Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Fort Rosecrans
(Castillo de Guijarros, Point Loma Military Reservation, San Diego Air Force Reserve Recovery Center)
 

Fort Rosecrans
By Col. George Ruhlen, USA (Ret)
 
The southern end of Pt. Loma was set aside as a military reservation by Executive Order of the President of the United States on Feb. 26, 1852; its northern boundary was a line from the harbor to the ocean at a distance of 11/2 miles north of La Punta de los Guijarros, which we now call Ballast Point.
 
Two small tracts later were set aside for lighthouse purposes, one at Ballast Point and one at the tip of the reservation, and a third was reserved for the Quarantine Station, near La Playa. On Sept. 24, 1901, the northerly part was transferred to the Navy for a coaling station. The reservation was first used for military purposes by the United States on Feb. 28, 1870, although it previously had been so used by both the Spaniards and Mexicans.
 
By general acts of the California Legislature on Mar. 2 and 9, 1897, the state ceded to the United States exclusive jurisdiction on all lands held for military purposes, including the parcels of land from high-water mark to 300 yards beyond low-water mark, lying adjacent to shore-side military reservations. The state reserved the right to serve civil Processes not incompatible with this cessation, and such criminal processes as may lawfully issue against persons charged with crimes committed outside of such lands.
 
As early as 1792, the Spanish authorities realized the defenseless condition of their California ports, and issued orders to take all steps to keep foreigners from becoming cognizant of the fact. The matter was brought home forcibly by Captain George Vancouver of the British Royal Navy, who called here in 1793 and concluded some unfavorable observations about their Presidio by the remark that "With little difficulty it might be rendered a place of considerable strength, by establishing a small force at the entrance of the port; where at this time there are neither works, guns, houses or other habitations nearer than the Presidio, five miles from the port and where they have only three small pieces of brass cannon."
 
Thus aroused by the Britisher, and somewhat perturbed by encroachments of the Russians in the north, they projected a fort at Punta de los Guijarros. Workmen and materials were sent from Monterey and Santa Barbara while brick and tile were hauled from the Presidio to the beach and taken across to the point by flatboat. In 1797 the engineer, Capt. Alberto de Cordoba, advised changing from the proposed circular fort at the end of the point to an adobe fort with two wings mounting ten guns, sited near the shore end. The fort was built on ground later to be occupied by Fort Rosecrans' Battery Fetterman, of two 3-inch seacoast guns. This battery has been razed and a storehouse erected on the site.
 
Castillo Guijarros
by Jay Wegter, 1990
Image courtesy of the Fort Guijarros Museum Foundation
 
 
Fort Guijarros' baptism of fire occurred Mar. 22, 1803. The Yankee brig Lelia Byrd, after some contraband dealings with the inhabitants, was seized and put under armed guard. Overpowering the Spaniards, the crew raised anchor and stood out to sea, carrying the guard with her. The fort opened fire, scoring several hits. Abeam of Ballast Point, the brig fired a broadside from her six 3-pounders, driving the defenders from their batteries. Once out of range, the Yankees put the terrified guards (who had been forced to line the rail during the engagement) into a boat and let them row ashore.
 
Time passed. The fort fell into disuse and disrepair; by 1839 only two serviceable cannon were left. Early in 1840 the remnants of the fort and casa mata were sold to Juan Machado for $40. One of the guns now is mounted on a pedestal in the Old Town Plaza, another is at the site of Fort Stockton on Presidio Hill. The rest are gone. One story is that they were spiked by an American sea-captain in 1842 and thrown into the bay, another is that they were moved to Los Angeles or Santa Barbara. Some of the tiles went into the "Old Spanish Lighthouse" built on top of Point Loma by the Americans in 1855.
 
It was not until May of 1873 that work began on earthen seacoast batteries for fifteen guns of the largest caliber, to protect the harbor of San Diego. The work continued through the following year and considerable progress was made when the funds gave out and work stopped. Faces of the batteries had been raised to parade level and one magazine was partially built. Things remained in this unfinished, utterly worthless state for twenty years, as Congress made no appropriations for seacoast defense from 1875 to 1890. In 1885 President Cleveland, by direction of Congress, appointed a board of distinguished Army and Navy officers and civilians to "examine and report at what ports fortifications or other defenses are most urgently required." San Diego was one of the ports listed.
 
Construction of emplacements for two 10-inch seacoast guns on disappearing carriages began at Ballast Point in January of 1897 and continued for several years. A third emplacement was completed Feb. 7, 1898; the guns were mounted by artillery troops of the garrison between Apr. 9 and May 21 the same year.
 
The submarine mining casemate was finished about this time. The Engineer Corps in those days was charged with submarine mine operations, and the engineer officer in charge of construction, Capt. J. J. Meyler, organized a volunteer company of citizens to plant and operate the mine-field. There were about 80 men - carpenters, electricians, civil engineers, surveyors, telegraphers, boiler-makers, steam engineers, boatmen, mechanics, and a few soldiers from the local Engineer Battalion. On May 23 and 24 they planted fifteen electrically-controlled mines in the channel, an open passage marked by buoys being left. The minefield was protected by two smooth-bore muzzle-loaders of Civil War vintage and patrolled by the Revenue Cutter Corwin. The two guns now ornament the headquarters building at the fort; in September 1898 the mines were taken up, cleaned and stored.
 
It was appropriate that Battery D, 3rd Artillery, was the first to occupy the new fort, for Battery D had een the last military unit to occupy the San Diego Mission, then a military post. That was back in 1858, when the battery was ordered into Washington Territory to fight Indians. Now, forty years later, a detachment of twenty soldiers from the same old battery arrived from San Diego Barracks, under 2nd Lt. George T. Patterson. That was on Feb. 2, 1898; on Feb. 15 Capt. Charles Humphreys and the rest of the battery arrived. In July 1900 the battery was ordered to China and saw action in the Boxer Uprising. Duty in the Philippines and in France during World War I intervened before the battery returned to Fort Rosecrans, on July 1, 1924.
 
The fourth emplacement for the 10-inch gun battery was completed Feb. 13, 1900. Originally called attery Wilkinson, it later was divided into two batteries; the left pair kept the same name, and the right pair was named Battery Calef. At the same time Battery Fetterman of two 3-inch guns, and Battery McGrath of two 5-inch, were built. The buildings were erected from 1901 to 1904 and are frame construction except for the Post Exchange, where post headquarters is now located, which is brick.
 
The fort was named for Maj. Gen. William Starke Rosecrans, U.S.V. (Brigadier General, U.S.A.). He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy July 1, 1842, was commissioned Bvt. 2nd Lt., Corps of Engineers, and resigned April 1, 1854. He went back, served with distinction in the Civil War and resigned Mar. 28, 1867; appointed Brigadier General Feb. 27, 1889, retired March 1 and died March 11, 1898. He visited San Diego in 1871 in the interests of the Texas & Pacific Railroad and is purported to have offered Alonzo Horton $250,000 for New San Diego.
 
On Aug. 20, 1901, the 115th Company of Coast Artillery was organized at San Diego Barracks and then transferred to Fort Rosecrans, where it remained until July 1, 1924, when it was sent to Puget Sound. On the same date the 28th Company of Coast Artillery (formerly Battery E of the Third Artillery) was transferred to the Columbia River, having served at Rosecrans from July 2 5, 1905.
 
