Historic California Posts, Camps Stations and Airfields
Fort Barry: Batteries Hamilton Smith and Edwin Guthrie
Battery Edwin Guthrie was a battery of four six-inch rapid-fire guns, Model 1900, serial numbers 2, 3, 5, 12 manufactered by Watervliet Arsenal were mounted on barbette carriages, Model 1900, serial mumbers 13 through 16 made by the Rock Island Arsenal. Under the provisions of War Department General Order 194, the emplacement was named on December 27, 1904 in honor of Captain Edwin Guthrie, 15th Infantry Regiment, who died in action at La Hoya during the Mexican War in 1847.
In 1922, Battery Guthrie was divided for better management of the weapons, and the two guns on the left flank were named on March 22 for Hamilton A. Smith, a West Point graduate killed in action at Soissons, France, during World War I in 1918.
During World War II the guns from these two batteries were used to defend the minefields outside the Golden Gate from minesweepers.
The battery was inactivated in 1945 and its guns scrapped soon thereafter.
Battery Edwin Guthrie
by Justin Ruhge
The rapid-fire small caliber guns placed at all the fort locations had been mentioned by the Endicott Board but not recommended at the time. It was not until the late 1890s and after the Spanish-American War that they were built into harbor defenses. This also had something to do with availability of self-contained ammunition and small caliber breech-loading rifles with simple breechblocks.
Rapid-fire batteries have already been presented in the foregoing Bay Area Forts; Battery Guthrie was also one of these rapid-fire batteries as was Rathbone and O'Rorke to be described in later sections.
The 6-inch batteries Guthrie and Rathbone were almost identical in design except for locations of stairways, etc. In both, the distance between adjacent guns was far greater than in earlier batteries of this caliber, i.e. 94 feet, and this permitted the traverses to be extended somewhat above the parapet crests without making them too pronounced. What resulted was a one-and-one-half story design, with the magazine and loading floors separated by only six or seven feet. The vertical rise was broken by a step or two, which made it possible to transport ammunition without employing special hoists.
As originally constructed, each of these four-gun batteries was provided with an open battery-commander's station located atop the traverse between emplacements 1 and 2. Around 1910, this "crows nest" on Battery Guthrie was enclosed and covered by a concrete slab roof. Following World War I, when Guthrie and Rathbone were both split into two batteries of two guns each, additional structures of this form were built onto the traverses between the new position 1 and 2 to serve the resulting two-gun batteries on the left.

Battery Edwin Guthrie was originally four 6-inch breech loading rapid-fire guns Model 1900, Nos. 2,3,5,12 which were manufactured at the Watervliet Arsenal. They were mounted on barbette carriages Model 1900, Nos. 13-16 made by the Rock Island Arsenal.
This battery was named in General Order 194, December 27, 1904 in honor of Captain Edwin Guthrie, 15th Infantry, who died of wounds received in action at La Hoya, Mexico in 1847.
The battery was located at an elevation of 237 feet. Original construction cost was $69,000. It was transferred to the troops on June 8, 1905.
Battery Hamilton Smith
by Justin Ruhge
In 1922, Battery Edwin Guthrie was divided for better management of the weapons. The two guns on the left flank becoming Battery Hamilton A. Smith in accordance with General Order 13, March 22, 1922. This battery was named in honor of Smith, a West Point graduate who was killed in action at Soissons, France in 1918. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross posthumously.
Batteries Hamilton Smith and Edwin Guthrie
compiled by Mr. Chuck Wofford
M1900 six-inch rapid-fire gun
This battery was mounted with four 6-inch rapid fire guns, model 1900 nos 2,3,5, and 12, they were manufactured at the Watervliet Arsenal. The following specification are for the Model 1900. Weight of the gun was 19,114 lbs, and the gun cost 9,000.00, with a range of 17,000 yards, with and elevation of 20o (originally designed for 15).
The following is information on the Model 1900
Emplacement # 1 The reference height of the crest=26'.4, Emplacement # 2=25.9 Emplacement # 3=26'1", Emplacement # 4= 25'6" above mean low water. 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.
