Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Fort Winfield Scott: Battery Boutelle
Battery Boutelle. Image courtesy of National Park Service
Battery Boutelle
by Gordon Chappell, Regional Historian, Pacific West Region, National Park Service
Beginning at the Golden Gate Bridge toll plaza and extending southward along the bluffs at the northwestern edge of the Presidio of San Francisco are five post-Endicott Board (1885) seacoast defense batteries. They include some of the earliest Endicott-type artillery defenses of San Francisco Bay. When begun, and for some time after completion, these batteries remained unnamed, and during construction were known simply by emplacement numbers assigned by the New York Board of Engineers in preparing the first Endicott-type plan for San Francisco Bay in 1890. The defenses of San Francisco were nationally second in priority, preceded only by those of New York Harbor. Sequentially the first five emplacements were to be five 10-inch guns mounted on the bluff above Fort Point. These were never built.
Plans were forwarded to Washington in February 1898 for a battery of four 5-inch rapid fire guns on balanced pillar mounts just south of yet-unnamed Battery Marcus Miller. This was the site of two 1870s-vintage mortar batteries, whose three brick magazines would be useful for various purposes in the new battery. Construction of the two center emplacements was authorized March 8, 1898, and commenced quickly thereafter. A third emplacement was soon added, but the fourth never was. Three guns, all Model 1897, serial numbers 3, 15 and 17, were mounted by mid-1901, and the battery was transferred to the artillery on October 1, 1901. The gun mounts were numbers 13, 12 and 14, respectively, all manufactured by Bethlehem Steel. On October 9, 1902 the battery was named for Lieutenant Henry M. Boutelle, killed in action near Aliago, Philippine Islands, in 1899. The three guns were removed as obsolete in 1917.
Originally Published in 1981 for the annual meeting of the Council on Abandoned Military Posts. Reprinted with permission of the author
Battery Boutelle
by Justin Ruhge
The Pacific Office of the Corps of Engineers forwarded plans to Washington in February 1898 for a battery of four 5-inch rapid-fire breech-loading guns on balanced pillar mounts just south of yet-unnamed Battery Marcus Miller.
This site was located at two 1870s mortar batteries whose three brick magazines could be useful for various purposes in the new battery. Construction of two gun mounts was authorized in March 8, 1898. A third gun mount was added soon thereafter. The fourth gun mount was never built.
Three guns, all Models 1897, serial numbers 3, 25, 17, were mounted by mid-1901. The battery was transferred to the heavy artillery on October 1, 1901. The gun mounts were numbers 13, 12 and 14 respectively. Bethlehem Steel manufactured all.
On October 9, 1902, the battery was named for Lieutenant Henry M. Boutelle, killed in action near Aliago, Philippine Islands, in 1899. The three guns were removed as obsolete in 1917.
Battery Boutelle
by Chuck Wofford
The three rapid fire guns mounted here were Model 1897, numbers 3, 15, and 17 and were manufactured by the Bethlehem Steel Company. The cost of each gun was $6,250.00 and the weight of the gun was 11,120 lbs.
These guns were mounted on Bethlehem Steel Company, Balanced Pillar Mounts, and were Model 1896, serial numbers 13, 14, and 12. The maximum elevation of the guns were 15 degrees. The cost of the carriages was $8,150.00, and the total weight/complete with counterweight weight 48,809 lbs.
This battery was originally planed for four emplacements by Colonel Charles R. Sutter in February 1898, but the #1 or first on the far right was never constructed. Of the many 5-inch weapons included in the Bay Area defenses, there was one unique model that warrants special comments a carriage known as the balanced pillar mount..
Ammunition Service
For guns not larger than 5-inch, the projectiles and the power are ordinarily stored and transported to the gun in the form of complete cartridges, put up in metallic cases similar to the cartridges used in the Infantry rifle. The projectile are stored in rows along the wall of the shell room, The shells for these small caliber guns, were usually issued as fixed ammunition put up in metallic cartridges, and shipped to the battery in wooden boxes or cases containing several rounds. It is kept in the form that it was received until just before it was to be used, when the boxes are broken open.