Service at Fort Rosecrans was considered highly desirable, and applications for transfer or re-enlistment of discharged soldiers into its companies were being received constantly. As a result, the garrison was maintained at full strength with capable and experienced soldiers. It was jokingly called an "old soldiers' home" and many of those who served there, when discharged or retired from the service, became substantial citizens of San Diego and the surrounding community.
 
From 1911 to the outbreak of World War I the garrison was active in patrolling the Mexican border, housing and guarding interned military prisoners captured at the border while fleeing from Mexico, and assisting in the training of the California National Guard.
 
Two 12-inch mortar batteries (Whistler and White) were constructed in 1915-16, White in a ravine just west of the post and Whistler in a ravine on the bay side of the peninsula ridge, a short distance south of the gate on the upper road.
 
During World War I, in addition to its own complete garrison, the 1st Battalion of the 65th Coast Artillery, the 54th Ammunition Train and the 1st and 2nd Antiaircraft Batteries were organized and trained at Rosecrans, and dispatched overseas. In 1922, the Coast Artillery did not have enough men to fully garrison all of its stations in the United States and also maintain the overseas garrisons at sufficient strength; the latter task took almost half of the manpower of that arm. Consequently some of the home forts went on caretaker status, Fort Rosecrans among them.
 
Fort Pio Pico, a sub-post of Fort Rosecrans, was built on North Island opposite Ballast Point, in 1906. It was abandoned in 1919 and its two 3-inch guns were installed in Battery McGrath, whose 5-inch guns had been sent overseas.
 
While it was in caretaker status, Fort Rosecrans, on two occasions, provided quarters for troops other than artillery. In 1930, it became headquarters for the Sixth Infantry Brigade, commanded by Brig. Gen. Ralph H. VanDeman, who moved his headquarters here from the interior. A troop of the 11th Cavalry was stationed at Fort Rosecrans from October 1931, following the abandonment of Camp Hearn at Imperial Beach. In August 1932 they moved on to Monterey.
 
Impending war in 1941 resulted in strengthening the defenses of San Diego. The 1917 cantonment buildings had been razed, and now new buildings took their place; some were close to the post and others were on the upper part of the reservation. The latter ones later were turned over to the Navy and became part of the Naval Electronics Laboratory. Battery Strong's emplacement, on the ocean side of the point near the upper gate, was finished in 1937, and its two 8-inch guns on barbette carriages were mounted in April 194 1. A 6-inch battery -- Humphreys -- was situated on the bay side, near the tip of the point.
 
Battery Ashburn, two 16-inch guns in casemates, was completed Aug. 26, 1943, on the seaward side just north of the Old Lighthouse. Antiaircraft batteries, mobile batteries, searchlights and fire-control installations were placed along the coast from La Jolla to the Mexican border. In 1942 the 262nd and in 1943 the 281st Coast Artillery Battalions were organized and trained at the post and sent overseas, while other units used the fort for special training.
 
With the passing of the battleship and its counterpart, seacoast artillery, Fort Rosecrans again has been placed on a caretaker status and its armament scrapped. On July 1, 1959, the reservation was transferred to the Navy Department. However, the headquarters for Army Reserve components in the San Diego area remain there.
 
Several historical landmarks are within the reservation, some accessible to the public and others in restricted areas. The point always has been a mecca for tourists, and in 1910 a road surfaced with decomposed granite was built along the crest of the point, out to the Old Lighthouse. It was sprinkled with salt water pumped up from the bay to a tank on top of the point, and distributed to sprinkling-carts. It was entirely satisfactory for the traffic of the period.
 
A presidential proclamation on Oct. 14, 1913 set aside about half an acre surrounding the Old Lighthouse as an historic landmark, and the site for a monument commemorating the discovery of California by Cabrillo on Sept. 28, 1542. The area recently has been increased to about 35 acres.
 
Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, on the crest of the point, first was used as a burial-ground for San Diego Barracks and was known as "Post Cemetery, San Diego Barracks (Point Loma)". The first burial there was that of Pvt. John T. Welch of Company 1, 8th Infantry, Oct. 5, 1879. When the fort was established it became Fort Rosecrans Post Cemetery and was so designated until 1935 when it became Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. Originally about one acre, it now is over forty times that size. Inside the stone wall of the original area lie the remains of the soldiers of the First Dragoons who were killed at the Battle of San Pasqual, Dec. 6, 1846. A granite boulder from the battlefield bears a bronze plaque with the names of the soldiers, while nearby are the graves of the two company commanders, Capt. Benjamin D. Moore and his brother-in-law, 2nd Lt. Thomas C. Hammond, killed while leading the attack. Beside is the grave of Bvt. Lt. Col. Louis S. Craig, 3rd Infantry, murdered on the Colorado desert by two Army deserters whom he was trying to persuade to return to their station; Fort Craig, N. M., a famous frontier post, was named in his memory. Nearby is buried Albert B. Smith, who spiked the Mexican guns at Old Town Presidio and nailed the American flag to the flagpole in the Plaza, while under fire by Mexican snipers. The tall granite obelisk marks the last resting place of the many American sailors who died in the boiler explosion aboard the U.S.S. Bennington in San Diego harbor July 21, 1905.
 
In early days whalers set up their try-pots on the bay side of Ballast Point; the spot was marked in 1933 but since has been covered with sand from a dredging project. Ballast Point is where Cabrillo landed in 1542, where the name San Diego first was applied by Vizcaino in 1602, where the first permanent settlers of California landed in April 1769, and the first Pacific Coast beacon was established the same year. The Quarantine Station was at La Playa, site of the hide houses of the Mexican period; the area now is occupied by a part of the Naval Electronics Laboratory.
 
In a restricted area on the west side of the point is what is left of a coal mine which was worked in 1847 by soldiers of the Mormon Battalion. It was worked again as late as 1891, when the Commanding Officer of the Barracks was instructed to eject trespassers who were operating there without authority.23 Other registered landmarks are Fort Rosecrans itself and its predecessor Castillo Guijarros.
 
Point Loma, rising clear and majestic against the western sky, unfolds from its crest one of the most magnificent panoramas in the world. The serene, curving bay, flanked by the white-bordered Silver Strand and the rising terraces of San Diego, is set out in the picture of the distant mountains as a background. Standing at the Old Lighthouse, absorbed in the beauty and splendor of nature's picture, one can well vision it as it was when first seen by the explorers, and the words of Winifred Davidson, San Diego's historian, come to mind:
 
"It matters not greatly that the world in general does not remember ... That the place where the West began was the place wbere California began; and The place where California bcgan was the promontory of Point Loma . . . the sun-drenched, unspoiled acres where in California be whom we incorrectly name Juan Cabrillo in 1542 first walked; where in 1602 Sebastian Vizcaino built on smooth sands a temporary house of prayer ... where unofficially and with insolence to the government under whose laws its makers were living, the Stars and Stripes, the American flag, first welcomed into California ships from Yankeeland.... These and other beginnings take old Loma out of the class of the accustomed and The expected. Its history is actually world history."
 
