Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Fort Winfield Scott: Battery Marcus Miller
 
One of Battery Marcus Miller's 10-inch rifles in the firing position.
 
 
Battery Marcus Miller
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.
 
The Chief of Engineers alloted on March 10, 1891 the sum of $201,000 for emplacements 12 and 13 and construction began about June 2, 1891, on this first Endicott-type battery to be begun in San Francisco's defenses. Ten old 15-inch gun platforms of Battery West had to be removed. Construction proceeded to a point where pouring of further concrete was held up pending determination of which competing type of 'disappearing' carriage the government would adopt, losing this battery its chance to be the first completed. A third emplacement, number 11, separate from the first two, was soon added to the south. By the end of 1896 two of the gun tubes and all three carriages had been received, and all the guns and carriages were installed by the and of 1897 although the battery was not officially completed until 1898, and was transferred to the heavy artillery on April 14, 1898. The three 10-inch breechloading rifles were Model 1888, serial numbers 5, 15 and 18, all manufactured by Watervliet Arsenal. The 'disappearing' carriages in emplacements I and 3, all Model 1894, were manufactured by Watertown Arsenal and were serial numbers 27 and 34; the carriage, also Model 1894, in emplacement 2 was manufactured by William Cramp & Sons. This battery was treated for some years as part of Battery Cranston, and for awhile was called "Battery Cranston 2," but that terminology proved unsatisfactory and in October 1907 the three emplacements were designated a separate battery and named in honor of Brigadier General Marcus Miller, a West Point graduate and veteran of the Civil War and the Modoc and Nez Perce Indian Wars who had commanded the Presidio of San Francisco in 1898. Like Battery Lancaster, Battery Miller was regarded as obsolete and its guns were removed in 1918.
 
 
 
 Battery Marcus Miller's Gun Number 3.
 
 
How does a Disappearing Gun Disappear?
When a lever is pulled, a lead counterweight drops and the aimed barrel rises to the firing position. After the gun is fired, its recoil drops the gun below the parapet. This feature made the gun invisible to enemy ships and protected the crew during loading. But, while it was an effective weapon against ships, it had no protection from what its designer could not have foreseen, the airplane. Batteries designed after World War I were casemated, providing their crews a large degree of overhead protection. Below are some rare color photographs showing the battery's gun in action.
 
One of Battery Marcus Miller's 10 inch rifles in the loading position.
 
 
Battery Marcus Miller
by Chuck Wofford
 
Named In GO 210. on October 11 1907, in honor of Brigadier Gen. Marcus Miller, Artillery, a West Point graduate who fought with great distinction in the Civil War, the Modoc War, and the Nez Perce War, and in the Philippine insurrection.
 
General Miller was born in Massachusetts and was appointed a cadet at West Point from that state September 1 1854; appointed brevet, 2nd Lieutenant, 4th Artillery, July 1 1858; 2nd Lieutenant, September 26, 1859; 1st Lieutenant May 14 1861; Captain, May 11 1864; Major, 5th Artillery, September 14 1883; Lieutenant Colo�nel, 1st Artillery October 10,1894; Colonel, 3rd Artillery, April 30 1897; Brigadier Gen�eral Volunteers, May 27, 1898; Vacated February 23, 1899; appointed Brigadier General, United States Army, February 15, 1899.
 
Retired from active service March 27, 1899, General Miller was brevetted Colonel February 27,1890, and died December 29,1906. Also, in 1898 he had been commanding officer of the Presidio of San Francisco.
 
This battery is historically significant, because it is a part of the great modernization program of the United States coastal defenses, known as the "Endicott Era" (1890-1910): and it marked the beginning of the Endicott era at the San Francisco Bay.
 
Ordnance
 
This battery had three 10-inch guns, Model #1888: nos 5, 15, and 18, manufactured by Watervliet Arsenal.
 
The gun cost $31,725.00.
 
These three guns were mounted on a disappearing carriage, Model #1894M1: nos 27, 34, were manufactured by the Watertown Arsenal and no 24 was manufactured by William Camp & Sons, and the carriage cost $27,000.00.
 
Ammunition Service
 
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 ammunition supply for this battery was stored in the Shell and Powder room. One each behind and a half moon shaped on the 1st floor behind the base of the gun block, which held about 50 shells, and there three Shell rooms, between each emplacement, that was 11' X 30' and held 125 shells in which were piled in three tiers, and three Powder rooms that were 8' X 30'.
 
There were about 100 powder charges in the powder rooms.
 
