 of 2.
(Jonathan Skaarup Photos)
Naval Gun, mounted in front of the main parade square, No. 1 of 2.
(Jonathan Skaarup Photo)
Naval Gun, mounted in front of the main parade square, No. 2 of 2.
Newport, Fort Adams
Aerial view of Fort Adams, 1 Jan 1968. (USN Photo)
(John Stanton Photo)
Aerial view of Fort Adams, Newport, Rhode Island.
Fort Adams is a former United States Army post in Newport, established on 4 July 1799 as a First System coastal fortification, and named for then-incumbent President John Adams. Its first commander was Captain John Henry, who was later instrumental in starting the War of 1812. The current Fort Adams was built 1824–1857 under the Third System of coastal forts. Today, the fort is part of Fort Adams State Park.
The first Fort Adams was designed by Major Louis de Tousard of the Army Corps of Engineers. After some additions in 1809, this fort mounted 17 guns and was garrisoned during the War of 1812 by Wood's State Corps of Rhode Island militiamen. The Secretary of War's report for December 1811 describes the fort as "an irregular star fort of masonry, with an irregular indented work of masonry adjoining it, mounting seventeen heavy guns. ... The barracks are of wood and bricks, for one company".
After the War of 1812, there was a thorough review of the nation's fortification needs and it was decided to replace the older Fort Adams with a newer and much larger fort. The new fort was designed by Brigadier General Simon Bernard, a Frenchman who had served as a military engineer under Napoleon. Bernard designed the new Fort Adams in the classic style and it became the most complex fortification in the Western Hemisphere. It included a tenaille and crownwork, a complex outer work on the southern (landward) side, designed to break up and channel an assault force. Construction of the new fort began in 1824 and continued at irregular intervals until 1857. From 1825 to 1838 construction was overseen by Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Gilbert Totten, the foremost American military engineer of his day. In 1838 Totten became Chief of Engineers and served until his death in 1864.
The new Fort Adams was first garrisoned in August 1841, functioning as an active Army post until 1950. During this time the fort was active in five major wars (the Mexican-American War, American Civil War, Spanish-American War, the First World War and the Second World War) but never fired a shot in anger. At the start of the Mexican–American War the post was commanded by Benjamin Kendrick Pierce, the brother of President Franklin Pierce. The fort's redoubt, about 1/4 mile south of the main fort, was built during this war. From 1848 to 1853, Fort Adams was commanded by Colonel William Gates, a long serving veteran of both the War of 1812 and the Mexican War. The fort's garrison was ordered to California and many of the soldiers lost their lives when the steamer SS San Francisco was wrecked, but not sunk, in a North Atlantic storm on 24 December 1853.
Cast-iron 24-pounder smoothbore muzzle-loading gun mounted on a long wood naval gun carriage at Fort Adams.
In a report of 1854 Fort Adams was armed with one hundred 32-pounder seacoast guns, fifty-seven 24-pounder seacoast guns, and forty-three 24-pounder flank howitzers. The flank howitzers were short-barreled guns deployed in casemates in the tenaille to protect the fort against a landward assault.
As part of a major upgrade to US seacoast defenses, in the 1870s Fort Adams' armament was modernized with eleven 15-inch Rodman Guns, (Columbiad, 15-inch, smoothbore, seacoast, Model 1861), thirteen 10-inch Rodman Gun, (Columbiad, 10-inch, smoothbore, seacoast, Model 1861), and four 6.4-inch (100 pounder) Parrott rifles. Three new emplacements were built for the 15-inch guns; the remainder replaced older weapons in the fort, of which all but 20 32-pounders were removed by 1873. For mobile defense, four 4.5-inch siege rifles, four 3-inch Ordnance rifles, and four 10-inch mortars were provided. In 1894, four 8-inch Rodman Guns (Columbiad, 8-inch, smoothbore, seacoast, Model 1844), converted rifles, were added in a new battery south of the fort.