 
 
 
 
 
Fort Roscrans
by Justin M. Ruhge
 
History
 
Fort Rosecrans was the first of the ten great forts in California to be constructed outside of the San Francisco Bay Area. The Fort buildings were constructed on the south side or bay side of Point Loma just above the ruins of the earlier Spanish Fort Guijarros. However, before the actual establishment of the Fort, the U.S. Government had established a lighthouse on the top and end of the Point in 1854 and had started a post Civil War battery just above Fort Guijarros. It was not until 1894 that the batteries were planned and constructed after a detailed survey by the Corps of Engineers of the peninsula that was Point Loma. Once batteries were built, as we have seen at the San Francisco Forts, then the fort facilities for the soldiers to operate the batteries were added.
 

Old Point Loma Lighthouse

In 1852 Congress authorized the first eight lights for the Pacific Coast. In 1854 one of these lights was completed on Point Loma's highest point - 422 feet elevation. To get to this site a crude road from Ballast Point was built to Point Loma. The lighthouse was a two-story sandstone building measuring twenty by thirty feet. A brick tower, forty feet tall, rose from the center of the house. A third order French-designed Fresnel lens was installed and the light first lit on November 15, 1855. For the next 36 years, the Point Loma light served mariners at sea and as a harbor light for San Diego. It was the highest light in the United States; however, coastal fog often dimmed its usefulness. In 1891, the light was abandoned and a new light was erected at the tip of Point Loma at an elevation of 30 feet, well below most fogs. In addition to this light, the War Department issued another permit for a light at the end of Ballast Point to serve as a harbor light.
 
The old lighthouse, which became known as "the old Spanish lighthouse," became a favorite tourist destination because of the magnificent views obtained there of San Diego and the Pacific Ocean. In 1913, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation setting aside the lighthouse and the one-half acre of land around it as the Cabrillo National Monument in honor of San Diego's discoverer. The U.S. Army administered the monument until 1933 when it was turned it over to the U.S. Department of the Interior to become part of the National Park system. Except for the war years, the National Park Service has continued to administer the greatly enlarged national monument.
 
More detailed information on this lighthouse is found in Historic Structure Report, The Old Point Loma Lighthouse, Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego, California, by F. Ross Holland, Jr. and Henry G. Law, National Park Service, Denver, Co. 1981.
 
 
Post Civil War Battery
 
President Millard Fillmore signed an Executive Order on February 26, 1852 establishing the Point Loma Military Reservation, which consisted of 1,300.42 acres. The northern boundary of the reservation was a straight line from the bay to the ocean 1.5 miles north of Ballast Point. Neither Congress nor the War Department took action at this time to fortify the bay. The first United States census in California, in 1850, showed a population in the San Diego area of 798 people.
 
The Army's Chief Engineer, Joseph G. Totten, inspected the Pacific Coast regarding its defenses in the winter of 1859 to 1860. He agreed with the findings of the earlier commissions on Pacific Coast defenses, particularly with regard to San Diego. He noted that it stood at one end of a 500-mile coastline with San Francisco at the other end. "The admirable properties of San Diego Harbor - deep, close, roomy and defensible - its position just at the southern limit of our possessions, with no other to compare with it within a long distance, raise it beyond all question into the first class; and demand for its defenses." Despite all the praises of its merits, San Diego Bay remained undefended as the nation drifted toward civil war.
 
The first battery proposed for San Diego in 1873 for fifteen 15-inch Rodmans. Only one magazine was completed by 1874 when all fortifications appropriations were cancelled. Note location of the earlier 1796 Spanish Fort Guijarros at the apex of the chevron. (National Archives, Record Group 77, Fortifications File, Drawer 102, Sheet 10.
 


The City of San Diego disputed the federal government's claim to the reservation, but in 1872 the Secretary of the Interior declared it a federal reserve.
 
After the Civil War, the new senior engineer on the Pacific Coast, Major Barton Stone Alexander, convened a board of engineers in 1867 to consider the future of the coastal defenses. This time San Diego was included in the planning. By the 1870 census the population of San Diego had grown to almost 5,000 and a railroad was planned.
 
The Pacific Board forwarded plans for fortifications at Point Loma to Washington in May 1871. Finally, after several redesigns, the Secretary of War, William W. Belknap, approved the plans in March 1873. It called for an earthwork containing guns mounted in pairs and the pairs separated by earthen traverses, each containing a magazine. A slight mound shown to the east of the battery and just outside the parapet seemed to mark the site of ancient Fort Guijarros.
 
Congress passed an appropriation of $50,000 for San Diego for fiscal year 1874. In May 1874 Lieutenant John H. Weeden, Corps of Engineers, accompanied by his superior officer, Lieutenant Colonel Charles S. Stewart, arrived from San Francisco and commenced work at Ballast Point. Temporary quarters for overseers sprang up, as did a storehouse, mess house, and a stable. One concrete magazine had been completed at the western end of the battery before the project ran out of funds. Congress refused to appropriate new funds until the late 1890s. By then there were entirely new plans, which resulted in the removal of the earlier works. Had the battery been completed it would have resembled the Battery Cavallo on San Francisco Bay, also begun at that time.
 
During the 15 years that Congress refused to appropriate funds for new construction of coastal fortifications, it did allow for the protection, preservation and repair of existing works. Lieutenant Colonel Charles Stewart, in the Engineers' San Francisco office, became responsible for the maintenance of Fort Point batteries at the Presidio of San Francisco and the battery at Point Loma. About $1,500 was allotted annually for each area, most of which went to pay civilian "fort keepers." Stewart and his successors visited San Diego from time to time, but these trips involved primarily the Corps of Engineers' civil works concerning San Diego Bay.
 
 
The Great Fort Batteries
 
In 1894, six engineers from the San Francisco Office of the Corps of Engineers formed a committee and visited San Diego to determine the location of batteries on Point Loma. One of these was the renowned Colonel Mendell. They noted that San Diego now had a population of 30,000 and that it had a railroad connection to the rest of the country. They selected the site of the original 1874 work and another at about 300 feet above the water south of the Lighthouse. They also visited Coronado Beach where they selected a site 1.5 miles south of the Coronado Hotel for a mortar battery of 16 12-inch mortars that would cover the ocean area in front of San Diego and National City. This battery would be protected by three rapid-fire guns to repel landing parties. The committee also suggested some rapid-fire guns at Ballast Point to cover the submarine minefield and to repel landing parties. A minefield and casemate were proposed.
 
A 1902 detailed engineering drawing of Batteries McGrath, Wilkeson and Fetterman. (National Archives, RG 77, Fortifications File, Drawer 256, Sheet 3-15.)
Endicott Period

 Battery name

 Number of Guns

 Type of Gun

 Type of Carriage

 Constructed

 Completed

 Decommisioned
Wilkeson

 1

10 Inch M1895

 M1896 Disappearing
 

 1900

 1943

Wilkeson

 1

 10 Inch M1888MI

  M1896 Disappearing
 

 1900

 1943

Calef

2

 10 Inch M1888MI

  M1896MI Disappearing
 

 1900

 1943

 McGrath

 2

 5 Inch M1897

 M1896 Ballanced Pillar
 

1900

 1943 (1)

 Fetterman

 2

 3 Inch M1898

  M1898 Masking Pedestal
 

1900

 1940 (2)
(1) Battery McGrath's guns were removed in 1917. In 1919 the guns of Battery Meed at Fort Pio Pico were transfered to Battery McGrath.
(2) The concrete emplacement of Battery Fetterman was destroyed in July 1940.
 
