Battery John Gunnison / New Fremont Peck

Battery John Gunnison / New Fremont Peck Battery John Gunnison / New Battery Fremont Peck The Battery remained essentially unchanged from 1904 until 1943. Gun #2 was mounted on 21 May 1943.
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Battery Gunnison is an "Endicott" era (1885-1905) seacoast artillery gun emplacement that was built at Fort Hancock, NJ in 1904 to protect New York City from naval attack. Built of re-enforced concrete, it was originally armed with two 6-inch M1903 "disappearing" guns on counter-weight carriages that retracted behind a wall when they were fired, which would make them "disappear" from the view of a

n enemy ship. The main structure of the battery, called The Traverse, held the ammunition for the guns, support equipment, and a room to track and plot the movement of a target, should there ever be one. In November of 1942 the staff of the Harbor Defense of New York (HDNY) evaluated the defenses and concluded the location of Battery Gunnison was optimal for a Battery dedicated to the mission of the Harbor Entrance Control Post. However, the armament of two disappearing guns was not acceptable. In evaluating Battery Peck (located north of 9-gun Battery), the Army was very satisfied with the two M1900 barbette mounted 6-inch rifles but not its location. In February 1943, HDNY ordered Battery Gunnison's two M1903 6-inch disappearing guns be removed and replaced by the two M1900 6-inch barbette guns of Battery Peck. The first gun was mounted in emplacement #1 (south side) on 8 April 1943. The Battery was further improved by removing the wall between the two center rooms and creating a much larger "plotting room" for modern fire control equipment. The plotting room also received an M1 Collective Protector (chemical warfare air purification system and decontamination air lock), upgraded telephone and electrical system, and the two shell hoists from old Battery Peck were installed in the magazine and two concrete bridges were installed from the raised gun platforms to improve ammunition service to the guns. Upon completion of the restructuring, "Battery Gunnison" was renamed "Battery Peck" and was fully active by June 1943. New Battery Peck was also known as “Battery No. 5”. All Batteries in HDNY had numbers in addition to most being given formal names by General Order. The original Battery Peck, renamed “Battery No. 8”, was modified to take two fixed 90mm Anti-Motor Torpedo Boat (aka "AMTB") guns in place of the two M1900 6-inch barbette rifles and two additional mobile 90mm guns for a total of four such guns. Both Batteries remained manned until the end of WWII. The primary threat to the United States at this time was the German U-Boat fleet operating throughout the Atlantic Ocean and up along the entire East Coast. An additional threat was German surface ships such as cruisers, battleships and raiders (armed merchant ships) of the German Fleet. There was considerable concern for German naval bombardment of US War Industries so the Army and Navy were ever vigilent. Another threat was the German navy sinking a ship in Ambrose channel and blocking (bottling up) New York Harbor. This threat was considered very serious and the Army was always on the alert for suspicious shipping entering the harbor. New Battery Peck would serve for the duration of the war as the "Examination Battery" for the Advance Harbor Entrance Control Post (HECP) No. 1 which was located on top of Battery Potter. In this role, Battery Peck would fire a warning or "bring to" shot(s) at vessels when directed by the HECP. "Destructive Fire" would be ordered if a vessel failed to follow instructions and appeared as a threat. Manned 24 hours a day and seven days a week, the Battery would go on to fire many times during the Second World War as a warning to vessels that failed to follow protocol as they entered the harbor. The Battery fired over 300 rounds from each gun from 1943 to 1945 – some for service practices but most in support of the HECP. In 1948, the two guns were determined to be past their service life (maximum number of rounds fired for the life of the gun) and the two guns of Battery Livingston at Fort Hamilton replaced the two guns of Battery Peck. It is those two guns, serial numbers 22 and 23, that now reside in Battery Peck. The last service practice of Battery Peck was fired in 1949. The guns fell silent in 1950. The Army requested and was granted permission to cease the Harbor Defense mission and the Coast Artillery Corps as a branch was eliminated. The Harbor Defenses of New York were deactivated as a Command and Fort Hancock was closed (for about three months) just before the start of the Korean War. Fort Hancock reopened in the summer of 1950, but for a different mission – defense against Soviet Bombers. By the mid-1950s, nearly all seacoast artillery guns had been scrapped - except the two M1900 6-inch guns of "Battery Peck". The guns remained at Battery Peck until removed by the Smithsonian Institution in 1964. When the Army closed Fort Hancock and transferred the peninsula to Department of the Interior for use by the National Park Service in 1975, the Army and National Park Service teamed to return the guns to Battery Peck in 1976. The parts for the guns such as breach blocks, traversing equipment and the hoist for Gun #1 were stored in Park Service holdings. In 2002 a group of volunteers began working with the National Park Service to begin a full restoration of the Battery. In 2007 the group of volunteers incorporated as “Army Ground Forces Association”, an IRS designated 501.c.3 public charity and signed an agreement with the National Park Service. Since 2002, "Battery Gunnison/New Battery Peck" has been transformed into one of best restored seacoast artillery gun batteries in the United States. It is the only WWII era Battery that retains its guns in a condition to conduct interpretation - they traverse, elevate, the breach blocks operate and so does the fire control equipment. In a partnership with the National Park Service and the Army Ground Forces Association, the restoration of the Battery continues to this day, and visitors have a chance to step back into 1943 in a "hands on" manner with working Coast Artillery equipment such as fire control instruments and spotting telescopes, fire control telephones, load inert (dummy) ammunition, experience the only restored and operational coast artillery plotting room in the nation, experience the only fully operational M1 Collective Chemical Warfare Protective system, and operate the M1900 6-inch guns themselves. The interior of the Battery is open for guided tours whenever members of AGFA are present or as advertised on the AGFA web page (www.armygroundforces.org) or the National Park Service calendar (https://www.nps.gov/gate/planyourvisit/calendar.htm). The Battery grounds and gun platforms are always available for self guided tours. Using "317 Gunnison Road Highlands, NJ 07732" in your GPS will take you to about 300 yards from the Battery. The Battery is immediately nearby, just east of the intersection of Gunnison Road and Atlantic Drive (see map). If using Google Maps, type in "Battery Gunnison" and you will get much closer to the Battery. Using the "Bing" directions available here will bring you directly to the Battery. Parking for the Battery is just a short walk away in the adjacent "Gunnison Beach" parking lot. The entrance to the lot is on Gunnison Road, between Magruder Road and Atlantic Drive; the exit for the lot, which is next to the sidewalk that leads to the Battery, is at the intersection of Gunnison Road and Atlantic Drive. Seasonal Parking Fees apply to this parking lot between Memorial Day and Labor Day between the hours of 7 am - 4 PM, but parking is always free in the Fort Hancock Historic Post area, a 10 minute walk away from Battery Gunnison/New Battery Peck.

