Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Fort Rosecrans: Batteries Calef and Wilkeson
 
 
 
Batteries Calef and Wilkeson
by Justtin M. Ruhge

The first battery to be constructed at Point Loma was located just above the original Spanish Battery built in 1796, called Fort Guijarros. The new battery was built of concrete with subterranean magazines and mounted 4 10-inch breech loading rifles on Buffington-Crozier disappearing carriages. Work began in 1897 and was completed in 1898. The work was supervised by First Lieutenant James J. Meyler, CE who reported to the Pacific Division Engineer in San Francisco until December 31,1898 when the Los Angeles District Engineer Office was established to oversee military construction and civil works in Southern California.
 
When completed, the battery was named in honor of Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Bayard Wilkeson, an artilleryman killed at Gettysburg, July 1, 1863.
 
In 1915, the battery was divided, the two guns on the right flank retained the name Wilkeson, and the two on the left were named in honor of Colonel John H. Calef, another artilleryman who had fought in the Civil War. He retired from the Army in 1900 and died in 1912. In 1940 the batteries were merged again and called Calef-Wilkeson.
 
The cost of the battery was $217,300.
 
Gun No. 1 was Model 1895 No. 8 made by the Watervliet Arsenal. Gun 2 was Model 1888M1, No. 10 made by the Bethlehem Iron Company. Guns 3 and 4 were Model 1888M1 Nos. 10 and 4 made by the Watervliet Arsenal. The carriages were all Model 1896. Gun No. 1 was Serial No. 53 made by the Watertown Arsenal. Guns 2, 3, and 4 were Nos. 7, 5 and 6 respectively and all made by the Niles Tool Works.
 
The 4 10-inch guns were proof-fired in November 1899.
 
The battery was deactivated in 1943.
 
 
 
Photographic Images
 
 
 

 
Upper, view of Battery Wilkerson, January 20, 1903. Note Ballast Point Lighthouse in the background. U.S. Navy Photograph, Code 0273, LRO 239-10-66, San Diego, California. Lower, Battery Calef-Wilkerson just firing. Note that the gun is retracting. Note coincidence rangefinder on the right of the photograph, circa 1916. Courtesy of the San Diego Historical Society, San Diego, CT 4288.
 
 
 
 
Upper, target practice with one of four 10-inch Rifles by the 115th Company, Coast Artillery Corps, 1910. U.S. Navy Photograph, Code 0273, LRO 475-10-66, San Diego, California. Lower, A soldier at the controls of one of the 10-inch Rifles at Battery Wilkeson. U.S. Navy Photograph, Code 0273, San Diego, California.
 
 
 
A World War II aerial photograph of Batter Calef-Wilkeson. In the original photograph, all four of the 10-inch Guns are visible. Note the many new buildings constructed on the 20 Acres of fill dirt dredged from the entrance to the bay. U.S. Navy Photograph Code 0273, LRO 101-04-67, San Diego.
 

 
 
 
 
Upper, one of the four Battery Calef-Wilkeson Gun Emplacements. Middle, overhead rails on which ammunition was moved in the magazines. Lower, hoist mechanism used to lift shells and powder from the magazines to the gun floor. Photographs by Mark Berhow, 1996.
 
 
Report of Completed Works - Seacoast Fortifications
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Updated 23 June 2017