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.
Early in 1892 excavation began for emplacements
14, 15 and 16 of the 1890 plan, to mount three 12-inch rifles
on barbette carriages. Three old magazines of Battery West dating
from the 1870s were broken up to be embedded in the new concrete,
but four others were left intact Battery Godfrey was finished
in 1896, the first Endicott-type battery to be completed in the
defenses of San Francisco Bay. It was transferred to the heavy
artillery on August 19, 1896. Its Model 1888 breech-loading rifles
were all manufactured at Watervliet Arsenal, serial numbers 9,
6 and 4, and were mounted on Watertown Arsenal non-disappearing
or 'barbette' carriages serial numbers 6, 3 and 2, respectively.
The battery was named on February 14, 1902 in honor of Captain
George J. Godfrey, 22nd Infantry, killed in action at Cavite
on Luzon in the Philippine Islands in 1899. Like Battery Cranston's
'disappearing' guns, the guns at Battery Godfrey were in place
throughout World War I, two decades of peace, and over a year
of World War II before being removed in 1943.
Gun Number 1. Photgraph courtesy of Craig Hegdahl
by Justin M. Ruhge
Early in 1891 excavation began for three
12-inch breech-loading rifles mounted on barbette carriages.
Three old magazines of Battery West dating from the 1870s were
broken up to be embedded in the new concrete. Four others were
left intact and still exist today.
Battery Godfrey was finished in 1896 -
the first Endicott-type battery to be completed in the defense
of San Francisco Bay.
Battery Godfrey was transferred to the
heavy artillery on August 19, 1896. Its Model 1888 breech loading
rifles were all manufactured at Watervliet Arsenal and were serial
numbers 9, 6 and 4. They were mounted on Watertown Arsenal barbette
carriages serial numbers 6, 3 and 2 respectively.
The battery was named on February 14,
1902 in honor of Captain George J. Godfrey, 22nd Infantry, killed
in action at Cavite on Luzon in the Philippine Islands in 1899.
Like Battery Cranston's Buffington-Crozier
guns, the guns at Battery Godfrey were in place throughout World
War I, two decades of peace, and over a year of World War II
before being removed in 1943.
During the years in which new Endicott-type
batteries were being constructed, five 1870s guns continued to
be mounted in Battery East.
gun number 2 and crew. Photgraph courtesy of Bolling Smith
by Chuck Wofford
Was named in GO 16 February 14 1902 in
honor of Capt. George J. Godfrey, 22nd US Infantry who was killed
in action at Cavite Island of Luzon in the Philippine Islands
in June 3 1899. Graduated from west point 1886. 2nd Lieutenant
12th Infantry , July 1 1886. 1st Lieutenant 22nd Infantry, 1
February 1 1893. Captain March 2 1899. Born in New York, Appointed
from New York
This battery was armed with three 12-inch
guns breech loading rifles, Model 1888, nos 4, 6, and 9, and
were manufactured at Waterviet Arsenal. The gun cost $36,300.00,
there were 66 manufactured.
These guns were mounted on Watertown Arsenal
Barbette Carriages Model 1892: # 2 and 3 and 6. The carriage
As to ammunition storage and service,
this battery had a Shell Room and a Powder Room. 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; and so
the rate of fire which can be obtained from the gun be limited
by consideration other that the functioning of the portion of
the ammunition service for which the Engineer Department is responsible.
The form of a trolley used in this battery are four wheeled travelers,
running on the lower flanges of I-beams suspended from the ceiling
of the shot room and passages, each trolley carried a half ton
Yale-Weston triplex block, the shells were then taken to the
hoist, and unloaded on to the receiving table, where they were
taken on a truck furnished by the Ordnance Dept that carried
the projectiles from the hoist to be loaded into the gun.. As
to vertically movement of the shell, an appliance for seizing
hold of the shell, they used a tongs, which looked like a pair
of ice tongs, except there were three rather they two, two on
one side and one on the other. These tongs are used with the
Yale-Towne block and the Ordnance shell tongs which the standards,
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, the powder is carried
in a handbarrow, by four men, and is taken to the breach of the
gun. The ammunition supply for this battery was stored in the
shell room which was 11 x 19'-6" (there were 3 of them)
and held 132,in each room, The size of the powder magazine was
8' x 19'-6" and held 105 charge capacity rounds. The battle
allowance for this battery was 300, and it's war reserve was
300. Larger amounts could be put in the shell and power rooms,
by stacking higher or closer together.
