Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Fort Mason: Point San Jose Batteries
West Battery, Point San Jose, October 2000
As an emergency response to the Civil War, the United States Army built a twelve-gun, two battery fortification at the Point San Jose Military Reservation (also known locally as Black Point) in 1864. These two batteries, known as East and West Batteries, Point San Jose, served as a back up to fortifications at Fort Point and Alcatraz.
Each battery was to have six guns. By the end of May 1864 the batteries were considered complete and ready for armament. Six 10-inch Rodmans were mounted in West Battery by June 30, 1864, and six 42-pounder banded rifles were mounted at East Battery, shortly after that date. Mounted on wooden platforms behind brick and earth walls, the 10-inch Rodmans could fire a 124 pound cannonball up to two and a half miles.
In 1869 the U.S. government approved a plan to build a permanent fortification at Point San Jose. The plan called for a large fortification, enclosed by an earthen parapet that included the existing batteries. However, this plan was never a high priority and appropriations were curtailed before construction on the fortification could begin. The "temporary" East and West batteries continued to be the point's only defense for the next 30 years, and rifled Rodmans were emplaced at these batteries during the Spanish American War of 1898.
East Battery was partly demolished in 1911 when the San Francisco Fire Department pump station was built at the foot of the bluff below it. It is estimate about 60% remains buried in the backyard of Fort Mason's Quarters 4 while the West Battery was covered with earth and plantings and lay hidden for 70 years. In 1982 the, donated funds and community support enabled the National Park Service to undertake the excavation and restoration of the West Battery.
East Battery
Fort Mason, Circa 1899-1901, Fourth of July salute from two 8-inch Muzzle Loading Rifles located at Battery West. Lucinda and Danielson Photographic Collection. Golden Gate National Recreation Area Archives, San Francisco,
1864 Battery Plan

1896 Report of Completed Work
Other Online or Printed Histories
Harbor Defenses of San Francisco - A Field Guide 1890 to 1950
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Updated 23 June 2017