Historic California Posts, Camps,
Stations and Airfields
Fort Barry: Battery Elmer J. Wallace
Entrance to Gun Emplacement
Number 1, October 2000
This battery seems to part of the hillside,
but was originally constructed as an open firing platform in
1919. The Endicott period Model 1895A4 12 inch coastal rifles
mounted on the more modern Model 1917 Carriage extended the range
of the older gun from eight miles to 17 miles.
The battery was named after Colonel Elmer
J. Wallace, a Coast Artillery Officer who was killed in France
The threat of aerial attack led the Army
to develop overhead cover for the battery's two guns. Between
1942 and 1944 the battery was casemated with a steel reinforced
concrete ceiling and covered with blast absorbing earth and camouflaging
By 1948, Battery Elmer J. Wallace was
considered obsolete. The Army abandoned it and scraped its massive
by Justin M. Ruhge
The War Department convened a new "Board
of Review" in 1915 to make recommendations concerning new
armament needed in U.S. coastal defenses. This Board made a comprehensive
report to the Secretary of War on November 26, 1915. Of the several
projected works recommended, the two long-range 12-inch guns
at Fort Barry were the first to be undertaken as a post Endicott
Battery on the west coast. In December 1915 the Board decided
to submit an estimate for this battery with work to begin in
1917. Meanwhile, Colonel Rees had already begun planning the
battery. He selected a site on a flat, sandy hill about 400 feet
southeast of Battery Alexander at an elevation of 240 feet. He
considered this to be an ideal site, with the one exception that
it was close to Battery Alexander.
The battery would have two guns, 420 feet
apart, set out in the open without any parapets or overhead cover.
A casemated structure located between and to the rear of the
two guns contained two plotting rooms, a power plant, a storeroom,
an officer's room and toilet, a switchboard room, and a storage
battery room. Opposite this building on the rear side of the
road was a guardroom and an enlisted men's latrine. Two fire-control
observation stations stood above the plotting rooms. These were
connected by a walk along the top of the rear wall. The magazines
were also located between the two guns in front of the main structure.
Their roofs had 11 feet of concrete and about 5 feet of earth.
The battery cost about $214,158.
Construction of the platforms was completed
in May 1917. The two-barbette carriages Model 1917 were installed
in November. These new types of carriages were partially mounted
below ground allowing the guns to be loaded at ground level.
The carriages were designed to allow the guns to be elevated
to 45 degrees, which allowed them to achieve much improved ranges.
At these elevations the breeches were depressed below ground
level. The Model 1917 carriages were the forerunner of the ultimate
design for the 16-inch guns to follow.
Battery Wallace had its first proof firing
The battery was named in General Orders
63, May 12, 1919 in honor of Colonel Elmer J. Wallace, Coast
Artillery Corps, who died at Somlly, France on November 5, 1918
as a result of wounds received at Fransvaal, Ferme, France.
Due to the growing threat from air attack,
the guns at Battery Wallace were casemated, the work beginning
in May 1943. This modernization program cost $761,000. The battery
was again transferred to the troops on March 31, 1944. At this
time the guns were also provided with steel shields.
The armament for this battery was scrapped
by Chuck Wofford
This battery was named n GO 63, May 12,
1919, in honor of Col Elmer J. Wallace Coast Artillery Corps,
who died at Somlly France November 5, 1918, as a result of wounds
received at Fransvaal Ferme, France, Oct 29th 1918, while on
duty with the 57th Artillery, C.A.C.
This battery was armed with 2-12-inch
B.L..Gun, Model 1895M1 no 61 and 75, manufactured by Watervliet
Arsenal. The distance between the guns was 420 feet. Originally
# 68 was installed, but was damaged during proof firing in 1928
and was replaced with #75 in 1929. The guns cost $50,000.00,
and weighted 144700 lbs and had a range of 29,300 yards and there
were 34 manufactured.. This was one of the few batteries that
had spare tubes, Model 1895 MIA-2 # 44 and 63.
These gun's were mounted on a Barbette
carriage Model # 1917 nos. 2 & 3, later changed to a 1919
MI, which was a high elevation, carriage, that did not need a
hoist like most of the Barbette carriages to do the loading.
These were manufactured by the Watertown Arsenal and it also
had the longest range of all the batteries at Fort Barry, (29,300).
The carriage cost $42,800.00. There were 32 built: Original emplacements:
22 US, 8 Terr, 6 relocations Time of emplacements: 1917-1922,
relocations 1940-1943 Number of Bolts:12 inner, 24 outer Circle
Diameter: 12' 1" inner 17' 0.5" outer.
The following information on the Gun Model
1895M1 #61 and 75:
Emplacement # 1 the reference height of
the crest 239.2= and Emplacement #2=239.7 above mean low water.