Taft Period

 Battery name

 Number of Guns

 Type of Gun

 Type of Carriage

 Constructed

 Completed

 Decommisioned
Whistler

 4

12 Inch M1890MI

 M1896MI Mortar

 1914

 1916

 1942

 John White

 4

12 Inch M1890MI 

 M1896MI Mortar

 1914

 1916

 1942
Four of these mortars were from Fort DeSoto, Florida, and 4 were from Fort DuPont, Delaware. Battery Whistler is now substantially altered to a underwater testing tank facility. The breeches for a 12î and a 16î naval gun are also inside.
 
 
World War II Temporary
 

 Battery name

 Number of Guns

 Type of Gun

 Type of Carriage

 Constructed

 Completed

 Decommisioned
Zeilin

2

7 inch Naval

 Pedestal

 1937

 1937

 1943 (1)

Gillespie

3

5 inch Naval

 Pedestal

 1937

 1937

 1943 (1)

 North

4

 155mm

 Panama Mount

 1942

 1942

 1943 (2)

 Point Loma

4

 155mm

 Panama Mount

 1942

 1942

194? 
(1) These were temporary constructions, no trace remains at the site.
(2) North Battery guns transfered to Battery Imperial in 1943?
1940 Program
 

 Battery name

 Number of Guns

 Type of Gun

 Type of Carriage

 Constructed

 Completed

 Decommisioned
Fredrick S. Strong

2

8 inch MarkVI M3A2

 Long Range Barbette, M1

 1938

 1941

1946

 Thomas Q. Ashburn

2

16 inch MarkIIMI

 Casemated Long Range Barbette M1919M4

 1942

 1943

1948

237 (1)

2

 6 inch M1903A2

 Shielded Long Range Barbette M1

 1942

 1943

194?

 Charles Humphreys

4

 6 inch M1903A2

 Shielded Long Range Barbette M1

 1942

 1943

194? 
(1) Battery Contructions 237 was unofficially named Charles G. Woodward.
 

Mine Casemate

In 1897, the first mining casemate at San Diego was constructed one-eighth of a mile north of Battery Wilkeson. Soon a concrete cable tank and mine storehouse were added. First Lieutenant Meyler supervised the construction. During the Spanish-American War, Meyler received orders to mine the channel. In April 1898 hundreds of volunteers, working with a small group of mine professionals, succeeded in planting fifteen mines in the entrance channel. The Revenue Cutter Corwin patrolled the harbor entrance and two smoothbore 1863 Napoleon cannon from the San Diego Barracks were placed to protect the minefields. The mines remained planted until September when the threat from Spanish invasion ended. They were taken up, cleaned and stored. The cannon were used for years as salute guns at Fort Rosecrans. After that, for years they were mounted on the porch to the Fort Headquarters. In 2004, both guns are on new field carriages and placed at the entrance to the San Diego Maritime Museum
 
Meyler became a captain in July 1898.
 
The mining casemate was demolished in 1988 to make space available for bachelor quarters on the Naval Submarine Base.
 
Reports of Completed Works - Seacoast Fortification: Mine Casement and Supporting Buildings
Historic American Building Survey: Fort Rosecrans, Mining Casemate, Point Loma, San Diego, San Diego County, CA
 
 
Fort Rosecrans

In February 1898, Captain Charles Humphreys, Commanding Officer of San Diego Barracks, dispatched Lieutenant George T. Patterson and twenty-two enlisted men of Company D, 3rd Artillery Regiment to Ballast Point to camp. The military reservation at Point Loma was finally occupied by artillerymen. The following month Humphreys led the remainder of the company to the new camp. While Humphreys soon returned to his headquarters office, the company remained at Ballast Point throughout the summer, returning to the Barracks in August. A detachment remained at Ballast Point during the following months to occupy and guard the new 10-inch battery.
 
It was appropriate that Battery D, 3rd Artillery, was the first to occupy the new Fort, for Battery D had been the last unit to occupy the San Diego Mission, then a military post. That was back in 1858, when the battery was ordered into Washington Territory to fight Indians. Now, forty years later, a detachment of twenty soldiers from the same old battery arrived from San Diego Barracks, under 2nd Lieutenant George T. Patterson on February 2, 1898.
 
In July 1900, the battery was ordered to China and saw action in the Boxer Uprising. Duty in the Philippines and in France during World War I intervened before the battery returned to Fort Rosecrans on July 1, 1924.
 
The War Department named the reservation Fort Rosecrans in General Orders 134, July 22, 1899, in honor of Major General William Starke Rosecrans who had died in 1898. Rosecrans graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1842 and accepted an appointment as Lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers. He resigned from the Army in 1854 to enter the oil industry in Pennsylvania. He returned to active duty upon the outbreak of the Civil War. Rosecrans rose rapidly in rank, becoming a Major General of volunteers in 1862. At first successful against Confederate forces, he was defeated by General Braxton Bragg at Chickamauga in 1863. Following the war, he resigned again to serve as U.S. Minister to Mexico. Later he engaged in mining and railroad operations in Mexico and California and was well known in San Diego. He visited San Diego in 1871 in the interests of the Texas and Pacific Railroad. At that time he is said to have offered Alonzo Horton $250,000 for New San Diego.
 
From 1881 to 1885, he served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for California. In 1889, he returned to active duty for a few days with the rank of Brigadier General in the Regular Army.
 
When the 28th Company, Coast Artillery arrived from duty in the Philippines in 1901, it occupied both the San Diego Barracks and Fort Rosecrans. Major Anthony W. Vodges, Artillery Corps, commanded both posts. On August 20,1901, the 115th Company Coast Artillery was formed at the San Diego Barracks and then transferred to Fort Rosecrans where it remained until July 1, 1924 when it was sent to Puget Sound. At that time the 28th Company was also transferred to the Columbia River. For the next two years, one company was stationed at Fort Rosecrans and one at the Barracks. They rotated monthly so that both companies could engage in target practice at the batteries. Troop transfers were usually made by water by means of the steam-propeller launch General DeRussy and the motor launch Lieutenant George M. Harris. On occasion, the companies marched overland the 8.7 miles.
 
On August 6, 1903, Fort Rosecrans was organized as a separate post and both companies were permanently stationed there. Captain Adrian S. Fleming, Artillery Corps, became the Commanding Officer for both Fort Rosecrans and the Artillery District of San Diego. The garrison consisted of five officers and 192 enlisted men. To celebrate their new arrangements, the troops held a field day on August 22. The post returns show that the companies were becoming proficient at Batteries Wilkeson, McGrath, Fetterman, and James Meed. The 30th Company had eight 1st Class and sixteen 2nd Class gunners, while the 115th Company had fourteen and eleven respectively.
 
The post barracks and operations buildings were constructed from 1901 to 1904. All were of frame construction except the Post Exchange, which later became the post headquarters and this was built of brick.
 
In September 1903, General Arthur MacArthur, Commanding the Department of California, made a two-day inspection of the post.
 
Service at Fort Rosecrans was considered highly desirable and applications for transfer or re-enlistment of discharged soldiers into its companies were being received constantly. As a result, the garrison was maintained at full strength with capable and experienced soldiers. It was jokingly called an "old soldiers' home" and many of those who served there when discharged or retired from the service, became substantial citizens of San Diego and the surrounding community.
 
