Red Head Battery

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Red Head Battery (1864-1890s) - Red Head Battery was a Canadian earthworks coastal six gun battery near present day Red Head, New Brunswick, Canada. Deactivated in 1890s but the guns were not removed until early World War II.

Red Head Battery Gun Emplacement, Partridge Island in the Background.
Red Head Battery Magazine Interior.
Red Head Battery Magazine.

History

Part of the Harbor Defense of Saint John.

Red Head Battery Gun Emplacement.

Saint John was the east coast port of a Grand Communications Route into the interior of present day Canada. The port had to be well defended or interior Canada could be cut off during the winter months. In 1861, as a part of this defense, it was recommended that new heavy seacoast batteries should be constructed at Red Head on the east side of the harbor and Negro Point on the west side. At that point in history America was considered the enemy and the most likely to attack Canada.

The battery at Red Head was planned to mount ten heavy guns in a dog-leg shaped battery. The guns in the battery were to be emplaced in groups of two with magazines between each group. Six guns were to faced east towards Partridge Island. At the southern end of the battery, the other four guns would have angled inland to engage ships approaching from the southeast. In the end, only the six emplacements facing east were built along with two brick lined magazines.

The parapets of the new batteries were thirty feet thick, rising eight feet above the floor of the gun positions. The guns were fired through embrasures cut in the parapet, the faces of which were reinforced with local stone and capped with brick. This design presented only a small opening to seaward, covering the crews during loading and firing. A earth covered masonry “expense” magazine was built between each pair of guns. These magazines also created a protective traverse between each pair of emplacements, to protect gun crews against shells fired up the length of the battery.

By early 1866, Red Head Battery was finished except for the hardware necessary to mount the guns but it still did not have any guns. In the spring of 1878, it was finally armed with four outdated smoothbore 32-pounders. The 32-pounders remained at Red Head until they were scrapped during World War II.

Current Status

Red Head Battery Magazine, Bug Suit Required!

No period guns or mounts in place. The emplacements and at least one magazine can be visited by walking across a field from the road to the crest of the cliff overlooking the harbor entrance. When visited in mid June 2013, the battery was overgrown and difficult to access. One of the magazines was open with some signs of graffiti, some trash and damage. The gun emplacements were overgrown and difficult to make out but the original stone walls can be seen as well as the embrasure cuts. A picture of a 32-pounder on a rotting wood carriage can be seen here on page 12 (original page 16).

Note: As you cross the field moving toward the battery I found it necessary to wear my full body bug suit as the flies and mosquitos were very bothersome.


Location: Red Head, New Brunswick, Canada.

Maps & Images

Lat: 45.25269 Long: -66.01642

See Also:

Sources:

  • Sarty, Roger, Saint John’s Red Head Battery: A Forgotten Military Artifact of Confederation, Canadian Military History: Vol. 16: Iss. 2, Article 2, 2007. Available at: http://scholars.wlu.ca/cmh/vol16/iss2/2

Links:

Visited: 19 Jun 2013


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