Gun #1 Model 1895M1 Serial #61 was mounted
and emplaced 1918 under the supervision of the Ordnance Dept,
the limits of elevation of gun as mounted and emplaced was 15o
and the depression was. and the number of shots fired were 181.
Gun #2 Model 1895M1 Serial #75 was mounted
and emplaced in 1918 under the supervision of the Ordnance Dept.
The limits of elevation of gun as mounted and emplaced was 15o
and the depression was. and the number of shots fired were 220.
The movement of ammunition must be very
rapid and it is the duty of the Engineer Department to so design
it emplacement that each and every step of the ammunition service
may be performed with such speed that the ammunition can be carried
to the breech of the gun at least as rapidly as it can be loaded
into the gun and fired; The projectile are stored in rows and
the shells were stacked in two rows down the middle of the shell
room, the shell for these gun weighted 2,400 lbs. There were
trolley rails fastened to the ceilings over the center of gravity
of the shells in each row, the form of trolley used in this battery
was a simple I beam attached to the ceiling by bolts throughout
an upper flange, this form consisted of a pair of wheels running
on the lower flange on either side of the beam and held together
by a U-shaped yoke hanging down under the beam, the wheels were
in tandem, was used in the battery. This trolley system had switches
so that trolley may be sent over either one of two alternative
routes, with theses switches the main track extended from casemate
1 through the main corridor to casemate 2, with a side track
to each of the shell rooms. A second overhead track extended
from the shell room to the corresponding gun that the served.
The switches were so arranged that the hoist could operate between
any one of the shell rooms and either gun or between shell rooms.
The switches were hand operated from overhead chains. It was
desired that the chain hoists should be storied in the shell
room when not in use.
The ammunition supply for this battery
was stored in the shell room which was 10' x 101', and two were
13' X 32' (there were 3 of them) and held 210, in each room.
The size of the powder
magazine was 12'-6" X 50' (there
was four), and had a 12' X 68', and held 243 in each room, there
were Gallery on the sides of the Shell and Powder Rooms, with
a long gallery 14'-6" X 128' across the back of them, in
between the two small powder rooms was the Power Room which was
16' X 31', and inside it was a small Radiator Room.. The battle
allowance for this battery was 300, and it's war reserve was
400. The shell and powder were located between the two guns,
there roofs had 11 feet of concrete, and in addition, not less
that 5 feet of earth. Larger amounts could be put in the shell
and power rooms, by stacking higher or closer together. The Yale-Towne
block and the Ordnance shell tongs which were the standards in
most of the batteries of the SFHD.
As far as Powder Service, the powder was
shipped to the battery in metal cases and stored in racks, that
they were shipped in, in most cases, there ends projecting into
the passageway. When a cartridge was desired the solder strip
was to be pulled of without moving the cartridge case from the
rack, this loosens the top of the case and the cartridge is then
pulled out, leaving the case still fastened in it proper place.
All the powder is know carried in a handbarrow, by four men.
December 1915 the Board of Review decided
to submit an estimate for this battery in 1917, and it was allotted
Construction of this battery started in
1917, with the clearing and grading of the site, they used steam
shovel, plow and scrapers, so the excavation could start, with
the removal of 31244 cu. yds. of sand and dirt (21,038 for gun
plugs, 19,400 for magazines & service rooms, 55 splinter
proof, 217 for guard room), as this was being done the forms
were started where the excavation was finished. On the timber
used in making the forms, in all cases dressed lumber will be
used. As the forms were finished the iron and steel, in the form
of I beams for reinforcing ceilings, and in columns for supporting
ceilings, for reinforcing concrete, reformed bars were used.
The reinforcing steel will be measured by the pound in place
and ready for pouring concrete and will include allowance for
minimum laps, splices and hooks, if any item needs to be embedded
in the concrete such as bolts, anchor, pipes or other embedded
items are firmly and securely fastened in place indicated on
the plans, and they should be clean and free from rust, scale,
oil, or other foreign matters, in this battery there was over
129,265 lbs of reinforcement.
After the forms were going in place the
pouring of the concrete was started, at this time only the gun
plugs were poured, construction of the platforms was reported
as "nearly" completed in May of 1917. The balance was
done a year later. It is certain however that prior to mid-1919
no construction was carried out except the gun emplacement themselves.
The concrete was all machine mixed, and there was 10847 yards
used in the complete battery, there was also a large amount of
finishing cement. This work was finished and was ready for the
mounting of the gun's and carriage's at the end of FY.
