Visited 4 Apr 2009 – During the CDSG Conference we visited all the Endicott batteries on Fort Washington in Maryland. As I build out a FortWiki.com page for each battery, I’ll blog about the significant ones.
Battery Decatur is situated next to the Old Third System Fort Washington and the two of them make an imposing view as you climb up the hill from the lower parking lot. There was a fence around Battery Decatur but the park rangers were kind enough to open the Battery up to us.
Apparently construction on Battery Decatur was started in 1892-93 and then suspended because the M1894 disappearing carriages for the M1888 10″ guns were not totally developed. Construction resumed in 1897 and the Battery was accepted in 1899. Thanks to the Gun and Carriage Cards now available through the CDSG, we know that the carriages were shipped to Fort Washington in Oct 1896 and probably mounted in 1897. Battery Decatur was accepted for use in 1899. The Gun and Carriage Cards indicate that both of the 10″ guns were removed and shipped to Fort Moultrie in March 1919 and that the carriages were scrapped in 1920.
The Battery now has no guns or carriages in place. Emplacement #2 still has the base mounting ring in place but only the 16 mounting bolts can be seen surrounding the counterweight well of emplacement #1. This battery has 6 steps from the loading platform down to the carriage base level (some have only 5 giant steps). Neither emplacement is in good shape but emplacement #1 seems to be the worst with crumbling concrete everywhere.
Down below, the galleries were a bit wet with some stalactites forming but pretty clean. The galleries under the gun emplacements were circular with the outer walls made of brick. Most of the stairs and ladders were still in place. The shell hoist doors were in place but closed.
Battery Decatur is a good example of an early Endicott 10″ disappearing gun battery with several unique features and well worth visiting.
This post was written by JohnStanton on April 11, 2009