Yesterday’s Fort Hancock Day celebration
10/23/2023

Yesterday’s Fort Hancock Day celebration

11/24/2022
Battery C of the 52nd CA firing an M1918 12-inch railway mortar at Fort Hancock, July 26, 1938.  Note the very prominent...
05/20/2022

Battery C of the 52nd CA firing an M1918 12-inch railway mortar at Fort Hancock, July 26, 1938. Note the very prominent muzzle flash and the streak of the projectile moving away from the muzzle. Photo Credit: Gateway National Recreation Area, National Park Service.

This image from either Battery Mills or Kingman at Fort Hancock shows a number of interesting things.  The soldiers are ...
04/28/2022

This image from either Battery Mills or Kingman at Fort Hancock shows a number of interesting things. The soldiers are standing by the breech of a 12-inch barbette carriage gun; this gives an idea of the scale of the large-caliber guns of the Coast Artillery. The soldiers are wearing two different versions of the army fatigue uniform; these are work uniforms and are less recognized than combat uniforms or dress uniforms. The soldier on the right is wearing a blue denim M1937 fatigue uniform, while the soldier on the left is wearing an M1941 herringbone twill fatigue uniform that was a light shade of green in color. Note all the stains that can be seen on the uniforms; working on the guns was a dirty job, hence the need for a fatigue uniform. Photo Credit: Gateway National Recreation Area, National Park Service.