From 1911 to the outbreak of World War I the garrison was active in patrolling the Mexican border, housing and guarding interned military prisoners captured at the border while fleeing from Mexico, and assisting in the training of the California National Guard.
 
The border troubles with Mexico climaxed in 1916 when President Woodrow Wilson ordered Major General John J. Pershing to head a punitive expedition of 15,000 men to pursue the rebel Pancho Villa into Mexico and called out 150,000 National Guards to secure the border. Between this activity and World War I raging in Europe, Fort Rosecrans tightened security. Vessels entering the harbor were required to identify themselves and the coastal defenses were strengthened.
 
The garrison was always a part of the civic activities of San Diego both for visiting dignitaries of the City and for dress parades in many celebrations. The 4 10-inch guns were often fired for visiting dignitaries. The Fort Rosecrans companies took an active part in the Panama-California International Exposition in 1915.
 
During World War I, in addition to its own complete garrison, the 4th, 15th and 18th coast artillery companies assisted them. The 1st Battalion of the 65th Coast Artillery, the 54th Ammunition Train and the 1st and 2nd Antiaircraft Batteries were organized and trained at Fort Rosecrans and then sent to Europe. Elsewhere in the San Diego area were the 21st Infantry Regiment and the 14th Aero Squadron in training, the latter at Rockwell Field.
 
 

Fort Rosecrans: Troop inspection by Brigadier General T. H. Bliss of the 28th and 115th Companies, Coast Artillery Corps, October 1911. Fort Rosecrans was considered a "preferred post" by the troops. Two boats would transport troops to San Diego for passes and leave. Note the brick administration building and three story barracks next to it. Photograph courtesy of the San Diego Historical Society, San Diego, No. 6441.

 
The Fort Rosecrans Barracks as part of the Naval Base. Photograph by the author, 1996.


In 1922 the Coast Artillery did not have enough men to fully garrison all of its stations in the United States and also maintain the overseas garrisons at sufficient strength. Consequently, some of the forts went on caretaker status and Fort Rosecrans was one of them.
 
In 1925 the Coast Defenses of San Diego were renamed the Harbor Defenses of San Diego.
 
While it was in caretaker status, Fort Rosecrans on two occasions provided quarters for troops other than artillery. In 1930, it became headquarters for the Sixth Infantry Brigade, Commanded by Brigadier General Ralph H. VanDeman, who moved his headquarters here from the interior. A troop of the 11th Cavalry was stationed at Fort Rosecrans from October 1931, following the abandonment of Camp Hearn at Imperial Beach. In August 1932 they moved on to Monterey.
 
In July 1935, there were 48 officers and men at Fort Rosecrans.
 
The threat of war in 1939 caused the modernization of the defenses of San Diego. Colonel P. H. Ottosen reported in September 1940 that units of the 19th Coast Artillery Regiment were being activated at Fort Rosecrans and others would be formed in the near future. In October 1940, the construction quartermaster received orders to erect temporary buildings for an increase in enlisted strength of 2,022 men. The 1917 cantonment buildings were razed and replaced with modern versions. Some were close to the post and others were on the upper part of the reservation. The later ones were turned over to the Navy after World War II and became part of the Naval Electronics Laboratory.
 
In 1942, the 262nd and in 1943 the 281st Coast Artillery Battalions were organized and trained at the post and sent overseas while other units used the Fort for special training.
 
After World War II Fort Rosecrans was again placed on caretaker status and its armament removed. On July 1, 1959, the reservation was transferred to the Navy Department. However, the headquarters for Army Reserve components in the San Diego area remain there in 1959.
National Cemetery
 
Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, on the crest of the point, first was used as a burial ground for San Diego Barracks and was known as "Post Cemetery, San Diego Barracks." The first burial there was that of Private John T. Welch of Company I, 8th Infantry, on October 5, 1879. When the Fort was established it became Fort Rosecrans Post Cemetery and was so designated until 1935 when it became Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. Originally about on acre, it now is many times that size. Inside the stonewall of the original area lie the remains of the soldiers of the First Dragoons who were killed at the Battle of San Pasqual, December 6, 1846. A granite boulder from the battlefield bears a bronze plaque with the names of the soldiers, while nearby are the graves of the two company commanders, Captain Benjamin D. Moore and his brother-in-law, 2nd Lieutenant Thomas C. Hammond, killed while leading the attack. The grave of Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Louis S. Craig, 3rd Infantry, murdered on the Colorado desert by two Army deserters whom he was trying to persuade to return to their station at Fort Craig, New Mexico. Buried there also are the remains of Albert B. Smith, who spiked the Mexican guns at the Old Town Presidio and nailed the American flag to the flagpole in the Plaza, while under fire by Mexican snipers. A tall granite obelisk marks the last resting place of the many American sailors who died in the boiler explosion aboard the U.S.S. Bennington in San Diego Harbor July 21, 1905.
General George Ruhlen, Jr.
 
The name Lieutenant George Ruhlen, Jr. first appeared in Fort Rosecrans post returns in January 1911, when he was assigned to the 28th Company. He was to have a long association with the post both directly and indirectly. In February he led one of the detachments to the Mexican border. By May 1912 he had become the commanding officer of the 28th Company. He and the company participated in the Memorial Day Parade in San Diego on May 30. In August he transferred to the Coast Artillery School at Fort Monroe, Virginia. Several years later, in 1918, Major Ruhlen returned to Fort Rosecrans temporarily to act as umpire for practice at the 4 10-inch rifles. From 1927 to 1931, he was stationed in San Diego as a coast artillery instructor for the California National Guard. He served as Commanding Officer of Fort Rosecrans from 1933 to 1935. After retirement from the Army in 1944, Colonel Ruhlen settled in San Diego where he became President of the San Diego Historical Society. He published often on the history of the military in San Diego.

 
 
 
 
Upper, Fort Rosecrans's 12-Pounder "Napoleon being fired for a salute, circa 1900. Courtesy of the San Diego Historical Society, 89:17224. Middle, Fort Rosecrans' two 12-Pounder Napoleon" Cannon on carriages wth limbers, 1918. Note the two M-1861 3-inch Ordnance Rifles on the left. Courtesy of Point Loma Camera Photograph Collection, San Diego, California. Lower, The two "Napoleons" mounted on the porch of the Fort Rosecrans Administration Building, 1959. Courtesy of the San Diego Historical Society, San Diego, 15080.
 
 

Power House

In 1905, a central power house was built behind Battery Wilkeson in what was known locally as "Power House Canyon." It served all the batteries and the 30-inch coastal searchlight that had been installed near Battery McGrath in 1902. The searchlight had its own 10 kw direct current power supply before this improvement.
 
Report of Completed Works - Seacoast Fortifications: Power House
 
 

Searchlights
 
The 1905 Taft Board's recommendation for batteries of coastal searchlights became a reality on Point Loma between 1918 and 1919. The first 30-inch light had been set up near Battery McGrath in 1902. The Chief of Engineers approved 8 60-inch lights arranged in four batteries. These were referred to as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8.
 
Lights 1 and 2 were located in the northwest part of the reservation at 190 and 97 feet respectively. Both were raised on an elevator from storage vaults below ground. Their powerhouse was located in a nearby ravine.
 
