Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Fort Winfield Scott: Battery Sherwood
 
 
 
Battery Sherwood
by Chuck Wofford
 
This Endicott battery was named in GO 16, February 14 1902, in honor of Lt Walter Sherwood, 7th Infantry, who was killed in hand to hand encounter with Seminole Indians, near Fort Micanopy, Florida, on December 28th 1840. Graduated from West Point, 1837. Born in New Jersey. Appointed from New Jersey.
 
 
Ordnance
 
This battery was armed with 2 - 5-inch rapid-fire guns, Model 1900 nos 2 &13, and were manufactured by Watervliet Arsenal. The gun weighted 11,120 lbs, and the gun cost $6,250.00. There were 48 manufactured.
 
The above guns were mounted on, pedestal mounts Model 1903, nos 16 and 17 nondisappearing; the carriage weighted 15,300 lbs, at a cost of $8,150.00. There were 21 built, and there were 20 original emplacement, time emplaced was 1904 to 1909, and relocations until 1919.
 
The following is information on 1900 gun & 1903 mount:
 
This battery has a distinct class of weapons, whose appearance in the area did not begin until many of the major works were underway. This was the new generation of light caliber guns, technically called "Rapid Fire" weapons. The guns in general shared a number of features, the principal one of which was--as there generic designation indicates the ability to delivery fire at high rates, as much as 20 or 30 rounds per minute for short periods by the smaller pieces. This ability was due of course to there use of ammunition light enough to be handled manually. In form these weapons were quite simple: light guns mounted on carriages technically classified as barbette, though actually nothing more that pedestals, in addition to the gun itself, the mounts supported the necessary elevation and traversing machinery plus the recoil and counter-recoil appliances, which were usually of a hydraulic-spring mount combination.
 
The following information is on Gun Model 1900 guns #2 & #13
 
 
Carriages Model 1903 # 16-17 were mounted December 1902, under the supervision of Ordnance Dept, and was leveled by the Ordnance Dept.
 
 
Ammunition Service
 
As to ammunition storage and service for this battery had storage space, which were called Magazines. 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 means that must be provided for moving ammunition depend of course upon the weight and bulk of the piece to be moved.
 
For the guns in this 5-inch battery, the projectiles and the powder are ordinarily stored and transported to the gun in the form of complete cartridges put up in metal cases, similar as the cartridge used in the infantry rifle. The projectile were stored in rows along the wall of the shell room. The ammunition supply for this battery was stored in the shell room, which was 13.3 X 22.0 (there were 2 of them) and held 1000. Larger amounts could be put in the shell rooms, by stacking higher or closer together. The shells for these small caliber guns usually issued as fixed ammunition put up in metallic cartridges, and shipped to the battery in wooden boxes or cases containing several rounds. It is kept in the form that it was received until just before it is to be used, when the boxes are broken open. Its storage, therefore consist simply in piling up the boxes in the most convenient arrangement.
 
 
Construction
 
As with any battery is to be built in any Engineer district, as much information as may be necessary is sent to the district officer.
 
After this the constructions starts, during this period Army Regulations place the structures within the exclusive control of the Engineer Department.
 
On December 20 1899, $17,473.00 was allotted for the construction of this battery; on May 6 1900 additional funds were transferred from other allotment, to the construction of this battery.
Construction of this battery began in January 1900 with the grading and clearing of the site, which took only 3days, then the excavation started with the removal of 1250 cu. yds of dirt and sand.
In estimating the cost it was supposed that the material encountered in the excavation would be sand to a depth of 8 or 8 feet and clay for the remainder of the distance, such being the character of the ground of the 8" emplacement about 170 feet to the east.
 
Instead rock was met with 4 or 5 feet below the surface. The average cost of the excavation was 65 cents per cubic yard, which was .10 cents a yard more than estimate. The magazines being on a lower level that the platforms, it was thought best to build them entirely separate, leaving planes of weakness between them and the platforms. Every precaution to prevent leaking was taken, drain tiles being placed around the walls, which latter were plastered and painted with paraffine paint.
 
After the excavation is finished, the forms are started, on the timber used in making the forms, in all cases dressed lumber will be used.
 