PUBLIC LIVING HISTORY EVENTOcean Fun Days/Coast Defense Days Please join Army Ground Forces Association, the Sandy Hook ...
04/25/2022

PUBLIC LIVING HISTORY EVENT
Ocean Fun Days/Coast Defense Days

Please join Army Ground Forces Association, the Sandy Hook Unit (National Park Service) and New Jersey SeaGrant Consortium for Ocean Fun Days and Coast Defense Days on Sunday 22 May from 11 AM to 3 PM. To learn more about Ocean Fun Days, visit https://oceanfundays.org/

AGFA will open Battery Gunnison/New Battery Peck for interpretive Living History beginning at 1100 hours (11 AM) on Sunday 22 May. We will close promptly at 1600 (4 PM).

Walking Tours to Battery Gunnison/New Battery Peck from Bldg #22 (NJ SeaGrant Consortium) will begin promptly at 11:15, 12:15, 1:15 and 2:15 with arrival at the Battery within 15 minutes of the start of the walk. Please see Ocean Fun Days program for details.

This is the first public interpretive event to be hosted by AGFA at Battery Gunnison/New Battery Peck since October 2019. In the time since then, AGFA has been hard at work on its various restoration projects (http://armygroundforces.org/restoration.html). As a summary, since October 2019, the following projects have been completed or are nearly completed:

1) Full installation of the M1 Collective Protector (chemical decontamination and protection system). This 1930s designed and built system is fully functional with operating motors and blowers. This project was started in 2016 and completed in 2021.

2) Fully restored and installed Shell Hoist #1. This seven year project to restore the hoist began in earnest in 2019 and was completed in August 2021 with installation. A temporary upper shell table was fabricated in March-April 2022 and will be used until a new concrete/steel stable can be built at some point in the next few years.

3) Both guns now fully elevate/depress due to full installation of appropriate weights to balance the gun tubes. This project started in the summer of 2019 and was essentially completed in April 2022.

4) New and historically accurate powder can storage system within the powder magazine. This is a complete revision of this ammunition storage space making it much more historically accurate in appearance and function. This project started in November 2019 and was completed in April 2020.

We look forward to seeing everyone on Sunday 22 May beginning at 11 AM.

For more information on Army Ground Forces Association, please visit www.armygroundforces.org .

We’re celebrating 19 years of ocean discovery, coastal stewardship and energy conservation! Ocean Fun Days is an eco-friendly event the whole family (or school) can enjoy! Save the Date! May 21, 2022 Island Beach State Park, Seaside Park May 22, 2022 NJ Sea Grant Consortium, Sandy Hook Join Us! 11...

Soldiers of the Women's Army Corps (formerly the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps) at Fort Hancock in 1943.  The first image...
03/10/2022

Soldiers of the Women's Army Corps (formerly the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps) at Fort Hancock in 1943. The first image marks the transition from WAAC to WAC; the second shows a formation of WAC soldiers on the parade ground. Photo Credit: Gateway National Recreation Area, National Park Service.

Fishing has always been a popular pastime at Fort Hancock, even in its days as an active army post.  The first image is ...
11/05/2021

Fishing has always been a popular pastime at Fort Hancock, even in its days as an active army post. The first image is a 1st SGT (name unknown) with his catch in 1940. The second image is a 7th Coast Artillery SGT with his "Superfisherman" award in 1942; the name appearing on the award is EJ Bonnette. Photo Credit: Gateway National Recreation Area, National Park Service.

Blood drives were extremely common during WWII.  These images are from a blood drive held at Fort Hancock during October...
09/23/2021

Blood drives were extremely common during WWII. These images are from a blood drive held at Fort Hancock during October 1942. Troops are signing the "roll of honor" at the breach of a 8-inch railway gun in the first image; the second image shows troops having snacks with nurses after donating blood; one expects this opportunity greatly increased donations. Image Credit: Gateway National Recreation Area, National Park Service.

Images of the railroad guns that were based at Fort Hancock before and during WWII are fairly common; however, along wit...
09/02/2021

Images of the railroad guns that were based at Fort Hancock before and during WWII are fairly common; however, along with the guns, there was much less well-known supporting equipment. Railroad searchlights were portable "disappearing" searchlights mounted on railroad cars for use as part of the fire control system that could be moved as part of the gun train. This image is from Fort Hancock, circa 1941. Photo Credit: Gateway National Recreation Area, National Park Service.

