Battery Information

Fort Worden: Rebirth Through Decay Battery Information
Battery Information of Fort Worden as seen in Fort Worden: Rebirth Through Decay

Battery Ash

Constructed between 1898 and 1900, Battery Ash sits atop Artillery Hill overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Ash was part of the main gun line along with Battery Quarles and Randol. The total cost of the three batteries was $232,554.97. At the time of operation, Battery Ash was outfitted with two 12″ guns in barbette carriages which had a range of 10 miles when firing a 1,070 pound armor-piercing shell. These were aimed towards the West, the expected entry point of the enemy. In August of 1942 orders came through to remove the guns and carriages, and this was completed by 1943.

Battery Benson

Battery Benson was a dual-threat battery designed to protect both Admiralty Inlet and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. After three years of construction Benson was completed in 1907 for a total cost of $142,500. Benson was fitted with two 10″ M1900 guns on M1901 disappearing carriages which could fire a six hundred pound shell up to nine miles. During World War II in 1943 the guns were dismounted and scrapped, the counterweights shipped to Fort Stevens to be utilized as mine anchors.  However, during the late 1950’s long-range search radar for the Seattle Nike Missile Defense was installed on a large concrete block on top of the battery. It ceased operation in September 1960.

Battery Brannan

Battery Brannan includes two mortar pits carved into the side of Artillery Hill. Originally Battery Brannan and Battery Powell were built as a single large mortar battery, but were split in 1908: mortar pits A and B became Brannan while C and D became Powell. Construction began in 1899 and was completed in 1901 at a cost of $81,051.06. Each Brannan pit was fitted with four 12” M1890MI mortars on M1896MI carriages and were capable of firing a seven hundred pound shell nine miles.

Brannan included a plotting room which was located in a separate enclosure across the access road. At the top of the battery was an observation post. Mortar projectiles and powder bags were stored in a U-shaped corridor, the outside of which formed the back wall of the pit. An underground complex between Batteries Powell and Brannan was used to contain the fuse materials for arming the mortars.

A requirement for mortars in the WWI European theater and the difficulty of loading and firing four large mortars simultaneously led to the removal of two mortars from each pit. These were shipped to Seattle, and four arrived in Europe where they were mounted for railroad artillery use.

Battery Kinzie

Perched upon the beach at the tip of Point Wilson, Battery Kinzie, along with Benson atop Artillery Hill, were the last two batteries constructed and accepted for service at Fort Worden. They became active in January 1912. Kinzie was outfitted with M1901 disappearing carriages that held two 12″ M1895MI guns capable of projecting a thousand pound shell ten miles. Construction costs were totaled at $207,832.50.

Kinzie is the largest and most technologically advanced battery at Fort Worden, possessing fifteen rooms and a battery control station. It has two levels, the 12″ M1895MI guns mounted on the upper level with utility rooms and magazine storage below; air spaces were left between the two levels. The reasons for air spaces were two-fold: it allowed for ventilation as well as isolating soldiers from the massive shock of the 12″ guns firing. Due to the thousand pound shells and three hundred pounds of powder required for each shot, electric driven shell and powder hoists were used to move the shells and powder from down below to the upper level. Kinzie also possessed disappearing gun carriages, complicated and intricate contraptions that, after firing, allowed the gun to rotate backwards and down into a pit protected by the battery. This made reloading more efficient, as the gun was lowered to a level just above the loading platform, but more importantly hid the gun from view of the enemy. The mechanism was usually powered by the force of recoil of the gun.

In 1944, the two 12” guns were dismounted.

Battery Kinzie was the location for a memorable scene from “An Officer and a Gentleman”, where Richard Gere screams “I got nowhere else to go!”

Battery Powell

Originally Battery Powell and Battery Brannan were built as a single large mortar battery, but were split in 1908: mortar pits A and B became Brannan while C and D became Powell. Construction began in 1899 and was completed in 1901 at a cost of 81,051.06. Each Powell pit was fitted with four 12” M1890MI mortars on M1896MI carriages and were capable of firing a seven hundred pound shell nine miles; in 1913 it was demonstrated that it was accurate enough to hit a moving target in Discovery Bay, seven miles away.

Powell included a plotting room which was located in a separate enclosure across the access road. At the top of the Battery was an observation post. Mortar projectiles and powder bags were stored in a U-shaped corridor, the outside of which formed the back wall of the pit. An underground complex between Batteries Powell and Brannan was used to contain the fuse materials for arming the mortars. A requirement for mortars in the WWI European theater and the difficulty of loading and firing four large mortars simultaneously led to the removal of two mortars from each pit. These were shipped to Seattle, and it is unclear whether they ever arrived in Europe.

Battery Putnam

Costing a mere $12,000 for construction, Putnam is one of the four batteries not situated on Artillery Hill. Its purpose was to protect Admiralty Inlet from small, quick boats and to provide anti-aircraft protection, as well as to protect the proposed underwater mine field. It was fitted with two 3” M1903 rapid fire guns on pedestal mounts which could fire a 15 pound shell six miles. Construction was finished in March 1906. Putman was active until the end of WWII, and in 1946 the gun-tubes were used as spares at Battery Walker and the gun carriages sold for scrap.