Lights 3 and 4 were located at the southern tip of Point Loma at 97 and 285 feet respectively. Number 3 was mounted in an upright shelter on tracks using an existing installation above Battery McGrath. The old 30-inch light was replaced with the newer 60-inch design. Number 4 was a new light on an elevator lift and stored below ground in a vault. An existing powerhouse was refurbished for their use.

Lights 5 and 6 were located near the base of a hill on the southeast portion of Point Loma at elevations of 218 and 144 feet respectively. Number 5 was located in an above ground shelter and moved on tracks to its observation location while Number 6 was located at a fixed position in a below ground vault. A power house was constructed to support lights 5 and 6. Four 25 kw D.C. generators sets were purchased for the four new lights.
 
Lights 7 and 8 were placed at Fort Pio Pico where one 60-inch light had been placed earlier. The two lights were mounted on tilting towers. A new powerhouse was constructed for the two lights.
Engineers completed shelters for lights 1, 2, 5 and 6 in April 1919. The costs were $2,300 each. All shelters were reinforced concrete. Those above ground had steel doors and rails and those underground had sliding steel roofs and manually operated elevators.
 
Many more searchlights were added during the early 1940s. Most of these were portable 60-inch. As a result the eight existing permanent lights were renumbered. Lights 5 and 6 became 11 and 12. These were renumbered again to 18 and 19. A ninth permanent light was added on the west side of Point Loma during the war and numbered 15. By wars' end there were 27 lights at 14 sites from Cardiff to the Mexican border.
 
Report of Completed Works - Seacoast Fortifications: Searchlights
 
 
 
 
The searchlight was a wonder weapon of the early 20th Century. Electricity made it possible to illuminate the scene at night. Above is Artilleryman Paul T. Mizony next to a 60-Inch Light shown here in 1908. Courtesy of the San Diego Historical Society, 94:19321. Lower, is a drawing of a later version of the 60-inch Lamp. National Archives RG 77, OCE.

 
 
A 60-inch Searchlight installation from which the light could be moved on a cart several hundred feet to the desired location. The light was stored in an above ground housing. Photographs for March 12, 1920. Courtesy of the Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles District.
 

Upper, above ground housing for the searchlight shown above. Note the power supply controls at the back of the housing. Lower, Power Plant containing two direct current gasoline powered generators for two lights. Photographs March 12, 1920. Courtesy of the Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles District.

 
 
 
 
Upper, A 60-inch Searchlight in a fixed position shown here raised by a hand cranked elevator from its below ground storage vault. Note manhole in lower left. Lower, a view Into the vault showing some of the mechanism. A metal cover slides back to uncover the light when In use. Photographs dated March 20, 1920. Courtesy of the Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles District.
 
 

Radio Station
 

World War I stimulated several developments in San Diego coastal defenses. Among them was the 1917 authorization to construct an Army radio station at Fort Rosecrans. Engineers located it 300 feet northwest of the old lighthouse with the towers between the two. The building cost approximately $3,582.07 and the towers $1,150. It was operational in 1918 but for some reason it was not turned over to the Coast Artillery until 1919. This did not prevent a "very zealous and enthusiastic radio instructor, Lieutenant MacFadden" from placing the apparatus in service prematurely. The district engineer demanded an explanation and got an apology. A couple of months later, a Naval lieutenant officially turned in the equipment and the artillery engineer took charge of the station. Among its duties was the challenging of vessels approaching the harbor during international emergencies. During World War II, the Army and Navy radios operated from the harbor defense command post and the radio station became the meteorological station for the Coast Artillery. When the National Park Service personnel manned the area after World War II, the superintendent established his offices in the building until the present administration building was erected.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Base End Stations
 
Two of the World War II Base End Stations on Point Loma. Photograph by the author, 1997.

Major William C. Davis, commanding Fort Rosecrans in 1913, noted that it was time for the installation of standard fire control equipment. The Army engineers prepared plans for Battery Wilkeson that provided for two battery commanders' (BC) stations, two primary stations (B1), and two secondary stations (B2), the last to be built at Fort Pio Pico across the channel. In addition stations were to be built for the Fort and fire commanders.
 
By the end of World War I eight base end stations, four on Point Loma and four at Fort Pio Pico, were in operation. Two of these stations, then called B1/3 and B1/4, remain on the east side of Point Loma. At that time they were the primary stations for Batteries Wilkeson and Calef. By 1918, all of North Island had become federal property, the Navy using the north half for aviation purposes and the Army having established Rockwell Field in the southern half. The Engineers took advantage of this situation and moved four base end stations from Fort Pio Pico farther east on the newly acquired land thus lengthening the base lines by nearly 2,000 feet.

In 1917, the Chief of Ordnance notified the Coast Artillery that fourteen Warner and Swasey azimuth instruments, Model 1910, would be sent to Fort Rosecrans for use in the new fire control stations. The position finder instrument in use at that time was the Swasey Depression Range Finder, Type A, Model 1910.
 
Although the standard fire control system for the defenses of San Diego had not been completed by 1920, the Corps of Engineers turned over a substantial number of stations to the commanding officer that year.
 
 
Report of Completed Works - Seacoast Fortifications: Base End Stations
 

First Base End Stations for Fort Rosecrans, 1920
 
 
Defense Additons
 
In 1932, the National Harbor Defense Board became concerned that the San Diego Harbor defenses were no longer adequate for the growing threat from foreign Naval forces. The four 10-inch guns could defend only the entrance to the harbor but not engage the enemy at long ranges. A new project for 2 8-inch Naval guns on barbette carriages similar to Battery Wallace at Fort Barry was proposed. A local board, composed of Engineer and Coast Artillery Officers, met at San Diego in 1933 to select sites for new batteries. For an 8-inch battery it selected a site near Battery Whistler. It also chose a site for one battery of 155-mm guns at Point Loma near the new lighthouse. In 1935 the War Department directed the Los Angeles District Engineers to prepare plans for the 8-inch battery. In 1936, the harbor defense plans were completely overhauled. The 8-inch battery was still in the plans but added to this were two batteries of 16-inch guns, construction Nos. 126 and 134, and three batteries of rapid-fire 6-inch guns, constructions Nos. 237, 238 and 239. When these five batteries were armed the older existing batteries would be abandoned. The 155-mm battery was also retained.


Radar Sets for Coast Defense

Coastal Radar, SCR-296A, was added to the harbor defenses in early 1943. The first three sets were erected near Battery Strong in north Fort Rosecrans, near the new lighthouse at Point Loma and the Mexican border. Later in the year, three additional sets were authorized for La Jolla, Fort Rosecrans at the signal tower and Fort Emory.

In the summer of 1942, the United States erected three Radar stations in Baja, California. These were at Punta Salsipuedes, twenty miles northwest of Ensenada; Punta San Jacinto, 125 miles south of Ensenada and Punta Diggs on the northeast coast of the peninsula.

American personnel operated the stations at first and taught Mexican soldiers how to operate them so that in August 1942, the Mexican Army took over the operations under the provisions of lend-lease.
 