Fire control towers were once very common on Fort Hancock, but they no longer exist on site.  These structures, largely ...
07/15/2021

Fire control towers were once very common on Fort Hancock, but they no longer exist on site. These structures, largely steel frame towers, raised the height of fire control instruments above the low lying elevation of Sandy Hook, increasing the distance ships could be spotted, as well as allowing for certain types of fire control instruments that required high elevation.

Three types of towers are pictured. The first image is the Gunnison Tower, a typical steel frame tower; this picture is from 1942. The second image from the early 1950’s is a concrete fire control tower (near the center of the image), located at Fishing Beach. The final image is something a bit different; it shows a fire control station for Battery Mills that was located at Twin Lights. The image is not dated but based on the uniform and when the battery was activated, it is likely from the early 1920’s.

Photo Credit: Gateway National Recreation Area, National Park Service.

Adaptive reuse of structures has a long history at Fort Hanock.  Battery Potter was the first modern gun battery constru...
07/08/2021

Adaptive reuse of structures has a long history at Fort Hanock. Battery Potter was the first modern gun battery constructed at Fort Hancock, completed in 1894 (though it wasn't transferred to the Coast Artillery until 1898). By 1907, it was obsolete, with improved battery designs and gun carriages (primarily disappearing guns) taking its place. The first image, tentatively dated 1912, shows the battery being disarmed (note the dismounted gun tubes along the top of the image), but you can already see a fire control station that has been built on the right-hand side of the image. The second image, dated 1921, shows a row of fire control stations located where the guns and carriages had been located. The final image shows the interior of one of the fire control stations in 1919. You can see the remains of these structures on top of Battery Potter today. Photo Credit: Gateway National Recreation Area, National Park Service.

A different perspective on Fort Hancock today; actress Lana Turner on a morale building visit to the post in 1941...Phot...
07/01/2021

A different perspective on Fort Hancock today; actress Lana Turner on a morale building visit to the post in 1941...
Photo Credit: Gateway National Recreation Area, National Park Service.

On this day 102 years ago (June 24, 1919), the then newly built Battery Kingman at Fort Hancock was being proof fired.  ...
06/24/2021

On this day 102 years ago (June 24, 1919), the then newly built Battery Kingman at Fort Hancock was being proof fired. This process was photographed extensively; here are a few of the many images taken that day... Photo Credit: Gateway National Recreation Area, National Park Service.
www.armygroundforces.org

Gun train of Battery E, 52nd Coast Artillery at Fort Hancock, NJ on September 24, 1937.  Guns are  8-inch Gun M1888MIA1 ...
06/17/2021

Gun train of Battery E, 52nd Coast Artillery at Fort Hancock, NJ on September 24, 1937. Guns are 8-inch Gun M1888MIA1 Barbette carriage M1918 on railway car M1918MI. Photo Credit: Gateway National Recreation Area, National Park Service.

Then and now for the area including and around the Nine Gun Battery at Fort Hancock, NJ.  The black and white image is f...
06/10/2021

Then and now for the area including and around the Nine Gun Battery at Fort Hancock, NJ. The black and white image is from March 2, 1942, with a color image of current conditions from Google Earth. Large numbers WWII temporary structures were in the direct vicinity. Photo Credit: Gateway National Recreation Area, National Park Service.
www.armygroundforces.org

Many areas of Fort Hancock at first glance appear to show little sign of human impact.  However, historic pictures can t...
06/04/2021

Many areas of Fort Hancock at first glance appear to show little sign of human impact. However, historic pictures can tell a different story. This area, near the location of the balloon hangar, had numerous temporary wood barracks during WWII. The first image shows those barracks under construction during 1941, while the other black and white image shows the area from the air in 1943. The final color image from Google Earth is an attempt to replicate the view of the aerial image as the area exists today. Photo Credit: Gateway National Recreation Area, National Park Service.