Battery Quarles

Situated atop Artillery Hill, Battery Quarles was one of the first batteries built, with construction beginning before the turn of the century in 1898 and completed two short years later in 1900. It’s flanked on either side by Battery Randol and Ash. These three made up the original main gun line, a seven-gun unnamed battery that cost $232,554.97, not including guns and carriages. They were all named and “separated” in 1904, then modified in 1909 at an additional cost of $50,215. After the modifications Quarles was left with three 10” M1888 rifles. Then, in 1921, Quarles was reduced to two 10” rifles.

One interesting characteristic of the original main gun line is the massive rings mounted on the walls skirting the gun platforms (refer to page 61). These were called maneuvering rings and were used to attach a large pulley systems that, with the help of a few mules, moved the heavy guns into place.

In 1941 Battery Quarles was deactivated. All three guns and carriages were removed and shipped to Canada just prior to the US’s involvement in WWII. Two of the guns wound up at Fort McNutt in Nova Scotia, where they remain today.

Battery Randol

Battery Randol is the South easternmost member of the original main gun line. Construction on Randol began in 1898 and completed in 1902 and was fitted with two 10” guns on barbette mounts, one for each emplacement.

On May 25, 1918, the order came to remove Randol’s guns for shipment overseas, with both guns tallying a combined total of only 143 rounds fired. The following month the guns were shipped back to the manufacturer for modification, however WWI ended before the guns reached Europe.

Battery Stoddard

On a bluff overlooking Admiralty Inlet, Battery Stoddard along with its much smaller counterpart Battery Putnam reside at the base of Artillery Hill. Construction on Stoddard began in July 1903 and was completed in 1906 at a cost of $91,000. It was fitted with four 6” M1903 rifles mounted on disappearing carriages that could fire a 108-pound shell seven miles.

Of all 12 batteries at Fort Worden, Battery Stoddard was functional for the shortest period of time. Immediately after the U.S.’s entrance in WWI Stoddard’s guns were removed and shipped to France, arriving in 1918. They were returned in 1919 and later installed in WWII batteries located in Delaware, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Stoddard was not rearmed following WWI.

Battery Tolles

Half way up Artillery Hill, Tolles overlooks the Strait of Juan de Fuca and is a large four emplacement battery. It was originally fitted with four 6-inch guns on disappearing carriages that were able to propel 105-pound shells seven miles. Construction on Tolles began in 1903 and became active May 21, 1907. Total construction cost came to $104,500.

During WWI (Dec 31, 1917) the guns at emplacements 3 and 4 were removed, and in November of 1936 these emplacements were modified to accommodate two 6” M1900 guns with M1900 barbette carriages, guns which originally were mounted at Fort Stevens in Oregon. The gun platform was raised and concrete pads reinforced, access stairs were added as well as the addition of overhead cover for the battery commander, and the storeroom was converted to a plotting room. The two newly modified gun emplacements became known as Battery Tolles-B, while the original emplacements were designated Battery Tolles-A. At the onset of WWII, Tolles-B was modified to include an SCR 296 Radar southwest of the battery.

In August 1943 the two original 6” disappearing guns were removed, and later in 1945 Tolles-B’s two 6” guns were salvaged.

Battery Vicars

Battery Vicars is the North easternmost battery. It is situated an equal distance from both the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Admiralty Inlet, and was designed to protect both regions. Construction proceeded quickly, commencing in 1900 and completed 1901, costing a mere $11,000. Vicars was fitted with two 5” M1897 rapid fire guns on M1896 balanced pillar mounts, but in 1903 this technology became outdated with the development of 3” rapid fire guns on pedestal mounts along with 6” guns on disappearing carriages found at batteries Tolles, Stoddard, Putnam and Walker. On the same plane as Battery Walker, Vicars is one of the smallest batteries, consisting of two gun emplacements and five rooms below the gun mounts. Each emplacement has a magazine and store room as well.

Both guns were removed December 1917 for use in WWI, and made it to across the Atlantic to France in 1918. Battery Vicars was not rearmed following WWI.

Along with Battery Kinzie, Vicars was featured in the 1982 film “An Officer and a Gentleman”.

In 2007 one of the 5” guns from Vicars’ No. 1 pit was located by the Puget Sound Coast Artillery Museum; it serves as a roadside veterans memorial in Maryland. Efforts have been taken to return the gun to its home.

Battery Walker

Perched on a cliff overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Battery Walker is midway up Artillery Hill. Construction on Walker began in June of 1903 and was completed 1906 at a cost of $12,000. It contained two gun mounts, each which were fitted with 3” rapid fire M1903 guns on M1903 pedestal mounts.

Battery Walker remained armed throughout WWI, however its guns were declared obsolete in October 1945 and were processed for salvage.


References

Gregory, V.J. Keepers at the Gate. Port Townsend: Port Townsend, 1976. Print.

The Puget Sound Coast Artillery Museum at Fort Worden State Park. Fort Worden Guide II. Port Townsend: SOS Printing, 2010. Print.

Information verified with scans of original Quartermaster records as well as original Report of Completed Works. Thanks to the Coastal Defense Study Group (CDSG) for compiling these documents from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) archives.

John Stanton and FortWiki.com deserve recognition. His information is invaluable and was very helpful in this project. 

Peter St. George and SaintImages © 2011

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