In 1872, the Federal Government acquired the land to build an additional fort to aid in the protection of the harbour of Portsmouth, NH. The plans called for a combination earthwork / concrete battery comprised of 12 guns. The parapet and gun platforms were finished, as well as 2 magazines when work stopped. Work resumed, briefly, in 1879, stopped again, and all construction abandoned.
In 1899, new batteries began construction to help protect the Naval Shipyard. Named Fort Foster in 1900 after Civil War Brevet Major General John G. Foster of New Hampshire, this was to become a subpost of Fort Constitution on the other side of the bay.
Battery Bohlen was completed in 1902 and consisted of three Model 1896 rifled guns, which were 10" breech-loading. Battery Chapin was completed in 1904 and added two 3" shielded Model 1902 guns.
In 1909, a two-story wooden mine observation tower was built behind Battery Chapin. It was used in conjunction with similar towers at other forts, to triangulate the exact position of vessels in the harbour.
In 1917, during World War I, all three guns from Battery Bohlen were removed to be shipped to France. They were never sent, however, and remounted to their original places by 1920. They never operated correctly again, however, and by 1940, one was completely useless and unserviceable.
In 1920, along with the return of the three 10" guns, a Coincidence Range Finder was constructed on top of Battery Chapin.
By 1940, with World War II raging in Europe, it was recommended that a new battery be constructed. Additional land was purchased in 1942, and construction began. The new battery was to equipped with M1 6" shielded guns. It was completed in 1944, but then promptly decommissioned.
In 1942, Battery Bohlen was decommissioned and scrapped. A year later, an Anti Motor Torpedo Boat (AMTB) battery was built in front of the former Battery Bohlen. It remained at that location until 1946. It was equipped with two shielded 90mm M1 guns, two mobile 90mm M1A1 guns, and four 50 caliber heavy machine guns.
In 1948, the fort was closed. It soon became a recreational area for the US Navy before being transferred to the Town of Kittery. The town filled in the lower levels of Battery Bohlen with soil in the late 1980's.
I have to admit to a large degree of disappointment when I visited this place. Disappointment mixed with perhaps even astonishment. The grounds had been turned into a public beach where people, largely ignoring the concrete structures, were sun-bathing, swimming, playing Frisbee, etc. All great pastimes, of course, but on such a place as this, it seemed to me almost offensive.
Then came the worst offense of all. They had turned the massive concrete observation post into a public washroom. For some reason, all of this just struck me as disrespectful to the people who served here protecting their country.