Continuing with the series of nighttime photos, this image from February 12, 1943 features Fire Control Tower G in the f...
05/27/2021

Continuing with the series of nighttime photos, this image from February 12, 1943 features Fire Control Tower G in the foreground, towards the back you can see the Post Theater to the center-left, and the chapel to the far left, along with numerous temporary buildings that no longer exist. Photo Credit: Gateway National Recreation Area, National Park Service. www.armygroundforces.org

Another nighttime view, this time looking west toward the main post area from the Gunnison tower.  February 12, 1943.  P...
05/20/2021

Another nighttime view, this time looking west toward the main post area from the Gunnison tower. February 12, 1943. Photo Credit: Gateway National Recreation Area, National Park Service.
www.armygroundforces.org

Very unique nighttime image of the barracks of the 245th Coast Artillery, located directly adjacent to the 9-gun battery...
05/13/2021

Very unique nighttime image of the barracks of the 245th Coast Artillery, located directly adjacent to the 9-gun battery (visible in the background) at Fort Hancock, taken on February 12, 1943. This image gives some perspective on the scale of the temporary construction program that resulted in buildings all over Fort Hancock, virtually all of which are now gone. Photo Credit: Gateway National Recreation Area, National Park Service.

This image, circa 1936, is something not often seen even historic images, a "disappearing searchlight".  The light itsel...
04/30/2021

This image, circa 1936, is something not often seen even historic images, a "disappearing searchlight". The light itself is protected by the small shed on the left while not in use, while the large object at the right end of the structure is a counterweight that when released, raised the searchlight upright. Credit: Gateway National Recreation Area, National Park Service.

8-inch Gun M1888MIA1 Barbette carriage M1918 on railway car M1918MI with Gunnison tower in the background in 1941.  Cred...
04/22/2021

8-inch Gun M1888MIA1 Barbette carriage M1918 on railway car M1918MI with Gunnison tower in the background in 1941. Credit: Gateway National Recreation Area, National Park Service.

Images of an emplacement and plotting room of Battery C, 52nd Coast Artillery (manning 155mm guns) at Fort Hancock in 19...
04/15/2021

Images of an emplacement and plotting room of Battery C, 52nd Coast Artillery (manning 155mm guns) at Fort Hancock in 1941. Credit: Gateway National Recreation Area, National Park Service. www.armygroundforces.org

Address

Battery Gunnison, Atlantic Drive
Middletown, NJ
07732

Opening Hours

Monday 5am - 9pm
Tuesday 5am - 9pm
Wednesday 5am - 9pm
Thursday 5am - 9pm
Friday 5am - 9pm
Saturday 5am - 9pm
Sunday 5am - 9pm

Telephone

+17328725970

Website

http://www.nps.gov/gate, http://www.nps.gov/gate/historyculture/gunnison.htm, http://f

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Guarding the Gate for over 100 Years

