Boutelle. Image courtesy of National Park Service
Beginning at the Golden Gate Bridge toll
plaza and extending southward along the bluffs at the northwestern
edge of the Presidio of San Francisco are five post-Endicott
Board (1885) seacoast defense batteries. They include some of
the earliest Endicott-type artillery defenses of San Francisco
Bay. When begun, and for some time after completion, these batteries
remained unnamed, and during construction were known simply by
emplacement numbers assigned by the New York Board of Engineers
in preparing the first Endicott-type plan for San Francisco Bay
in 1890. The defenses of San Francisco were nationally second
in priority, preceded only by those of New York Harbor. Sequentially
the first five emplacements were to be five 10-inch guns mounted
on the bluff above Fort Point. These were never built.
Plans were forwarded to Washington in
February 1898 for a battery of four 5-inch rapid fire guns on
balanced pillar mounts just south of yet-unnamed Battery Marcus
Miller. This was the site of two 1870s-vintage mortar batteries,
whose three brick magazines would be useful for various purposes
in the new battery. Construction of the two center emplacements
was authorized March 8, 1898, and commenced quickly thereafter.
A third emplacement was soon added, but the fourth never was.
Three guns, all Model 1897, serial numbers 3, 15 and 17, were
mounted by mid-1901, and the battery was transferred to the artillery
on October 1, 1901. The gun mounts were numbers 13, 12 and 14,
respectively, all manufactured by Bethlehem Steel. On October
9, 1902 the battery was named for Lieutenant Henry M. Boutelle,
killed in action near Aliago, Philippine Islands, in 1899. The
three guns were removed as obsolete in 1917.
Originally Published in 1981
for the annual meeting of the Council on Abandoned Military Posts.
Reprinted with permission of the author
by Chuck Wofford
The three rapid fire guns mounted here
were Model 1897, numbers 3, 15, and 17 and were manufactured
by the Bethlehem Steel Company. The cost of each gun was $6,250.00
and the weight of the gun was 11,120 lbs.
These guns were mounted on Bethlehem Steel
Company, Balanced Pillar Mounts, and were Model 1896, serial
numbers 13, 14, and 12. The maximum elevation of the guns were
15 degrees. The cost of the carriages was $8,150.00, and the
total weight/complete with counterweight weight 48,809 lbs.
This battery was originally planed for
four emplacements by Colonel Charles R. Sutter in February 1898,
but the #1 or first on the far right was never constructed. Of
the many 5-inch weapons included in the Bay Area defenses, there
was one unique model that warrants special comments a carriage
known as the balanced pillar mount..
For guns not larger than 5-inch, the projectiles
and the power are ordinarily stored and transported to the gun
in the form of complete cartridges, put up in metallic cases
similar to the cartridges used in the Infantry rifle. The projectile
are stored in rows along the wall of the shell room, The shells
for these small caliber guns, were 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 was to be
used, when the boxes are broken open.
Its storage, therefore consisted simply
piling up the boxes in the most convenient arrangement. The ammunition
supply for this battery was stored in the three magazines, which
measured 13.3' x 25'.
The total weight of the cartridge was
84 pounds, and had a range of 12,920 yards.
This battery had been ordered for some
time, but plans could not be prepared owing to lack of information
regarding the carriages. When this information finally became
available, plans were sent on and approved, An allotment of 6,000
was made on June 3 1899 for Emplacement D.
The battery was started on March 16 1898,
(Emplacements B and C with the clearing and grading of the site,
so the excavation could begin. The excavation started with in
the week, and there was a removal of over 959 cubic yards of
dirt and sand. Excavation was begun and was completed on May
11 1900 for Emplacement D, also the main road to the battery
was repaired, and the work started.
Construction of the forms for this 2 story
battery were erected in February. As the excavation was going,
the addition of the reinforcement of 9,500 lbs of steel was put
in place in the forms.
At this time the concreting was began
with over 58,565 gals of concrete used in this battery, work
on the center emplacement, Emplacement C was started March 23
1898, and by the end of April the floors , foundation for the
platforms, the retaining walls, a relocator room and a passage
to the old magazine had all been completed.
The length across the front of this battery
was 130' and it was 30' deep, and there was 45' between the guns,
beside the magazines as listed above it also had a Relocator
Room that was strange shaped, being between what was by then
known as Emplacements 1 and 2 at the back of the battery 10'
x 10' and a Crow Nest that was 2" x 2' and a new entrance
to the Old Magazine # 22.
They were unable to proceed further with
the construction until the cylinders for the mounts arrived.
As it is necessary to build the foundation cylinders to pivot
the guns into the platforms, work could not be carried beyond
making the excavation, laying the foundation and completing some
portions of the battery, including the concrete work on relocator
and entrance to old magazines this work was finished in March
of 1898 and remains status quo, the carriages not having
The cylinders for the pillars arrived
in January 1901, and the work for completing the battery immediately
began. and the concreting completed at the end of March. The
refill, the grading and seeding, the cement finishing and the
carpentry work were done in April. During May and June the battery
was allowed to dry, and in the latter part of June the rooms
were whitewashed and the electric wiring put in. The work was
completed except putting the surface drain on the exterior slopes,
installing two iron ladders, and some minor fixtures. The carriages
were mounted, guns not received as of this date.
The cylinders for the pillars arrived
in January,1901, and the work of completing the battery immediately
began. The forms were erected in February and concreting completed
at the end of March, the battery was transferred to the Artillery
commander on October 1 1901 at a cost of $27,030.22.
Emplacement A was never built.
This battery was electrified around December
of 1902, and used 2.2 kw. Prior to December of 1904 a few small
electrical plants installed in some of the batteries at Fort
Winfield Scott, after the main power was put in Battery Boutelle
got its power through Battery Godfrey.
The remainder of armament was dismantled
and salvaged in 1943 under authority contained in letter, Service
of Supply, November 19, 1942 (Reference SPX 662 (12 Nov. 42)
GB-5 SPDDO subject; Proceedings of the local Harbor Defense Board,
October 5 1942, Salvage of obsolete Armament ( Addressed to the
Chief of Ordnance) and copy of proceedings of subject board).
This is also one of the batteries built on top of the old Battery
West , there are still a couple of entrances to be seen around
Batteries Boutelle and Battery Miller. Battery Boutelle is strategically
located between the 10-inch guns of Battery Marcus Miller and
the 12-inch guns of Battery Godfrey. Thus within a few hundred
feet there is a dramatic representation to be found of three
types of Endocott fortification. It saw service from 1902 to
1917, and still in good shape