As time went by, the fort's armament was upgraded to keep up with technological innovations. Major kinds of ordnance used at the fort included muzzle-loading cannon in the 19th century, rifled breech-loading artillery pieces in the early 20th Century and anti-aircraft guns during and after the Second World War. The fort received significant armament, in the form of batteries to the south of the main fort, under the Endicott and Taft programs from 1896 through 1907. These were to defend the East Passage of Narragansett Bay in combination with the new Fort Wetherill in Jamestown.
(Library of Congress Photo)
8-inch M1888 gun on the M1892 barbette carriage, one of the first types of artillery emplaced under the Endicott Program. A quick look at Berhow’s book shows that the first of these batteries were completed circa 1898. Only 9 were deployed on the barbette carriage, as the disappearing carriage soon followed. The Endicott and Taft period batteries at Fort Adams were:
Battery Green-Edgerton, 16 12-inch coast defence M1890 Mortars mounted on M1896 barbettes; Battery Reilly with two 10-inch M1888 guns mounted on M1896 disappearing carriages; Battery Talbot with two Armstrong, 4.72-inch, breech-loading, rapid-fire guns, mounted on pedestals; an un-named Battery with one 8-inch M1888 gun mounted on a converted Rodman carriage; Battery Bankhead with three 6-inch Armstrong guns mounted on pedestals; and Battery Belton with two 3-inch M1903 guns mounted on M1903 pedestals.
Batteries Greene-Edgerton, Reilly, and Talbot were built 1896-1899 and were the first of these to be completed. Battery Greene-Edgerton included sixteen mortars, all of which were at first called Battery Greene, but the battery was divided into two groups of eight in 1906. Battery Talbot, one of a number of batteries added on the East Coast at the outbreak of the Spanish–American War in 1898, included two Armstrong, 4.72-inch, breech-loading, rapid-fire guns. One gun of Battery Talbot is preserved at Equality Park in Newport; another is at Fort Moultrie near Charleston, South Carolina and was in Westerly, Rhode Island circa 1920-1977. An unnamed battery of a single 8-inch M1888 gun on a converted 1870s carriage also existed briefly from 1898. In 1907 two additional batteries were completed, Battery Bankhead with three 6-inch Armstrong guns and Battery Belton with two 3-inch M1903 guns.
Battery Greene-Edgerton was named for General Nathanael Greene of the Revolutionary War and Lieutenant- Colonel Wright P. Edgerton, a professor at West Point. Battery Reilly was named for Captain Henry J. Reilly, killed in the China Relief Expedition near Peking on 15 August 1900, who previously served at Fort Adams. Battery Talbot was named for Silas Talbot, an Army officer from Rhode Island in the Revolutionary War who later became a Navy officer and commanded USS Constitution 1799–1801. Battery Bankhead was named for Brevet Major General James Monroe Bankhead, who served in the War of 1812, Second Seminole War, and Mexican–American War. Battery Belton was named for Francis S. Belton, who served in the War of 1812 and the Mexican–American War. In 1913 Battery Bankhead was disarmed and its three 6-inch guns sent to Hawaii.
In the First World War, Fort Adams served as the headquarters for all fortifications in Narragansett Bay, as well as a training center in both world wars. The United States Army Coast Artillery Corps (CAC) was chosen to man all US heavy artillery in that war, as they were the only part of the Army with experience using big guns, along with a significant amount of trained personnel. Four heavy artillery regiments and two heavy artillery brigade headquarters were organized at Fort Adams and served in France, with troops of Coast Defense Commands from Maine, Rhode Island, New York, and elsewhere as their cadre. These included two of the four US railway artillery regiments that saw action in that war (with French-made weapons) and their brigade headquarters. The railway gun units were designated the 52nd and 53rd Artillery Regiments (CAC) (originally the 7th and 8th Provisional Regiments), and the 30th Separate Artillery Brigade (Railway) (CAC) (originally the 1st Expeditionary Brigade). The 51st Artillery Regiment (CAC) (originally the 6th Provisional Regiment), 66th Artillery Regiment (CAC) and the 34th Artillery Brigade (CAC) were also organized at Fort Adams and sent to France, but only the 51st completed training in time to see action.