Construction
 
Excavation of emplacement # 3 began June 2 1891, and by the end of the year ten of the 15-inch platforms of the old Battery West had been removed, three 10-inch disappearing emplacement that would comprise Battery Marcus Miller: at #11 the excavation for the new parapet is about completed, and excavation about 1/3 done on the magazine roofs and the masonry around them, at emplacement 13 all the masonry of the parapet and about the magazine had been practically completed excepting the large spaces left void in the parapet in front of the gun position to accommodate whatever carriage may be adopted. In 1896 the gaps in the parapets of all three emplacement, left to receive the gun platforms, were filled in with concrete, 776 yards were required. Owing to the height of the parapets above the terrepleins was 18 feet, the concrete has to be hoisted in buckets by means of a derrick. The principal work in this three 10-inch battery was the construction of three platforms for Crozier-Buffington carriages. The drawing of these platform arrived June 1895, and all three platforms were finished by March 1896. So the work was going in good order, over 7365 cu yds of sand and dirt where removed from the site, over 8494 cu yds of concrete, and over 5700 backfill and top dressing and was completed in 1898. This battery was 560' across, and 65' deep and there was 160' between #1 and #2 and 240' between #2 and #3. There was a Hoist Room, which was 10' X 15' and an Oil Room which was 5' X 10' also on the first floor behind the guns, was a loading area, with two loading cranes at each emplacement. Behind emplacement #2, there was a Oil Room, that was 8' X 10' and a Hoist Room that was 10' X 15'. Behind emplacement #3, there was an Oil Room, which was 8' X 10' and a Hoist Room, that was 10' X 15', also a Engine Room, that was 12' X 28' and a Latrine, that was 20' X 10' and a Guard Room, that was 14' X 14' and a Store Rooms, 14' X 16' there was also three B.C. Stations, and a Tool Room and a few spare room, that are not marked on the constructions plans, one must have been a. plotting room. The erection of the forms for the loading platforms and annular shot rooms gave considerable trouble, owing to there curved forms. Great care had to be exercised to thoroughly brace all parts. A department in the usual method of finishing concrete surface was employed on the platforms. During the year of 1895 two 10" guns and two Crozier-Buffington carriages were received. The work of mounting was commenced at once and continued until orders to cease were received to enable the Ordnance Dept to make certain alterations in the carriages. At emplacements #11 12, and 13 tunnels have been cut through the masonry to give access to the counterweight wells, and the terrepleins of these works will also receive a concrete pavement. Two gun have been mounted in 11 and 12, the third carriage while being mounted at emplacement #13, was broken by the falling of the counterweight, by the end of the fiscal year 1896 all the gun were mounted. In 1897 the excavation for a guard room and relocator room was started Oct 1 1997, and by the end of the month the excavation was 680 cubic yards, and the foundation was started by the end of the month, during the following month, and until Dec. 15, the carpenters were engaged in construction the forms for the rooms. On the latter date concertina was started and pushed to completion as quickly as possible, on Jan 27 1998. This battery was transferred on April 14 1898, at a cost of $299.861.55
 
Power
 
In this battery 2 sets that were installed in existing guard and store room in traverse between emplacement #2 and 3, there were some altered to accommodate the engines and radiators
 
Miscellaneous
 
This battery was the first of the Endicott era work to be undertaken in the San Francisco Harbor, it main function was to defense of the Golden Gate and adjacent waters, but Battery Godfrey was armed first, being it had Barbett carriages.
 
At first it was named Battery Cranston 2, as were two similar emplacement later built to the North, eventually the five guns were divided into two batteries, and the two newer ones retaining the name Cranston.
 
This battery was connected to water and sewer, with a syphon latrine and it data transmission was by telephone and a speaking tube. This battery was ventilated by natural draft (emplacement #1 was a 10 inch, emplacement 2 and 3 by 8-inch vents from magazine terminating at the rear wall under the splinter proofs. Trunnion elevation in emplacement #1 was 197.4--#2 was 203.4--#3 was 208.5, Datum plane M.L.L.W.
 
Owing to the unsatisfactory character of the water supply to the new batteries, a new plan was projected for four reservoirs on Rob Hill supplied by the quartermaster's pumping plant near Mountain Lake. This plan having been approved, the first reservoir of the series was built and all pipe connection made. As long as the water supply holds good this arrangement promises to be very satisfactory.
 
Fire Control
 
There is not to much information on fire control for this battery, there was a B.C. for the battery as well as an C and W station, which were pits about 8 X 10 to a depth of 6 feet, they were floored, lined with two inch planks and covered with a shingled pent-roof having a sky-light over the base end. The pits were drained and all the excavated soil removed out of sight. The pit C was 1008 yards from gun 11, and was the principal station.
 
Abandonment
 
Battery Marcus Miller was regarded as obsolete and it guns were removed in 1918, Fort Book Said 1920) the guns saw service from 1898 until 1920 and then were dismounted. Today this is the only 10-inch gun in the G.G.N.R.A., but still in good shape, and you can walk on and around it.
 
 
Report of Complete Works - Seacoast Fortifications
 
 
Report of Completed Works - Seacoast Fortifications: Battery Marcus Miller
 
Battery Marcus Miller Today
 
Gun Number 3's emplacement. October 2000
 
Emplacement for Gun 3. October 2000
 
Gun 2's emplacement. October 2000
 
Gun number 2's emplacement. October 2000
 
 Battery Commander's station. October 2000
 
 
Additional Online Histories:
 
FortWiki
Harbor Defenses of San Francisco - A Field Guide 1890 to 1950
National Park Service
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Updated 8 February 2016