In the allotments for the year 1892, the
working drawings for this battery were given to the Corps of
Engineers for the construction to start.
The site was graded and clear in a few
days and then the excavation started for the foundation and the
gun blocks, approximately 5,500 cu yd of dirt and sand were removed,
most of it was a yellow clay, which yields readily when wet.
Owing to this condition particular care was used to drain the
As the excavation proceeded the forms
were constructed for the battery, I have been told that the piles
for the gun block had to be driven because of the unstable earth
and clay at the site.
Before the concrete can be poured all
the iron and steel, must be placed in the forms, I beams for
reinforcing ceilings, and in columns for supporting ceilings,
for reinforcing concrete, they used wire mesh, steel bars, trolley
tracks. The masonry contains several tons of street-car rail,
arranged in circular folds and old street-car rails disposed
in horizon, over 17,000 lbs of reinforcing bars were used.
The circumference of the lower plane of
the concrete was surrounded by an open drain of concrete covered
with gravel which removed any water that might, if not removed,
impair the resistance of the ground. This battery required nearly
10,800 cu yd of concrete. As the excavation began on three emplacements
14, 15 and 16 for the three 12-inch guns, three old magazine
of Battery West dating from the 1870s were broken up and embedded
in the new concrete, but four others were left intact.
In fiscal year 1895, the first platform for a 12-inch gun anywhere
in the nation was constructed on the left flank of Battery Godfrey.
This was the second and largest of all the gun batteries to be
constructed in the United States.
The neck of the roller path was filled
with concrete, giving additional power of resistance, and relieving
to a certain extent the hold down bolts pf aluminum bronze. The
connection of this concrete with the mass of the platform was
strengthened by placing of two old gun pintles vertical, and
facing them with an iron plate. It was the intention to give
this platform all the strength obtainable at no great expense.
During the year drawings of the platform
for emplacement #16 were received, which enabled the emplacement
to be finished. In detail, the following work was done: The gap
left in the parapet was filled in with 157 cubic yards of concrete,
a circular recess 2'x6" having been first cut away to receive
the platform. A concrete landing 6'x8' was built in front of
the magazine door. The floor of this landing is 1 foot below
the level of the terreplein and divided from it by retaining
walls 1 foot high. A curved ramp4 feet wide, slope 1/10, connects
the landing with the terreplein, up which the shot truck will
pass. A concrete foundation averaging 8" thick was laid
upon the superior slope for a distance of 25 feet from the muzzle
of the gun and between the limiting horizontal angles of fire
On #14 and #15 where changed after the experience with the apron
on #16, that it might safely be reduced in extent to 15 feet
from the muzzle of the gun between the horizontal limits of fire
and are 2 feet thick immediately under the muzzle, diminishing
to one foot at the edges.
The terreplein was filled in to grade
and cover about 6 inches of macadam. A ramp of 1/8 and 8 feet
wide was built around the left end of the terreplein, connecting
it with the road in the rear of the emplacement. In this fiscal
year 1895, one emplacement and the platforms are essentially
completed, and the gun mounted. An ammunition hoist and conveyor
are to furnished. The second emplacement and it platform will
be finished in the coming fiscal. The gun and carriage for this
platform are on the ground, the construction for the rest of
the battery awaits the testing of the platform already built,
which is the first one of it class which has been constructed
During the early part of 1896 the authority
for the construction of the two remaining platforms of this battery
was obtained, and they were accordingly constructed. That in
# 14 rest on a clay foundation and is 17 feet high that in #15
rest on a foundation of soft rock and is 141/2 feet high.
These platforms are built similarly in
all respects to the one built in emplacement #16, the year before.
Radiating bars of flat railroad iron are placed in layers at
vertical intervals of 2 feet with spiral coils of old cable alternating
with layers of rails. The lower portion of the platforms was
made a 12-sided polygon changing to a circle of required radius
2 feet from the top. The concrete used in these platforms is
a little richer than that used in the mass of the parapet and
was laid with care. The lower roller path was set on it platform
in emplacement #15, after which the artillery of the Presidio
mounted the carriage and gun.
The terrepleins of emplacement #14 and
#15 were filled in, chiefly with borrowed earth, and macadamized
with 6 inches of broken stone. The slopes were all sodded, a
set of concrete steps were built in emplacement 14 and 15, connecting
the roadway and terrepleins, a ramp 8 feet wide, slope 1 on 6,
was also built in #15 connecting the road and terreplein. With
.the masonry completed, and the platforms built, and there parapets,
aprons and magazines of all three emplacement were covered with
a 3" layer of asphalt.