Battery Gunnison is a late "Endicott" era seacoast artillery gun emplacement that was built at Fort Hancock, NJ in 1904 to protect New York Harbor from naval attack. Built of re-enforced concrete, it was originally armed with two 6-inch M1903 "disappearing" guns on counter-weight carriages that retracted behind a wall when they were fired, which would make them "disappear" from the enemy's view. The main structure of the battery, called The Traverse, held the ammunition for the guns, support equipment, and a room to track and plot the movement of a target, should there ever be one. The Battery remained more-or-less in its original configuration and layout from 1904 until February 1943. The location of Battery Gunnison was ideal for its mission; however, by early 1942 the M1903 disappearing gun carriages were proving difficult to maintain and keep mechanically operational. In February 1943 the Army approved a solution to the problem. From March to June1943, at the height of the Battle of the Atlantic, the Battery was modernized to bolster the defenses of New York Harbor. The two problematic 6-inch disappearing guns were removed, the emplacements modified, and two 6-inch M1900 pedestal mounted rifles were emplaced, giving the Battery an extremely lethal edge and the ability to hit any target within a 16,000-yard (9 & 1/2 miles), 360-degree radius. These guns had been transferred and brought down from Battery Fremont Peck, another Battery at Fort Hancock, located almost a mile away. Hence, Battery Gunnison was renamed "Battery Gunnison / New Battery Peck." The original Battery Peck was then modified to take two fixed and two mobile 90mm Anti-Motor Torpedo Boat (aka "AMTB") guns. The primary threat to the east coast of the United States at this time was the German U-Boat fleet operating just off the East Coast, as well as potential German surface attacks by the German Navy (Kriegsmarine) . New Battery Peck would serve for the duration of the war in two roles – one as part of Gun Group #1, and the other as the Advance Harbor Entrance Control Post (HECP) No. 1's "Examination Battery," which would fire “bring to” or warning shots at vessels that acted suspiciously or otherwise failed to follow instructions as they entered the harbor. "Destructive Fire" would be ordered if a vessel failed to follow instructions and appeared as a threat. Manned 24 hours a day and seven days a week, the Battery would go on to fire at least 13 times between September 1943 and September 1944 as a warning to vessels that failed to follow protocol as they entered the harbor. The guns last fired in 1949 during a training exercise for local college ROTC students . The Harbor Defenses of New York were deactivated in 1950 and by the end of the year the Army's Coast Artillery ceased to exist. By the mid-1950s the vast majority of the guns in harbor defense batteries across the United States and overseas had been salvaged for scrap, with one of the few exceptions being Battery Gunnison/New Battery Peck. The guns sat quietly until removed by the US Army, along with about six other 90mm and 6-inch coast artillery guns from across the nation, destined for a Smithsonian museum display in 1964. The museum was never built, and the guns sat in an outdoor storage yard in Maryland for the next 10 years. In 1974, Fort Hancock was closed and the peninsula was transferred to the Department of the Interior and Fort Hancock became a National Park on January 1st, 1975. During this time, an effort was made by the National Park Service and the US Army to have the guns returned to suitable locations. These efforts were successful, and Battery Gunnison/New Battery Peck’s guns were returned in February, 1976. Unfortunately, the National Park Service lacked the resources to care for and interpret the Battery on a continuing basis. However... In 2002, a group of dedicated volunteers called the Army Ground Forces Association (http://www.armyroundforces.org) came to the rescue of the Battery and in a partnership with the National Park Service, began a long term restoration project of the site. Since then, Battery Gunnison/New Peck has been transformed into THE best preserved and restored coast artillery gun battery in the United States.

The restoration of the Battery continues to this day, and visitors have a chance to step back into 1943 and literally go "hands on" with working Coast Artillery equipment such as fire control telescopes, telephones, inert ammunition displays, the only restored and operational coast artillery plotting room in the nation, and the guns themselves. The Battery is open for guided tours throughout the spring and summer, as well as monthly work weekends. However, the Battery grounds and gun platforms are always available for self guided tours within normal seasonal park visiting hours. Please note that using "317 Gunnison Road Highlands, NJ 07732" in your GPS may not take you directly to the Battery. It is, however, the closest possible address point a navigation system can recognize. The Battery is immediately nearby, just east of the intersection of Gunnison Road and Atlantic Drive (see map). If using Google Maps, simply type in "Battery Gunnison." Using the "Bing" directions available here will literally bring you to RIGHT to the Battery. Parking for the Battery is just a short walk away in the adjacent "Gunnison Beach" parking lot, known as “LOT G”. The entrance to the lot is on Gunnison Road, between Magruder Road and Atlantic Drive; the exit for the lot, which is next to the sidewalk that leads to the Battery and the Gunnison Beach Plaza, is at the intersection of Gunnison Road and Atlantic Drive. Seasonal Parking Fees ($15.00) apply to this parking lot between Memorial Day and Labor Day between the hours of 7 am - 4 PM, but parking is always free in the Fort Hancock area, a 5 minute walk away.

Fort Hancock and the Sandy Hook Peninsula

The Army completed purchased of the Sandy Hook peninsula in 1814 with the express intent to fortify the location to protect New York Harbor. Construction of a large masonry fort was begun in 1850. That construction was halted in 1870 pending development of better fortifications designs. The Endicott Board report of 1885 restructured America’s approach to defending its harbors and in the late 1880s construction began at Sandy Hook for the first of these new fortifications structures. This construction would continue at a rapid pace until the early 1920s. It would resume during World War Two, slowing gradually until mid-1944 as Fort Hancock’s focus began to change from Harbor Defense to reception and processing of soldiers returning home from Europe.