Fort Ruckman was a United States Army Coast Artillery Corps station, in Nahant, located north of Boston, which has the distinction of being the smallest township in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Named after Brigadier General (later Major General in the National Army), John W. Ruckman, its unblemished military history is enviable.
Proposed in 1890, the site’s first use was during the war of 1898, and by the First World War it became the platform for powerful seacoast weaponry, and multi-tasked during the Second World War.
Nahant is the origin of the First World War Navy submarine detector, while countless remote control and electronic experiments took place on its rocky hills between the world wars. During the Second World War, the tiny town in the sea was inundated with the most powerful seacoast weaponry that the United States possessed. Fort Ruckman was the heart of all military systems not only in Nahant but all stations north up through the New Hampshire border. During the Cold War, Fort Ruckman served as headquarters for supersonic Nike-Ajax missile systems. Today, a walkway, a concrete block, a length of fence – and an underground monolith – are all that remain of Fort Ruckman and thousands of men stationed there.
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Captain Gerald W. Butler, of the Massachusetts State Guard, is the former curator of Fort Warren and Fort Independence, Boston Harbor, and Fort Rodman, New Bedford, Massachusetts. He has published six books and numerous periodicals on seacoast fortifications and served as a military consultant to military museums and state parks. He was the former historian for United States Navy mine warfare units in New England, and his illustrations of seacoast weaponry and fortifications are published worldwide. He served in the elite United States Regular Army’s Intelligence Security Agency’s Special Operations Unit at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Shemya Island, Alaska.