The carriage for this model gun was a Barbette model # 1900, nos 13, 14 and 15 and 16 came from Rock Island Arsenal. The carriage weighted 26,450 with a range of 17,000 yards, there were 45 built: Original Emplacement:44 Time Emplaced 1902-1906, reallocations until 1943. It was installed using 16 bolts, Circle of Diameter: 5' Parapet Height: 2'9" Center To Parapet: 3' 6", this battery had groves in platform behind the carriage for increased elevation. The carriage cost (barbette) $11,750.00.
The following information is on Carriage Model 1900


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; and so the rate of fire which can be obtained from the gun The means which must be provided for moving ammunition , depend of course upon the weight and bulk of the piece to be moved.(the shell, A.P. weighted about 108 lbs, the H.E weighted 90 pounds) The projectile are stored in rows along the wall of the shell room, with there point to the wall so the bases could be gotten at for placing fuses, the bottom layer of shells where placed in pairs and put on timber skids, and then stacked using the same method. 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 projectile 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 ammunition supply for this battery was stored in the shell room which was 12 x 30 (there were 2 of them) and held 450, in each room, The size of the powder magazine was 11' 9" X 35' and held 175. The battle allowance for this battery was 1200 AP, and it's war reserve was 1200 a.p., with 400 H.E. at the Central Reserve.
In a letter of May 8 1905, the Quartermaster Corp will delivery the sights for this battery to Fort Barry instead of Fort Baker, Jan 9 1936 at Battery Guthrrie the 3" Telescopic sights #M1905 #26-52 were cross wires installed in clover leaf reticule, at the same date in Battery Smith the same work was done on the same equipment # 26-52 Model 1905.
Work was authorized on August 17 1901, and construction of a road connecting the two rapid fire with the main road leading to the two 12" was built and ballasted with disintegrated rock take from the 3" battery excavation, which was well opened and advanced 25% toward completion. At the same time the site for the battery was cleared and grated.
The actual excavation on this battery was started in 1903. The material encountered was first a 2-foot layer of loose sand, then a hard compact clay, tending to rock. It is believed that a ledge will soon be encountered, with the removal of over 989 cu. yds of dirt and sand. When the excavation was completed, and the forms for the concrete was started.
On the timber used in making the forms, in all cases dressed lumber will be used. As the forms were building the reinforcing material is attached to the forms, there was over 990 lb. of reinforcement metal used.
As the forms were being finished the pouring of the foundation was started, and exactly the same precaution should be applied in constructing the foundation of a gun emplacement , as would be considered necessary in constructing the foundation of any heavy masonry structure.
Using over 1650 concrete, and nearly 767 cu yd of finished concrete. Usually the gun block, which is the portion of the emplacement, that supports the gun and the carriage is poured first. Its size and mass therefore must such as to make it safe from overturning by the shock of the discharge, the size and shape of the gun block must, of course be such as to fit the carriage and consequently, it must be largely designed to accord with the Ordnance Dept drawing of the carriage, in fact for a few details such as drainage, bringing in the electric cable, ect the Engineer Dept in preparing gun block design, has but little freedom or responsibility.
It is the purpose to do the concrete work for the rapid fire battery from the main mixing plant at the two 12" gun battery; hense the active construction has not been pushed until the larger battery was done.
Except for electric wiring and setting pedestals, May 1905, and carriages # 13 and 14 were received May 22, 1905. Sixteen shot truck were received March 8, 1905.
This battery was 282' across, and 80' deep 220' between the guns, in addition to the Shell Rooms and Powders Rooms, this two story battery had on the Smith side the Engine Room 10' X 10' 9", the Radiator Room was on the left of the engine room and was 10' X 8' 9" and to the right was a Store Room that was 10' X 8' 9", on the Guthrie side there was Guard Room 10' X 8' 9" and to the right was a Plotting Room that was 10' X 8' 9" and two Store Rooms 10' X 8' 9" also in the middle between Smith # 1 and Gunthrie # 2 was a larger Plotting Room that was 18' X 20.9" and in front of it was a guard room which was 10' X 20' 9".
One of the last things to do was to add, is the 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, there was over 1900 cu. ft of fill used in this battery, 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. This battery was at an elevation of 237 feet. 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 made an inspection of the structure, and it was in order the keys, were transferred to the Artillery commander, on June 8 1905 at a cost of $69,193.64.