The two 10-inch guns of Battery Reilly were dismounted in 1917 for potential service as railway guns, but after considerable delay they were sent to Fort Warren near Boston in 1919 to replace guns removed from that fort. Eight of the sixteen mortars at Battery Greene-Edgerton were removed in 1918 for potential railway artillery service; this was also done as a forcewide program to improve the rate of fire due to overcrowding in the mortar pits during reloading. Some sources state that Battery Talbot's guns were redeployed to Sachuest Point 1917-1919, a few miles from Fort Adams. However, Army records show that these guns came from Fort Strong in the Coast Defenses of Boston.
With the First World War over, Battery Talbot was disarmed in 1919 and its guns sent to Newport and Westerly as memorials. At some time after the war three 3-inch M1917 anti-aircraft guns were deployed at the fort, supplemented by at least two mobile 3-inch guns (or possibly mobile 75-mm guns) on White truck or Ford Model T chassis. Battery Belton's two 3-inch guns were transferred to Fort Wetherill in 1925 to replace obsolescent M1902 guns there. This left the eight mortars of Battery Greene-Edgerton as Fort Adams' only armament.
In the Second World War a peak strength of over 3,000 soldiers were assigned to the Harbor Defenses of Narragansett Bay. In September 1940 the 243rd Coast Artillery Regiment of the Rhode Island National Guard was mobilized and sent to Fort Adams to reinforce the Regular Army's 10th Coast Artillery Regiment. The two regiments garrisoned several coast defense forts and anti-aircraft installations under the Harbor Defenses of Narragansett Bay. During the war, Fort Adams and most of the other Endicott Period forts in Rhode Island were superseded by new defenses centered on Fort Church and Fort Greene and their guns were scrapped. However, the previous anti-aircraft guns at the fort were replaced
In 1953, the Army transferred ownership of Fort Adams to the Navy, which still uses some of the grounds for family housing. In 1965, the fort, and most of the surrounding land, was given to the state of Rhode Island for use as Fort Adams State Park. In 1976, Fort Adams was declared a National Historic Landmark, in recognition for its distinctive military architecture, which includes features not found in other forts of the period. In 1994, the Fort Adams Trust was formed, which provides guided tours at the fort and oversees ongoing restoration work at the fort. President Dwight D. Eisenhower lived at the former commanding officer's quarters (now called the Eisenhower House) during his summer vacations in Newport in 1958 and 1960. (Wikipedia)
(Tammy Green Photo)
(Kenneth C. Zirkel Photo)
Cast-iron 24-pounder smoothbore muzzle-loading Gun, (ca. 1775 - 1815), weight 51-1-0 (5,740 lbs), Serial No. corroded. mounted on a concrete stand.
(John Stanton Photo, ca 1968)
Cast-iron 24-pounder smoothbore muzzle-loading Gun, (ca. 1775 - 1815), weight corroded, Serial No. corroded. No. 1 of 6 on the ground, severely corroded.
Cast-iron 24-pounder smoothbore muzzle-loading Gun, (ca. 1775 - 1815), weight corroded, Serial No. corroded. No. 2 of 6 on the ground, severely corroded.
(Jack E. Boucher Photo)
Cast-iron 24-pounder smoothbore muzzle-loading Gun, (ca. 1775 - 1815), weight corroded, Serial No. corroded. No. 3 of 6 on the ground, severely corroded.
Cast-iron 24-pounder smoothbore muzzle-loading Gun, (ca. 1775 - 1815), weight corroded, Serial No. corroded. No. 4 of 6 on the ground, severely corroded and lacking trunnions.
Cast-iron 24-pounder smoothbore muzzle-loading Gun, (ca. 1775 - 1815), weight corroded, Serial No. corroded. No. 5 of 6 on the ground, severely corroded and lacking trunnions.
Cast-iron 24-pounder smoothbore muzzle-loading Gun, (ca. 1775 - 1815), weight corroded, Serial No. corroded. No. 6 of 6 on the ground, severely corroded and lacking trunnions.
(John T. Descheneau Photo)
Two heavily corroded Cast-iron 24-pounder smoothbore muzzle-loading Guns, recovered from the waters near Fort Adams.
Two other guns from this group were loaned to the Massachusetts District Commission (MDC) in the early 1980’s. They are now on display at Fort Revere State Park in Hull, Massachusetts.