Report of Completed Works - Seacoast Fortifications: Seacoast Radar Sites
Radar Coverage Maps
 

 

 
SCR-296 Fixed Coast Artillery Gun-Laying Medium Wave Radar Set
 
 

Description: Fixed Coast Artillery gun-laying medium wave radar, assigned to modern 6 inch or larger batteries.

Uses: Set is designed to track a surface target in range and azimuth. Data are sent to the plotting room and used in firing. An SCR-296-A normally is assigned to one battery, but may furnish data to more. Works with IFF RC-136-A.

Performance & Sitting: Range is shown on "A" scope. The target is tracked in azimuth with a pip matching oscilloscope or a zero-center meter. Range accuracy is about ± 30 yards while azimuth accuracy is about ± 0.20 degree under the best conditions. The set has a dependable range of 20,000 yards on a destroyer size target when employed at a height of 145 feet. Site should be not less than 100 feet above sea level; 150 to 500 feet is recommended.

Mobility: Shipment includes areas and separate generator. When crated the total weight is 91,763 lbs. Largest unit is 5,270 lbs.

Installation: SCR-296-A includes a tower, an operating building, and two power plant buildings. The tower is obtainable in heights of 25, 50, 75, and 100 feet. Concrete floors must be put in locally.

Personnel: Operating crew consists of 5 men in addition to a power plant operator and maintenance man who should be available at all times.

Power: Primary power of 2.3 KW is supplied by PE-84C -- commercial or auxiliary 110 V, AC single phase. Generator needs high octane gasoline.

    For more information on the SCR-296 radar set CLICK HERE
 

Harbor Defense Command Post (HDCP)

During the World War II period, the center of operations of the defenses at Fort Rosecrans was the Harbor Defense Post. Its function was similar to that at San Francisco Fort Winfield Scott. This bombproof structure had a 12 by 12-foot observation station. Covered stairs led from it down to two underground rooms, one measuring 15 by 20-feet contained telephones and charts. The other 20 by 20-foot space served as the antiaircraft message center. Connected to the HDCP were fire control stations for Battery Strong and the Group Commanders. The harbor entrance was controlled from here as well as all the batteries located on Point Loma and points south. The HDCP became operational in 1941.

As a part of the Harbor Entrance Control Post (HECP), which was located in the HDCP, the old lighthouse was requisitioned as the harbor entrance signal station. On May 17, 1941, the Secretary of the Interior issued a special use permit to the War Department that turned over Cabrillo National Monument for military use. The Los Angeles District Engineer designed a signal mast in connection with the conversion of the old lighthouse into an HECP signal station. The lighthouse now became the signal station and was equipped with a signaling searchlight, an observation instrument and telephone communication to Battery McGrath, the alert battery, and the alert searchlight. A temporary signal mast was installed along with a set of flags for visual signaling to surface craft. At a later time the "classified" radar equipment was installed on the mast and a viewing station located in the basement of the lighthouse.

During World War II, three organizations composed the Harbor Defenses of San Diego. These were the Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, HDSD; the 19th Coast Artillery Regiment (HD), and the 166th Station Hospital with 250 beds.

The 19th Coast Artillery Regiment consisted of a headquarters battery, searchlight battery, and three battalions, each with a headquarters battery and three lettered companies. In addition the 141st Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop was attached to Fort Rosecrans.
 
Record of Sompleted Works Seacoast Fortifications: Harbor Defensce Command Post and Harbor Entrance Control Command Post
 
 

Final Fire Control Stations

The base end stations built during World War II for the new batteries had either one or two levels, were constructed of concrete and usually had steel roofs. Unlike the older stations described earlier, they were camouflaged with rocks cemented on their roofs. The two-level stations had an extra room at the rear of the lower level. Observers often used this room as sleeping quarters although it was not authorized as such.

Although the designations of these stations may seem bewildering at first glance, there was logic to the numbering system, for example, B5/3S5/3. The batteries at San Diego were listed in a tactical order. The lower number "3" indicates that this is a base end station for the battery that had the tactical number 3, which was Battery Ashburn. The upper number "5" indicates that this was Battery Ashburn's fifth base-end station.

By July 1945 there were 41 stations that ranged from Solana Beach (Santa Fe) in the north to the Mexican border. These stations are presented in the following table.

Additional fire control stations included the combination HDCP-HECP, Battalion One Command Post (CP), Battalion Two CP, the meteorological station, the former Army radio building, and the fire control switchboard, all at Fort Rosecrans. A Fort command post and Battalion Three CP at Fort Emory were planned but not built. Battalions had replaced the former Groups by 1945.

By 1943, several of the older fire control stations were unassigned; their batteries were abandoned by then. Among them were the base end stations for Battery Calef-Wilkeson.

The tactical numbers assigned to the batteries at the end of the war were: 1. Battery Woodward, 2. Battery Strong, 3. Battery Ashburn, 4. Battery Cabrillo, 5. Batteries Humphreys and Bluff, 6. Battery McGrath, 7. Battery Fetterman (II), Battery Cortez, 9. Deferred 16-inch battery Construction No. 134, 10. Battery Grant.
 
Report of Completed Works - Seacoast Fortifications: Base End Stations
 
 

Final Base End Stations Source: The Guns of San Diego, by Erwin N. Thompson, 1991.
 

The Units During World War II
 
Three military units were activated at Fort Rosecrans in 1942 and 1943. The 262nd Coast Artillery Battalion, consisting of a headquarters battery and two lettered companies, organized in May 1942 and departed for duty in Alaska in November where the Japanese had occupied Attu and Kiska. Black soldiers formed the second unit, the 77th Chemical Smoke Generator Company in April 1942. This outfit remained in San Diego where it established the smoke generator defense of the area. The third outfit, the 281st Coast Artillery Battalion, was at Fort Rosecrans from February to May 1943 after which it departed for the South Pacific.

Elsewhere in the San Diego area a large number of Army units, including the 140th and 125th Infantry Regiments, the 33rd Coast Artillery Brigade (AA), and the 770th Military Police Battalion, maintained guard. All these units were under the command of the Southern California Sector, which was activated December 8, 1941, under the leadership of Major General Joseph Stillwell. During the war the U.S. Navy had fifteen activities at San Diego, including the Naval Repair Base, Destroyer Base, Naval Air Station on North Island, Naval Training Station, Naval Supply Depot, Naval Amphibious Base at Coronado, and Naval Hospital at Balboa Park.

Starting in January 1944, the number of troops assigned to the San Diego area began to decline. Colonel Ottosen, besides commanding the harbor defenses, took over command of the Army's San Diego Sub-Sector and moved its headquarters, along with the 115th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, to Fort Rosecrans. In June the Cavalry transferred to Louisiana, the sub-sector was deactivated, and two platoons of the 141st Cavalry Troop were attached to the harbor defenses.

During 1944, a number of tank and antiaircraft battalions garrisoned the Fort while they trained in amphibious landings for operations in the Pacific. The 19th Coast Artillery Regiment was deactivated that fall, the 1st Battalion becoming the 19th Coast Artillery Battalion (HD), and the 2nd Battalion, the 523rd Coast Artillery Battalion (HD). The downgrading of the harbor defenses speeded up in 1945. Most of the personnel transferred overseas. The Harbor Defense Command post ceased operations in August, two days before Japan's surrender. In September the two harbor defense battalions were deactivated and the garrison now consisted of a headquarters battery and four lettered batteries. Both the Army and the Navy discontinued their activities at the Harbor Entrance Control Post that same month. The 24-hour alert for almost 50 months had come to an end.

