The fort was intended to protect New York from attack by sea. When built , it was named Fort Richmond, as was a previous fort on the site. Battery Weed is a four-tiered 19th century fortification guarding the Narrows, the main approach from the Atlantic Ocean to New York City.
Comprised of three levels of enclosed casemates and a top level of gun emplacements exposed to the elements, the fort held about 120 guns. However, rifled artillery developed during the Civil War rendered masonry forts obsolete, so Battery Weed was outdated by the time it was completed.
Fort Wadsworth was an active military base until 1994, operated by the U.S. Navy for its final few years. In 1995, Battery Weed, along with the rest of Fort Wadsworth, was transferred to the care of the National Park Service as part of the Gateway National Recreation Area.