Cast-iron smoothbore muzzle-loading replica “Constitution Gun” made ca. 1907 and donated to the City of Newport in 1933.
(Library of Congress Photo)
BL 3.6-inch M1890 mortar, Civil War era.
BL 3.6-inch Model 1890 mortar, listed on the 1899 ordnance report. This was a rare breech loading mortar, (only 76 were made) and was likely only used for training. It may have been used to train gunners in the use of indirect fire weapons without the expense of firing larger mortars.
Narragansett, Camp Varnum
Camp Varnum is a Rhode Island Army National Guard training facility in the Boston Neck area of Narragansett Island. During the Second World War it was Fort Varnum, a coastal defense fort. Fort Varnum was built as part of a general modernization of US coast defenses begun in 1940 with the outbreak of war in Europe and the Fall of France. The fort is named for General James Mitchell Varnum of the Revolutionary War. It was built to relocate previously-emplaced weapons to a more useful location nearer the entrance to Narragansett Bay. The fort was sited to reinforce new 6-inch gun batteries at Fort Greene in Point Judith and Fort Burnside in Jamestown.
( - US Archives Photo)
6-inch gun on model 1900 pedestal mount with gun shield, similar to the guns at Fort Varnum.
The fort was intended to protect the West Passage of Narragansett Bay as part of the Harbor Defences of Narragansett Bay. Fort Varnum's main armament was Battery House, two 6-inch M1900 guns on pedestal mounts, completed in 1942. The battery was a relocation of Battery House at Fort Getty in Jamestown. Two 3-inch M1903 guns on pedestal mounts were planned for Battery Armistead, relocated from Fort Kearny, now the University of Rhode Island Narragansett Bay Campus. However, these guns arrived in unusable condition, and Fort Varnum's commander asked that they be scrapped. They were stored instead and were never mounted. Better light weapons were provided in 1943 as Anti-Motor Torpedo Boat Battery (AMTB) 921, with four 90-mm M1A2 anti-aircraft guns, two on fixed mounts and two on towed mounts.
Several fire control stations were built in Narragansett disguised as beach cottages; these may date from the start of the Endicott Program at the turn of the century. Most have been destroyed; some survive at Camp Varnum. In 1947, with the war over, Fort Varnum's guns were scrapped along with almost all other US coast artillery weapons. (Wikipedia)
(Sturmvogel 66 Photo)
37-mm five-barrelled Hotchkiss Revolving Cannon, US Army Field Artillery Museum, Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
37-mm five-barrelled Hotchkiss Revolving Cannon, No. 1 of 2, manufactured ca. 1870’s. Formerly located at the Woonsocket National Guard Armory.
37-mm five-barrelled Hotchkiss Revolving Cannon, No. 2 of 2, manufactured ca. 1870’s. Formerly located at the Woonsocket National Guard Armory.
The Hotchkiss Revolving Cannon was a Gatling-type revolving barrel machine gun invented in 1872 by Benjamin B. Hotchkiss (1826–1885), founder of Hotchkiss et Cie. It was a built-up, rifled, rapid-fire gun of oil-tempered steel, having a rectangular breechblock which moved in a mortise cut completely through the jacket. It was designed to be light enough to travel with cavalry, and had an effective range beyond that of rifled small-arms.
The 1-pounder revolving Hotchkiss cannon had five 37-mm barrels, and was capable of firing 68 rounds per minute with an accuracy range of 2,000 yards (1,800 m). Each feed magazine held ten rounds and weighed approximately 18 pounds (8 kg). Besides the field gun version, several other versions of the 37-mm Hotchkiss revolving cannon were in existence, notably versions for naval defense against torpedo boats as well as fortress versions firing shrapnel or canister for the defense of moats. The naval version was adopted by Russia and the United States, amongst others. The field cannon version was accompanied by a horse-drawn ammunition limber, which held 110 rounds plus six loaded magazines, totaling 170 rounds.
Cast-iron possibly 6-pounder smoothbore muzzle-loading Gun mounted vertically with the muzzle down, No. 1 of 2. In front of the Old Armory on Exchange Street.