It is necessary at this time to mount all metal in the foundation before the concrete was poured, in this battery there had to be placed, Iron and Steel in the form of I beams for reinforcing ceilings, and in columns for supporting ceilings, for reinforcing concrete, you can use wire mesh, deformed steel bars, there was over 2150 lbs of reinforcing steel bars.
 
The gun block, which is the portion of the emplacement, that supports the gun and the carriage, is generally poured first, if the battery is built in a sandy location. The Engineer Dept in preparing gun block design, has but little freedom or responsibility. In this medium barbette emplacement the gun blocks are very simple.
 
Then the gravity mixer was tried as an experiment and proved very satisfactory, there being quite a saving in labor over hand mixing and using 1252 cu yds of concrete, and 1125 cu. yds finished concrete. Althrought the concrete was made by hand, the peoportions being 1 of cement 31/3 of sand and 8 of rock. It was mixed three times, twice dry and once wet, by six men, and about 85 yards a day were put in place. for the magazines, the proportions being 1 of cement 31/3 sand and 8 of rock by volume. It was mixed three times, twice dry and once wet by six men, and about 85 cubic yards per day were put in place. The work carried along continuously until June at which time it was practically completed in FY 1900, except for setting the base rings and whitewashing the rooms. The base ring will be set as soon as they arrive, and rooms will be whitewashed as soon as the concrete is dry.
 
This battery was 88' across and 57' deep with 36' between the guns. Also on the 1st floor of this two story battery, it had an Oil Room that was 8'3" x 10', and a C.O. Room that was 10' x 12', and the magazines that were 13.3 x 22, as far as the plans show there were not any more rooms in this battery, at the back of the battery there steps going down a slope to the road that rain behind the battery. The final items to do was to add, the sand on the front and flanks of the lower floor of batteries. 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, there was 456 cu. yds of backfill and top fill were added to the slopes and seeded.
 
The emplacements were completed in the FY 1901, excepting the whitewashing of the interior rooms, and setting the base rings, (name plates speaking tubes were purchased and put in place) and a few minor details. The structure was completed and the district Engineer officer prepares the "transfer drawing" then the Engineer officer and the local Coast Artillery officer make an inspection of the structure, and all was in order and keys, were transferred to the Artillery commander. This battery was near the National Cemetery at the Presidio, And was completed in 1901, and was transferred on August 2 1902, at a cost of $20,355.07.
 
 
Power
 
Electrification for this battery as well as the other "cemetery battery” came from an electric plant from Battery Slaughter, the light wire were installed by the Engineer Dept. The interior wiring is on porcelain cleats screwed to wooden strips in the concrete and the exterior wiring is carried by poles.
 
 
Miscellaneous
 
It was connected to water and sewer, but there was not a latrine here, it data transmission was by telephone, and was ventilated by natural draft. Trunnion elevation in Battery was 92.6, Datum M.L.L.W.
 
 
Abandonment
 
Sherwood is somewhat isolated from the main complex of battery at Fort Scott. After the early abandonment of this battery,(1915) when the submarine mines were moved to out side the Golden Gate, it gun were moved to Battery Bruff, at Fort Funston, as per the Secretary of War February 10 1917 of plan proposed by the CG PAC, Coast Arty, under the date October 12 1916 (PCAD 3133). Battery Sherwood magazines were used for storage and the boundary was redrawn to place this battery within the Presidio of San Francisco, While it tactical value was short lived, Battery Sherwood was the only battery of it type in the Endicott period at San Francisco.
 
This battery saw service from 1900 until 1917, by this time the perfection of underwater mines made inner-harbor defensive works largely obsolete. Because of there isolated location and the limited parking Sherwood and Blaney will not receive much visitation. They will remain of interest to visitors especially involved with fortification Despite the heavy traffic on the road to the bridge, the area containing Sherwood and Blaney is a pleasant site or an idyllic spot from which to view the bay and its shipping. This battery is in very good shape, well worth the time to see.
 
 
Report of Completed Works - Seacoast Fortification
Courtesy of the Coast Defense Study Group
 
 
Report of Completed Works - Seacoast Fortifications: Battery Sherwood
 
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Harbor Defenses of San Francisco - A Field Guide 1890 to 1950
 
 
 
 
 
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Updated 23 June 2017