Electrification for this battery came from Battery Guthrie. Power Room, it had two 25 k.w. generating sets made by the G.E .Co, they were four cycle , four cylinder, single acting vertical type. They are each directly connected to a G.E. Generator, type M.P.C. Class 6,-25 kw,- 560 R.P.M- 115 volt d.c.. and are each capable of operating its generator at full load , indefinitely, and at 25 percent overload for two hours, furnishing in each case 2.5 k.w. additional for operating the radiator fans, this battery had 2 power generating sets G.E. 25 kw sets. They were installed November 11, 1910 , the generator # 183195 & 183194, The engine were numbered # 5459 & 5456. They furnished the power for Battery O'Rorke, and a fire control switchboard room, and Battery Alexander, B Guthrie, these standard Engineer Dept gasoline sets, one for backup, and the two to be operated alterability, the units are placed in a room in the rear of traverse between emplacement #3 and #4, it horizontal protection against attack consists generality of the concrete and earthen parapets of either adjoining platforms. A hostile shell might reach the radiator room at such an angle that only three feet of concrete would serve as protection or the shell might even enter the opening through which the radiator exhaust, the plant is in rooms at the left of the traverse, however while most of the hostile fire at the battery will probable be directed at the later from positions to the front and on the right flank of the same, but we believe the existing protection of the room is sufficient.
Fire Control
Firing stations for Guthrie, BC B1 was a concrete station located between the guns at an elevation of 246 feet, this station was subject to blast smoke and dust during firing. B2S2 was a single dug-in station at Tennessee Point at an elevation of 88 feet,(Guthrie) was recommended that this station be enlarged to install spotting equipment, Also a B2S2 Frank Valley (Smith) The plotting room was located inside the battery and was equipped with a 11000 M1915 plotting board. I assume that this work was done, have not seen any thing to the contrary. The BC B1 for this side of the battery was an open crow nest between the guns and was subject to dust and smoke during firing,B1S1 was a single dug-in station located 600 yards on the left flank and forward of the battery at elevation of 217, this station was to be enlarged to allow a spotting instrument, the plotting room was located inside the battery and was equipped with a Whistler-Hearn M1904 plotting board. A new station B2S2 double dug-in station was to be built at Frank Valley at an elevation of 450 feet with a view of the water and the beaches This project if built would have give Guthrie and Smith with Horizontal and vertical base tracking over the entire water area and the beaches (length of baseline B1S1 with B2S2, 6300 Yds.
In a letter from the War Dept dated March 28 1919, subject rearming this battery, it states that the two guns shipped out of emplacement # 3 and 4, (1917) to be replaced on the carriages that are still in position, at present it is provided with a B station constructed during 1918 on the traverse between emplacements 1 and 2 (crow-nest housed in and altered to mount a D.P.F. instrument) and an existing room in the traverse between Emplacements. 2 and 3 is equipped for the use as a plotting room, and was signed by Colonel Chas Potter.
Trunnion in battery was 236.6 Datum plane M.L.L.W. Traverse in Azimuth # 1 emplacement (Smith ) Left was 2 and Right was 119 # 2 emplacement was 2 and Right was 119, # 1 emplacement ( Guthrie ) Left Was 2 and Right was 119 # 2 emplacement was Left 2 and Right was 119, it's trunnon was 236.6, datum plan was M.L.L.W. It was connected to water and sewer , and had a syphon latrine, with a telephone for data communication, there were no hoist in this battery , as none were needed, commercial powder was installed in 1942 by OCE or ORD, kw required for non battle conditions 2.66, also there was an auxiliary power unit, had a capacity of 50KW. This battery was modernized twice, once in 1923 and once in 1943. it was ventilated by natural draft 5" terra cotta vent from the magazine.
This was one of the last Endicott to be built, and was one of the last to be abandoned, the armament was removed with final abandonment in the late 1940's. This long life was due to the continuing need to cover submarine mines with this type of weapon. In 1948 however mine defense became a Navy, responsibility, and this was the final blow to the Coast Artillery when in late 1949, these battery were closed.
Report of Completed Works - Seacoast Fortifications
Reports of Completed Works - Sea Coast Fortifications for Batteries Smith and Gutherie and associated structures
Other Online Histories
Harbor Defenses of San Francisco - A Field Guide 1890 to 1950
Images of Loading and Firing Battery Guthrie's Gun No. 1
Source: Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Presidio of San Francisco
Batteries Smith and Guthrie, Circa 2000
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Updated 23 June 2017