During the war years, the "Groups" had given way to the "Battalion" command posts. Battalion CP1 controlled those elements charged with the defense of the channel entrance to San Diego Bay, that is, the AMTB batteries. Battalion CP2 controlled those elements that could attack enemy Naval forces approaching from the north. Battalion CP3, located at Fort Emory, was to have controlled the weapons that could attack an enemy approaching from the south.

Detailed lists of the units at Fort Rosecrans' batteries during the war years and a list of the Fort commanding officers are given in the References.
 

The Navy Takes Over

At the end of World War II the demise of the Harbor Defenses of San Diego came swiftly. In March 1947, Fort Rosecrans was placed in a caretaking status with a garrison of 101. The 49 year-old Fort became a sub-installation of Fort MacArthur at Los Angeles effective December 1, 1948. The Harbor Defenses of San Diego were formally discontinued on January 1, 1950.

The Department of the Army transferred Fort Rosecrans to the Department of the Navy in May 1957. The Army, however, did not leave the installation until March 1959 and the Navy occupied the Fort in June. The Fort's Regular Army detachment of one officer and four enlisted men turned over to the Navy the 557-acre post. There were no ceremonies.
Eighty acres of the post were transferred to the Department of the Interior for Cabrillo National Monument and 15 acres went to the Department of the Treasury for Lighthouses. The Navy had already acquired the balance of Fort Rosecrans' original 1,300 acres.

The Navy had first come to Point Loma in 1904 when the War Department transferred the north end of Fort Rosecrans to the Navy for a coaling station and, in 1906, a Naval radio station. Point Loma Naval Reservation today has a Submarine Base, Degaussing Station, Naval Supply Center, Fleet Combat Training and the Naval Ocean Systems Center. Most of the original batteries became work and storage facilities for the Navy operations after the guns had been removed. Many of the Fort's original barracks and officers' quarters are used by the Submarine Base as officers' quarters. Fort Emory at Imperial Beach was transferred to the Navy in 1947 as part of the Naval Radio Station, which had been established there in 1920. So, in a different way, the harbor defenses of San Diego continue to exist today.
 

Nike Batteries
 
There were no Nike batteries built in the San Diego area.
 
 
References: Fort Rosecrans, California by George Ruhlen, Colonel, United States Army, Retired, San Diego Historical Society Quarterly, pgs. 60-68, October, 1959; The Guns of San Diego, San Diego Harbor Defenses, 1796-1947, Historic Resource Study Cabrillo National Monument, by Erwin N. Thompson, Edited by Howard B. Overton, San Diego National Park Service, 1991; The 19th Coast Artillery and Fort Rosecrans: Remembrances, Compiled and Edited by Howard B. Overton, National Park Service Cabrillo National Monument, 1993; Naval Oceans Systems Center, Historical Sites Map and Site Descriptions, T. J. LaPuzza, Public Affairs Officer, 1995; Coast Defense Study Group Journal, Volume 8, 1994.
 

Fort Rosecrans, Circa 1921
 


 
 
San Diego Air Force Reserve Recovery Center
 
Undated US Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District History
 
The former San Diego AF Reserve Recovery Center was located on the Fort Rosecrans Military Reservation, Point Loma, San Diego, California.

On 01 October, 1954, the Department of the Air Force acquired Building No. 137 from the Department of the Army by a Use Permit dated 22 November, 1954. The property was later transferred to the Department of the Navy on 03 December, 1957. During the period from 01 October, 1959 to 24 April, 1960, the Air Force continued to use the building without a permit. On 21 April, 1960, the Department of the Navy signed a Use Permit granting the Department of the Air Force permission to use Building No. 137 and an adjacent parking area for a period of five years starting 25 April, 1960.

The San Diego AF Reserve Recovery Center was used by the Department of the Air Force for the training of USAF Reserve personnel. There is no record of any modifications or additions to the building or the parking area.

On 24 April, 1965, the 0.03 Acre was retransferred to the Department of the Navy (This figure seems small but is a direct quote from the Tract Register dated 21 March, 1966). No settlement costs or outstanding rights were involved. There were no visual or olfactory clues that any hazardous and/or toxic material, ordnance, or dangerous rubble was left over from the period in which the Department of the Air Force occupied the building.
 
 
US Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District History (1989)
 
Description of Site: The site consists of a parking area and a three story building which faces east and is located at the northwest corner of Sylvester Road and White Road on the Naval
Submarine Base, San Diego. All that remained of the adjacent parking area were parking spaces along the service road just to the northwest of Building No. 137. The rest of the parking area
is now a landscaped lawn.

Site History
: On 22 November, 1954, the Department of the Army signed a permit granting the Department of the Air Force use of Building No. 137 at Fort Rosecrans Military Reservation,
California, for a period of five years from 01 October, 1954 to 30 September, 1959. The purpose of the permit was to provide facilities for the training of u.S. Air Force Reserve personnel. On 03 December, 1957, the property covered by the above permit was transferred to the Department of the Navy.

During the period from 01 October, 1959 to 24 April, 1960, the Air Force continued to use the building without a permit. On 21 April, 1960, the Department of the Navy signed a license
granting the Department of the Air Force permission to use Building No. 137 and the adjacent automobile parking area for a period of five years from 25 April. 1960 to 24 April. 1965. The
building and adjacent parking area were retransferred to the Department of the Navy on 24 April. 1965.
 
 
Units Stationed at Fort Rosecrans
 
Order of Battle of United States Land Forces in the World War (1931-1949)
World War I
54th Ammunition Train
25th Artillery Regiment
1st - 3rd and 4th (Headquarters) Coast Defense Companies, Fort Rosecrans
1st, 2nd (I), 2nd (II), 3rd, 4th (I), 4th (II), 5th (I), 5th (II), 6th (I), 6th (II) and 7th - 13th Companies, Coast Defense of San Diego
US Army Order of Battle 1919-1941 1919-1941
Headquarters, Harbor Defenses of San Diego
Annual Training Units:
976th Coast Artillery Regiment (Organized Reserves)
US Army Order of Battle 1919-1941 1919-1922
1st and 3rd Companies, Coast Defenses of San Diego
US Army Order of Battle 1919-1941 1922-1924
28th Coast Artillery Company
US Army Order of Battle 1919-1941 1924-1941
2nd Battalion, 3rd Coast Artillery Regiment
US Army Order of Battle 1919-1941 1927-1931
6th Infantry Brigade
US Army Order of Battle 1919-1941 1940-1941
19th Coast Artillery Regiment
   7 December 1941
Harbor Defenses Of San Diego
19th Coast Artillery Regiment (Harbor Defense) (Type A)
625th Coast Artillery Regiment (Harbor Defense)
Corps Area Support Unit 1952 (Station Complement)
 
Available From Amazon
 
 
 
Other Online Histories
 
Fort Wiki
The Guns of San Diego
University of San Diego Thesis
Historic American Building Survey
Argonaut Hall
Barracks
Post Exchange
Mine Casemate
 
 
 
 
Search our Site!
Google
Search the Web Search California Military History Online
 
Questions and comments concerning this site should be directed to the Webmaster
 
Updated 8 February 2016