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Attractions / Fort Taber Park
Fort Taber Park is the City of New Bedford's newest park, and one of its largest. Located on Clark's Point at New Bedford's southern-most tip, this 47-acre park offers something for everyone. The park features important historical landmarks, as the site's former use as a military reservation dates back to the American Revolution.
Fort Taber Park Map
click image to enlarge map
Fort Taber Playground

The park's proximity to the sea on all three sides offers visitors sweeping views of Buzzards Bay and the Elizabeth Islands. Stereo binoculars mounted along the paved walk/bike paths allow visitors the opportunity to view close-up the 270-degree panorama of the city's outer harbor, Clark's Cove, Buzzards Bay, and the myriad fishing vessels inbound and outbound from New Bedford, America's #1 top dollar commercial fishing port.

History of Fort Taber Park Landmarks
The Old Stone Fort; "Fort Taber"
In 1840, when a Board of Engineers met in Boston to plan a defense operation of the Atlantic Coast, New Bedford was considered important because of its fine harbor and industrial base. Major R. Delafield, (considered the "Father of America Seacoast Artillery") and Captain Robert E. Lee (later to become Commander-in-Chief of the Confederate Land Forces) drew up plans for a granite fortress at Clark's Point. The amount of $50,000 was authorized for the construction of a pentagonal-shaped, three-tier fort, which was designed for 70 guns. In 1857, the government paid $7000 for Edward Wing Howland's farm as the site for the fort. Building began in 1857 after construction of a stone pier on the east side of the Point, used for unloading the granite. Old whale ships were used to transport the stone from Sullivan, Maine. At the outbreak of the Civil War, the fort's walls had only a few courses in place. Henry Martyn RobertOn May 1, 1862, Lt. Henry Martyn Robert (author of Robert's Rules of Order) was appointed Superintendent of Construction. The first cannon were installed in 1863. In June 15, 1869, a lighthouse was built on the northeast bastion to replace the original Clark's Point Light. The end of the Civil War in 1865 rendered the stone fort obsolete and by 1871, its construction was halted. The third tier was never completed and the unused blocks may still be seen along the shore. The Army officially named the fort in honor of New Bedford native, Lt. Colonel Logan Rodman, of the 38th Massachusetts Infantry, who fell at the head of his Regiment in the assault on Port Hudson, LA in 1863. However, during its construction, the fort was locally dubbed "Fort Taber" after Isaac C. Taber, New Bedford's Mayor during the Civil War. To this day, local residents call it Fort Taber. Although the fort never "saw the flame of battle," it served as a deterrent to those who may have envisioned New Bedford and its valuable whaling fleet as a rich target.

Inside stone fort at Ft TaberFort Taber is currently closed to the public awaiting interior restoration, pending federal and state grant opportunities. Visitors may peer into the fort quad via holes in the gun casements on the fort's east face. Restoration in 2001of Clark's Point Lighthouse atop the fort, (which stands independent of the fort's earthen roof), concluded the city's initial phase of exterior work to the fort. Total refurbishment of the fort's interior and repairs to its roof is tentatively scheduled for completion by 2005-2006.

The Earthen Works Fort
An earthen works fortress was the original Fort Taber. Though long removed, its exact location is known because of the detailed map, which was rendered by Captain Henry Martyn Robert, Superintendent of Construction for the Stone Fort, which replaced it. Captain Robert later gained fame for his definitive book on parliamentary procedure, Robert's Rules of Order. At the outbreak of the War Between the States, the stone fortress was only a small number of courses in height. The concerned citizens and whaling merchants of New Bedford, with the support of Mayor Isaac C. Taber, rebuilt the an earthen works battery and equipped it with the old battery of three cannons and added two cannons from Fort Phoenix in Fairhaven. On May 11, 1861, it was dedicated and named in honor of Mayor Taber. The earthen works fortress boasted three 24-pound smoothbore coastal cannons and two 12- pound rifled cannons, all of which were mounted upon wooden barbette carriages.

Fort Taber

The New Bedford Home Guard was stationed at the fort from 1861 to 1862, when the massive stone fort, which locals continued to refer to as Fort Taber, replaced it. The U.S. Army never recognized the name "Fort Taber." However, in 1898 it named the military reservation at Clark's Point, including the stone fort, in honor of Civil War hero and New Bedford native, Lt. Colonel Logan Rodman.

