Battery Chester

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Battery Chester (1902-1943) - Battery Chester was a reinforced concrete, Endicott Period 12 inch coastal gun battery on Fort Miley, San Francisco County, California. The battery was named in G.O. 194, 27 Dec 1904, after Maj. James Chester, 3rd U.S. Artillery, a U.S. Civil War veteran, who died 27 May 1903. Battery construction started for emplacements #1 and #2 in 1899, was completed in 1903 and transferred to the Coast Artillery for use 26 Sep 1902 at a cost of $ 165,919.39. Emplacement #3 was started in 1902 and was completed in 1903. All three emplacements were deactivated in 1943.

Battery Chester Entrance to Emplacements #1 & #2
Battery Chester Emplacement #3

Endicott Period (1890-1910)

Part of the Harbor Defense of San Francisco.

Originally built as an Endicott Period concrete coastal gun battery with two 12" M1895 guns mounted on M1897 Disappearing carriages and one M1888MII gun mounted on an M1892 Barbette carriage. The configuration of the battery changed over the years and two of the guns were swapped out in 1918 for different models. It is not clear that the documentation correctly reflects what actually happened. It appears that the RCW Form 1, 1 Mar 1920, incorrectly identifies the #1 and #2 guns as model M1895 and that the error was corrected in the RCW Form #1 dated 1 Sep 1923, correcting the model numbers to M1888MI and M1888MI1/2. The CDSG Gun Card Collection from NARA supports this conclusion.

Battery Chester Emplacement #2 Magazine Loading Ramp

Emplacements #1 and #2 are part of the same complex, being joined together by part of the magazine complex for emplacement #2. Emplacement #3 sits off by itself, not connected to emplacements #1 and #2. Each of the three emplacement has its own shell and powder rooms along with a Hodges front delivery shell hoist to move the 1000 lb shells from the magazine level to the gun loading platform level. These hoists were eventually replaced by Taylor-Raymond back delivery shell hoists in 1916 and the hoists were then modified for the newer long point shells. There were no powder hoists. A small covered gallery sits at the top of each shell hoist. Loading ramps lead into the shell and powder rooms for each of the three emplacements.

Battery Chester Plotting Room

A 20' by 14' plotting room, built in 1914, is at the back of the battery between emplacements #1 and #2. The BC station is located above and forward of the plotting room and there are three observation stations, one on each flank of the three emplacements.

Power is furnished to all three emplacements by a power plant located in two rooms on the left interior side of emplacement #2. The plant houses three gasoline powered 25 KW motor generator sets. The radiators for the power plant are housed in an external 8' by 26' building to the left of emplacement #2. A latrine is also housed in a separate building to the right of emplacement #1. The carriages for emplacements #1 and #2 had retraction motors installed but there were no traversing, elevating or depressing motors.

Battery Chester Armament (edit list)
Model Serial
Manufacturer Carriage Service
1 12" Rifle 442.56" M1895 24 Watervliet Disappearing, M1897,
#26, Watertown
1902-1918 See note 1
1 12" Rifle 440" M1888MI 17 Watervliet Disappearing, M1897,
#26, Watertown
1918-1943 See note 2 & 4
2 12" Rifle 442.56" M1895 22 Watervliet Disappearing, M1897,
#27, Watertown
1902-1918 See note 1
2 12" Rifle 440" M1888MI1/2 40 Watervliet Disappearing, M1897,
#27, Watertown
1918-1943 See note 3 & 4
3 12" Rifle 440" M1888MII 3 Bethlehem Barbette, M1892,
#28, Watertown
1902-1943 See note 4
Source: RCW Form 1, 1 Mar 1920, 1 Sep 1923, RCB, 31 Dec 1903, 31Dec 1909,CDSG, Berhow, Mark A. ed, American Seacoast Defenses: A Reference Guide, 2nd Edition, CDSG Press, McLean, VA, 2004, ISBN 0-9748167-0-1, pages 137-137, 148-149, 215
Note 1: Guns transferred to Watervliet 5 Jun 1918 and 13 Jun 1918 CDSG Gun Card Collection from NARA
Note 2: Gun transferred from Fort Baker (1), Battery Spencer 20 Jun 1918 CDSG Gun Card Collection from NARA
Note 3: Gun transferred from Fort Winfield Scott, Battery Lancaster, 26 May 1918. CDSG Gun Card Collection from NARA
Note 4: Guns & carriages ordered salvaged 24 Jul 1943. CDSG Gun Card Collection from NARA
Battery Chester Plan

World War I (1917-1918)

The U.S. entry into World War I resulted in a widespread removal of large caliber coastal defense gun tubes for service in Europe. Many of the gun and mortar tubes removed were sent to arsenals for modification and mounting on mobile carriages, both wheeled and railroad. Most of the removed gun tubes never made it to Europe and were either remounted or remained at the arsenals until needed elsewhere. The two M1895 gun tubes in Battery Chester were removed in Jun 1918 and sent back to the Watervliet Arsenal, but were never shipped overseas. These two gun tubes, for emplacements #1 and #2, were replaced by M1888MI tubes obtained in May 1918 from Battery Spencer at Fort Baker (1) and from Battery Lancaster at Fort Winfield Scott. The carriages did not change.

World War II (1941-1945)

The guns at Battery Chester were clearly obsolete by 1943 and the guns and carriages were ordered salvaged on 24 Jul 1943.

Current Status

Part of the Golden Gate Recreation Area (GGNRA) administered by the National Park Service. No period guns or mounts in place.

Location: Fort Miley, San Francisco County, California

Maps & Images

Lat: 37.7824428 Long: -122.5088614



Visited: 23 Aug 2009

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