Cast-iron possibly 6-pounder smoothbore muzzle-loading Gun mounted vertically with the muzzle down, No. 2 of 2. ca. 1800. Old Armory on Exchange Street.
Civil War Memorial, Pawtucket.
(Jocelyn Skaarup Photos)
3"/50 calibre US Navy Gun, Slater Park. (Cole and Ashley)
German First World War 15-cm schwere Feldhaubitze 1902 (15-cm sFH 02), (Serial Nr. 544), mounted on an American Second World War gun carriage.
The 15-cm schwere Feldhaubitze 1902 (15-cm sFH 02), was a German Heavy Field Howitzer introduced in 1903 and served in the Great War. It was the first artillery piece to use a modern recoil system in the German Army. Some 416 were in service at the beginning of the war. Its mobility, which allowed it to be deployed as medium artillery, and fairly heavy shell gave the German army a firepower advantage in the early battles in Belgium and France in 1914 as the French and British armies lacked an equivalent.
British cast-iron 18-pounder smoothbore muzzle-loading Gun, Ca. 1750, salvaged off of Aquidneck Island, mounted on a wood naval gun carriage. Town Hall, Intersection of Route 138 and Middle Road.
State Capitol building, Providence.
Bronze 6-pounder Model 1841 smoothbore muzzleloading Field Gun, N.P. Ames, mounted on a field carriage. "The Bull Run Gun", dated 1861. This gun was used by the Providence Marine Corps of Artillery (aka. 1st Rhode Island Battery) during the Bull Run campaign. Inside the State House, North entrance.
Bronze 12-pounder Napoleon Model 1857 smoothbore muzzle-loading Gun-Howitzer, (Federal Gun with muzzle swell used in the Civil War), weight 1,233 lbs, marked on the muzzle as Serial No. 2, “HNH & Co.” (manufacturer), T.J.R. (initials of inspector Thomas J. Rodman), 18?? (date obscured due to battle damage). "The Gettysburg Gun". This Napoleon was hit by a cannon ball at the battle of Gettysburg and, while the gun crew was attempting to reload it, another cannon ball was jammed in the muzzle. The gun is located inside the north entrance of the State House.
8-inch mortar Model 1840, replica, No. 1 of 4 mortars mounted on the NW corner of the Civil War monument in Kennedy Plaza, across from City Hall.
8-inch mortar Model 1840, replica, No. 2 of 4 mortars mounted on the SW corner of the Civil War monument in Kennedy Plaza, across from City Hall.
8-inch mortar (Serial No. 1050), No. 3 of 4 mortars mounted on the SE corner of the Civil War monument in Kennedy Plaza, across from City Hall.
8-inch mortar replica No. 4 of 4 mortars mounted on the NE corner of the Civil War monument in Kennedy Plaza, across from City Hall.
Four 10-inch Siege Mortars Model 1861. Two originally flanked the entrance at each end of the armory. (Removed ca. 2003 and in storage by State of Rhode Island). Cranston Street Armory, on the corner of Cranston and Dexter Streets.
(Library of Congress Photo)
Two Model 1829 32-pounder Modle 1829 James Rifles. The one in the foreground is mounted on a siege carriage, and the one beyond it is mounted on an iron front pintle barbette carriage.
Cast-iron smoothbore muzzle-loading Gun, embedded muzzle down in the sidewalk, Revolutionary War era, No. 1 of 2. Benefit Street Arsenal. (Google Earth Photos)
Cast-iron smoothbore muzzle-loading Gun, embedded muzzle down in the sidewalk, Revolutionary War era, No. 2 of 2. Benefit Street Arsenal.
Quonset Air Museum
British Abbot 105-mm Self-propelled Gun, Quonset Air Museum.
Russian ZU-23-4 towed Anti-Aircraft Gun, Quonset Air Museum.
Russian 23-mm ZU-23 towed Anti-Aircraft Gun, Quonset Air Museum.
Russian 37-mm twin B47 Anti-Aircraft Gun, Quonset Air Museum.
(University of Rhode Island Photo)
30-pounder Parrott Rifle. The barrel is broken forward of the trunnions, no visible markings. University of Rhode Island Quadrangle.