The final parts of building a battery
is the using of sand on the front and flanks of the lower floor
of batteries, the sand was filled in front of the concrete, (Horizontal
protection, front of magazine, 15 feet of concrete, 45 feet of
sand; equivalent to 30 feet of concrete - Horizontal protection
front of gun, 15 feet of concrete, 40 feet of sand; equivalent
to about 28 1/2 feet of concrete- Vertical cover over magazine,
10 feet of concrete) then when a shell was fired at the battery
it has been found that a projectile entering a mass of sand appears
to have a tendency to deflect upward and to leave the sand with
out penetrating very far, the exception is the blast apron, which
is made of concrete, and immediately in front of the gun, they
had to be layered very carefully, or the would be blown away.
In this battery there was used over 15,000 cubic yards of backfill.
This battery was 560' across the front,
and 200' deep, and having 425' between the guns, it also had
two Store Rooms, that were 14' X 19' and two Plotting Rooms,
which were 17' X 21' and a C.O. Room, that was 14' X 24' and
a Latrine, that was 14' X 24' and one Officer's Latrine, which
was 6' X8' there were also two small rooms, beside each gun emplacement,
which were 10' X 23, the gun emplacements, themselves were 30ï¿½
9" X 52' and two B.C. for each gun, that were connected
to the gun emplacement, by, a gun phone, to bell, range board
and a check back phone there also were several room on the back
side of the battery, where the back door is, that were most likely,
Guard Room, Tool Rooms, there was also a passageway leading into
the back of each gun that was 10' X 74', also a new North was
added , by taking out the old wall and moving it back 5 feet
to make a passageway to the various rooms, the total cost for
the above work was $22,245.00,
When the structure is completed the district
Engineer officer prepares the so called "transfer drawing"
then the Engineer officer and the local Coast Artillery officer,
make an inspection of the structure, and all was in order the
keys are transferred to the Artillery commander. This battery
was completed 1921, and transferred on June 24 1921 at a cost
The 2nd transferred was on November 16
1943 at a cost of $758,241.00, by the District Engineer and was
found to be in satisfactory condition and suitable for the purpose
intended, and is accepted for the use and care of troops.
The power for this battery had two G.E.
power generating sets, G.E. 25 K.W. that was installed June 29,
1921 for the purpose of supplying of lights and power to the
entire battery. The motor generator were # 189030 and # 923974,
and the Engine were # 5474 & 17492, 10.24 was required for
light and 14.92 required for motors, these engines are four cycle,
four cylinder, single acting vertical type. They are directly
connected to a generator, type M.P.C. class 6-25 K.W.-560 R.P.M.,
and are each capable of operating its generator at full load
indefinitely, and at 25% overload for two hours, furnishing in
each case 2.5 K.W. additional for operating radiator fans. Installation
of plants at Battery Wallace was completed and turned over June
29, 1921. In 1943 the new electric power plant D.C. also post
power (AG) & new stand by, that was installed (OCEorORD)
ORD , 120 voltage D.C., K.W. required for utilities 30 K.W. and
max. for non battle condition 30 K.W. also some commercial power
provided 45 K.W.
This battery has one thing that none of
the rest had, and that was spare tube, Model 1895M-2 # 44 and
63, these tubes were not mounted.
The galleries provided for mechanical
indicators, along with steel work, plumbing, electric, speaking
tubes, it was connected to water and sewer, with the data transmission
by telephone and speaking tube and a siphon latrine, and was
ventilated by natural draft and it's trunnion in both emplacement
was 239.25, datum plane is M.L.L.W., and the Traverse in Azimuth
Two B.C. stations (BC1 and BC2) stood
above the plotting room these were connected by a walk along
the top of the rear wall. This battery also needed 5 fire stations
to be located between San Pedro Point to the South and Gull Rock
to the North the B.C. were standard concrete structures located
at the battery at an elevation of 255 feet, B1S1 was double dug
in concrete station located at Fort Barry at an elevation of
358 feet, B2S2 was to be built at Fort Miley by the Golden Gate
Bridge Company as a double concrete at an elevation of 360 Feet,
B3S3 was a single dug in concrete station at Fort Funston at
an elevation of 204 feet,(this station was to be enlarged to
add a spotting instrument) B4S4 a double dug in concrete station
was Frank Valley at an elevation of 482 feet, B5S5 was a double
dug in type on Point Bonita at an elevation of 85 feet (this
station would serve as a low fog station and as a Point Bonita
station in case of damage to B1S1). This battery had two plotting
rooms both inside the battery one had a cloke plotting board
the other M1918 plotting board.
In May 14 1948, it was considered obsolete
and was scrapped. This battery saw service from 1921 to 1948.
Battery Elmer J.
Wallace circa 1938. National Archives and Records Administration.
Circa October 2000
Battery Elmer J. Wallace
from Battery Mendell. The administrative area for San Francisco
Defense Area Site ST-88 is in the foreground. It is now a YMCA
facility. October 2000. Much of the landscape as since burned
of during a wildfire as well as the National Park Serivce's historic