A second 12" gun has been mounted,
and the 12" mounted last year has been fired 17 times. The
magazines have been covered with asphalt, the installation of
the ammunition conveyors and hoist were installed in all three
emplacement during this year completed. This battery used over
9899 cu yds of backfill and top fill All the engineering work
of the 12-inch emplacement is complete, except setting the base
ring in #14, which can not be done until the carriage is received.
In 1897 , the macadam terrepleins were removed and concrete pavement
substituted. A guard and relocator room with observation station,
speaking tubes, and is in the process of construction and nearly
completed at Emplacement #14.
This two story battery was 490 ' across,
and 68 ' deep and there was 165 ' between the guns, there was
an angle in this battery, also beside the Shell and Powder Rooms,
this battery had 3 Hoist Rooms 2 were 17' X 38 and the one in
emplacement #3 was 16' X 38", these rooms were where the
shells and powder can from the shell and powder room to be loaded
on to the hoist which was in the middle of the room, there was
also a Power Room 15' X 20' and an Oil Room that was 14' X 16,
under and in the left side of emplacement # 1, was a room called
the Telephone booth which was 1' X 12' and behind the Oil Room
was a Latrine that was 21' X 10', and behind the Engine Room
was the Radiator room that was 6' X 6' and one small Store Room
near # 1. This battery was completed in, 1896, and transferred
on August 19 1896 a cost of $299,661.53.
This battery was electrified around December
of 1904, it required 5.1 kw for light and 16.8 for the hoist
and motors. It had two 25 K.W., 235-volt, a standard Engineer
Department gasoline sets: one set intended for use and one as
a reserve unit, the two to be used alternately: were to be installed
in a new engine room constructed in the traverse at the left
flank of Emp #3, of Battery Boutelle: to supply current to Battery
Godfrey, including B' Godfrey. In 1910 there was a central power
plant installed in a new concrete building on the site of the
old Battery Dynamite.
It's B.C. and B1 was a double concrete
station, located near the left flank of the battery, with an
elevation of 275 feet, constructed in 1909. There was also a
station B2S2 dug in at Tennessee Point at an elevation of 88
feet (former B2 Battery Mendell), (constructed March 1909) and
an S station at Fort Point constructed by the Golden Gate Bridge
Company in 1934, to take the place of a Battery Godfrey station
destroyed to make way for the bridge. Height of the Axis of Telescope
above M.L.L.W.=142.3 ft, and had 1- Lewis D.P.F. 1907, Class
DMM, #242, with limiting Azimuth of field of view= 3o-178o, and
having an elevation of 142 feet, and a wooden station B3 S3 at
Baker Beach, Height of Top of Pier above M.L.L.W.=35.604 ft,
Height of Axes of Telescope above M.L.L.W.=40.000, Height of
Axes of Telescope above Top of Pier=4.396 ft, and had the following
equipment: 1 only Lewis D.P.F. Model 1898 # 75, 1 Wood Bench
( to be built at Point Lobos in case of war ) the B.C, The height
of top of pier above M.L.L.W=270.55, Height of Axes of telescope
above M.L.L.W.=275.30, .Height of Axes of Telescope above Top
of Pier=4.75. This station is normally used as a B.C. Station,
but is used as a base end station on the short base of the battery
when required, it had Lewis D.P.F. Class C M.M. Model 1907, #103,
and circular wood bench. The Plotting Room had the following
equipment, 1 only Pratt Range Board, Model 1905, # 297, 1 Deflection
Board. Gun Model M1905 # 326, 1 Targs, 1 Wind Comp Indicator.
# 31, ! fire Adjustment Board. # 21and 1 Cloke Plotting Board,
Model 26 #63.
This battery was salvaged by the Commanding
General , Fort Winfield Scott and Sub-Post under directive contained
in Secret letter, Office of the Chief of Ordnance, file 0.0 400.93/28
(S) SPOFX5 to the CG Ninth Service Command, Dated January 23
1946, Subject; "Salvage of Obsolete Armament". The
guns of Battery Godfrey were in place throughout W.W.1, two decades
of peace and over a year of WW 11, before being removed in 1943.
But still today it is nice to walk around this nice old battery
which is still in good condition.
Gun number 2 firing.
Photgraph courtesy of Craig Hegdahl
Completed Works - Seacoast Fortifications