The Post Exchange Building; "P-28"
The Post Exchange Building was constructed in 1906, as part of the Endicott-Taft period of strengthening the nation's coastal fortifications. It was constructed according to a standardized plan produced by the quartermaster general's office. "P-28" is typical of such buildings except for its wood frame construction, for most contemporary buildings erected at New England coastal forts were made of brick. The Post Exchange Building originally had an office, reading room, store, lunchroom kitchen, billiard room, several storerooms, and a bowling alley. The building continued to be designated a Post Exchange through the 1930's. In 1941, it was described as "Regimental Headquarters". In 1945, it became the " Non-Commissioned Officer's Club".

Old Ft Taber Post Exchange BuildingThe Post Exchange Building is one of three original military buildings remaining from the Fort Rodman era and is the most historically significant extant wood structure. In 1990, the City of New Bedford began its efforts to renovate the Post Exchange Building as part of the new Fort Taber Park plan following guidelines established by the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation and the Massachusetts State Historic Preservation Office. The building was moved to its present location in 1996 were it was restored and partially modified for its new uses and as an important feature of Fort Taber Park.

The Two East Batteries
Battery Walcott
This large battery on the east side of Fort Taber was named in honor of Col. William Walcott, who served during the civil war. The battery operated into WW II. By late 1942, with the fading threat of a coastal invasion, Battery Walcott was declared surplus, and its guns were removed. It is a twin of Battery Barton, located on the west side of Fort Taber.

Battery Gaston
This battery is a small emplacement located between Battery Walcott and Fort Taber. It was named in honor of 2ND Lieutenant William Gaston, of the First U.S. Dragoons, who was killed in action on may 17, 1858, while fighting the Spokane Indians on the Snake River, Washington Territory. It was equipped with rapid-fire guns to defend the harbor mine fields.

The Three West Batteries
Battery Cross Located to the immediate west of Fort Taber, this battery was named in honor of Captain Charles E. Cross, U.S. Engineers, brevet colonel, U.S. Army, who was killed in action during the Civil War at the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, on June 5, 1863. The battery was equipped with two 5-inch rapid-fire guns whose primary use was intended to counter enemy invasions via amphibious landings.

Battery Craig
Located immediately west of Battery Cross, this small battery was named in honor of 2nd Lieutenant Presley O. Craig, 2nd U.S. Artillery. A Massachusetts native, Lt. Craig was killed in action at the Battle of Bull Run, Virginia, on July 21, 1861. It was equipped with two 3-inch rapid-fire guns for general harbor defense. Its guns were removed in the 1920's.
Battery Barton

Named in honor of Col. William Barton, who served which distinction in the Revolutionary War, this battery is a reverse plan of Battery Walcott to the east. It was armed with an 8-inch disappearing gun identical with that of Battery Walcott. By late 1942, with the fading threat of invasion of the Continental United States, Battery Barton was declared surplus. Its guns were removed and scrapped in early 1943.

Battery Milliken - The Northwest Battery
This battery was named in honor of WWI hero, 2nd Lieutenant Alfred W. Milliken, 6th Army Engineers. A New Bedford native, Milliken was the first officer from the city to die in WWI. He was killed in action on May 30, 1918 at Warfusse-Abancourt Villars in France, at the battlefront of the German army's spring offensive. Milliken was awarded a Alfred Millikenposthumous citation by Gen. John J. Pershing for "distinguished and exceptional gallantry." More than 10,000 people attended the dedication ceremonies in 1920 when this Battery was named in Lt. Milliken's honor. The battery was completed in the early 1920's and housed two immense 12-inch rifles that had a range of 16 miles and provided protection for all of Buzzards Bay. Battery Milliken also featured underground magazines and a generating plant. It was the first barbette battery erected in New England. In 1935, the battery was modified to meet bombproof specifications and maintained well over sixteen feet of re-enforced concrete and tons of earth over each gun for protection against air and sea bombardment.
The range of Battery Milliken was 29,300 yards at 45 degrees elevation and encompassed a portion of the Elizabeth Island Group and the Southern approach to the Cape Cod Canal.
All five batteries of the Fort Taber/Fort Rodman installation are fine examples of the so-called Endicott-Taft Era of Coastal Defenses.

Fort Taber Park, with its buildings, fort and the lighthouse is wholly owned and operated by the City of New Bedford, under the management of the Board of Park Commissioners. Requests for permission to hold public events at city parks and park buildings must be submitted in writing, attention to the Director of Parks, at least eight weeks in advance of an event. For more information, contact the Parks Department: (508) 991-6295.

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