California State Military Department
The California State Military Museum
Preserving California's Military Heritage
Historic California Posts
Fort Winfield Scott: Battery Marcus Miller
by Gordon Chappell
Regional Historian, Pacific West Region
National Park Service
Beginning at the Golden Gate Bridge toll plaza and extending southward along the bluffs at the northwestern edge of the Presidio of San Francisco are five post-Endicott Board (1885) seacoast defense batteries. They include some of the earliest Endicott-type artillery defenses of San Francisco Bay. When begun, and for some time after completion, these batteries remained unnamed, and during construction were known simply by emplacement numbers assigned by the New York Board of Engineers in preparing the first Endicott-type plan for San Francisco Bay in 1890. The defenses of San Francisco were nationally second in priority, preceded only by those of New York Harbor. Sequentially the first five emplacements were to be five 10-inch guns mounted on the bluff above Fort Point. These were never built.
The Chief of Engineers alloted on March 10, 1891 the sum of $201,000 for emplacements 12 and 13 and construction began about June 2, 1891, on this first Endicott-type battery to be begun in San Francisco's defenses. Ten old 15-inch gun platforms of Battery West had to be removed. Construction proceeded to a point where pouring of further concrete was held up pending determination of which competing type of 'disappearing' carriage the government would adopt, losing this battery its chance to be the first completed. A third emplacement, number 11, separate from the first two, was soon added to the south. By the end of 1896 two of the gun tubes and all three carriages had been received, and all the guns and carriages were installed by the and of 1897 although the battery was not officially completed until 1898, and was transferred to the heavy artillery on April 14, 1898. The three 10-inch breechloading rifles were Model 1888, serial numbers 5, 15 and 18, all manufactured by Watervliet Arsenal. The 'disappearing' carriages in emplacements I and 3, all Model 1894, were manufactured by Watertown Arsenal and were serial numbers 27 and 34; the carriage, also Model 1894, in emplacement 2 was manufactured by William Cramp & Sons. This battery was treated for some years as part of Battery Cranston, and for awhile was called "Battery Cranston 2," but that terminology proved unsatisfactory and in October 1907 the three emplacements were designated a separate battery and named in honor of Brigadier General Marcus Miller, a West Point graduate and veteran of the Civil War and the Modoc and Nez Perce Indian Wars who had commanded the Presidio of San Francisco in 1898. Like Battery Lancaster, Battery Miller was regarded as obsolete and its guns were removed in 1918.
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 Battery Marcus Miller's Gun Number 3.

Layout of Battery Godfrey, 1919
Drawings Courtesy of Mark Bernow

How does a Disappearing Gun Disappear?
When a lever is pulled, a lead counterweight drops and the aimed barrel rises to the firing position. After the gun is fired, its recoil drops the gun below the parapet. This feature made the gun invisible to enemy ships and protected the crew during loading. But, while it was an effective weapon against ships, it had no protection from what its designer could not have foreseen, the airplane. Batteries designed after World War I were casemated, providing their crews a large degree of overhead protection. Below are some rare color photographs showing the battery's gun in action.

Battery Marcus Miller Today

 Gun Number 3's emplacement. October 2000

 Emplacement for Gun 3. October 2000

 Gun 2's emplacement. October 2000

 Gun number 2's emplacement. October 2000

 Battery Commander's station. October 2000


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