Historic California Posts, Camps,
Stations and Airfields
Fort Rosecrans: Batteries Calef
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
The battery was deactivated in 1943.
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
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.
Completed Works - Seacoast Fortifications