Saunderstown, Fort Kearny
Fort Kearny was a coastal defence fort from 1901 to 1943.
Fort Kearny was built under the Endicott Program 1904-1908 as part of the Coast Defences of Narragansett Bay. The fort is named for Major General Philip Kearny, killed in the American Civil War. It protected the West Passage of Narragansett Bay, along with Fort Getty in Jamestown and Fort Greble on Dutch Island. The fort was primarily armed with six 6-inch M1905 guns (152-mm) on disappearing carriages, four in Battery French and two in Battery Cram. Two 3-inch M1903 guns (76-mm) were also present in Battery Armistead. Battery French was named for William H. French, a general in the Civil War. Battery Cram was named for Thomas J. Cram, a topographical engineer in the Civil War. Battery Armistead was named for Captain Lewis G. A. Armistead, who was killed in the War of 1812.
6-inch M1905 gun mounted on a disappearing carriage.
The guns of Battery French were removed in 1917 for potential service on the Western Front; three of the guns were sent to France for use on field carriages, but sources indicate that none of the 6-inch gun regiments completed training before the Armistice and thus they did not see combat. The guns were not returned to Fort Kearny.
In the Second World War a large-scale modernization of coast defenses was implemented; in Narragansett Bay this was centered on Fort Church and Fort Greene. Fort Kearny was slated for disarmament once the new defenses were completed. In 1942 the 3-inch guns of Battery Armistead were relocated to Fort Varnum, and in 1943, with improved defenses completed, Fort Kearny's two remaining guns at Battery Cram were scrapped. Fort Kearny was a prisoner-of-war camp in the Second World War, beginning in February 1945. (Wikipedia)
(Library of Congress Photo)
10-inch Rodman Gun, (Columbiad, 10-inch, smoothbore, seacoast, Model 1861), 59, 1866, Confederate Army, Fort Darling, Virginia.
(Elisha Hunt Photo)
(Kenneth C. Zirkel Photos)
10-inch Rodman Gun, (Columbiad, 10-inch, smoothbore, seacoast, Model 1861), weight 14,980-lbs, mounted upright on pedestal. Veterans’ Park, opposite the Methodist Church, on the Warren Common.
Watch Hill, Fort Mansfield
Fort Mansfield and similar forts stretching from Galveston to Maine can be traced back to a joint Army-Navy Board created in 1883 known as the Gun Foundry Board. Its report a year later warned of the defenseless condition of the USA's coasts and recommended a system of fortifications to protect harbors and coastal cities from invasion. In 1885 this Board was replaced by what has become known as the Endicott Board which in 1886 issued formal recommendations for a major coastal defense network. Fort Mansfield was one of numerous coastal artillery installations constructed in the Harbor Defenses of Long Island Sound as part of the coastal defense network for New York City. It was named in honor of Joseph K. Mansfield (1803–1862), who served as an engineer officer during the Mexican War and was eventually promoted to Inspector General of the Army; as a general he was killed at the Battle of Antietam in the Civil War. During the Second World War a battery of two 16"/50 caliber Mark 2 guns was proposed for the Watch Hill area, but it was never built. (Wikipedia)
(Roger Davis Photo)
4.7-inch Model 1906 M1 Field Gun, No. 1 of 2. VFW Post No. 2, Main Street.
(Roger Davis Photo)
4.7-inch Model 1906 M1 Field Gun, No. 2 of 2. VFW Post No. 2, Main Street.
8-inch 200-pounder Parrot Rifle, M1861, 1864, mounted on original top carriage, weighing 16,487-lbs. From Fort Moultrie, South Carolina. Westerly Armory.
(Barbara Poole Photo)
SBML possibly 24-pounder Gun, possible King George III royal cypher, near the War Memorial.
(US Army Signal Corps Photo No. 8A/FEC-50-4713)
105-mm M2A2 Howitzer Gun crew waits for the signal to fire on the enemy, Korea, 25 July 1950.
(Trails and Walks in Rhode Island Photo)
105-mm M2A2 Howitzer, carriage Serial No. 11576, Parish Pressed Steel, 1954, WMT. Second World War Memorial State Park.