Its storage, therefore consisted simply piling up the boxes in the most convenient arrangement. The ammunition supply for this battery was stored in the three magazines, which measured 13.3' x 25'.
The total weight of the cartridge was 84 pounds, and had a range of 12,920 yards.
This battery had been ordered for some time, but plans could not be prepared owing to lack of information regarding the carriages. When this information finally became available, plans were sent on and approved, An allotment of 6,000 was made on June 3 1899 for Emplacement D.
The battery was started on March 16 1898, (Emplacements B and C with the clearing and grading of the site, so the excavation could begin. The excavation started with in the week, and there was a removal of over 959 cubic yards of dirt and sand. Excavation was begun and was completed on May 11 1900 for Emplacement D, also the main road to the battery was repaired, and the work started.
Construction of the forms for this 2 story battery were erected in February. As the excavation was going, the addition of the reinforcement of 9,500 lbs of steel was put in place in the forms.
At this time the concreting was began with over 58,565 gals of concrete used in this battery, work on the center emplacement, Emplacement C was started March 23 1898, and by the end of April the floors , foundation for the platforms, the retaining walls, a relocator room and a passage to the old magazine had all been completed.
The length across the front of this battery was 130' and it was 30' deep, and there was 45' between the guns, beside the magazines as listed above it also had a Relocator Room that was strange shaped, being between what was by then known as Emplacements 1 and 2 at the back of the battery 10' x 10' and a Crow Nest that was 2" x 2' and a new entrance to the Old Magazine # 22.
They were unable to proceed further with the construction until the cylinders for the mounts arrived. As it is necessary to build the foundation cylinders to pivot the guns into the platforms, work could not be carried beyond making the excavation, laying the foundation and completing some portions of the battery, including the concrete work on relocator and entrance to old magazines this work was finished in March of 1898 and remains status quo, the carriages not having been received.
The cylinders for the pillars arrived in January 1901, and the work for completing the battery immediately began. and the concreting completed at the end of March. The refill, the grading and seeding, the cement finishing and the carpentry work were done in April. During May and June the battery was allowed to dry, and in the latter part of June the rooms were whitewashed and the electric wiring put in. The work was completed except putting the surface drain on the exterior slopes, installing two iron ladders, and some minor fixtures. The carriages were mounted, guns not received as of this date.
The cylinders for the pillars arrived in January,1901, and the work of completing the battery immediately began. The forms were erected in February and concreting completed at the end of March, the battery was transferred to the Artillery commander on October 1 1901 at a cost of $27,030.22.
Emplacement A was never built.
This battery was electrified around December of 1902, and used 2.2 kw. Prior to December of 1904 a few small electrical plants installed in some of the batteries at Fort Winfield Scott, after the main power was put in Battery Boutelle got its power through Battery Godfrey.
The remainder of armament was dismantled and salvaged in 1943 under authority contained in letter, Service of Supply, November 19, 1942 (Reference SPX 662 (12 Nov. 42) GB-5 SPDDO subject; Proceedings of the local Harbor Defense Board, October 5 1942, Salvage of obsolete Armament ( Addressed to the Chief of Ordnance) and copy of proceedings of subject board). This is also one of the batteries built on top of the old Battery West , there are still a couple of entrances to be seen around Batteries Boutelle and Battery Miller. Battery Boutelle is strategically located between the 10-inch guns of Battery Marcus Miller and the 12-inch guns of Battery Godfrey. Thus within a few hundred feet there is a dramatic representation to be found of three types of Endocott fortification. It saw service from 1902 to 1917, and still in good shape
Report of Completed Works - Seacoast Fortifications
Report of Completed Works- Seacoast Fortifications: Battery Boutelle
Battery Boutelle Today


 Gun 2's emplacement. October 2000


Battery Boutelle October 2000
Additional Online Histories:
Harbor Defenses of San Francisco - A Field Guide 1890 to 1950
National Park Service
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Updated 23 June 2017