Battery Leary-Merriam

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Battery Leary-Merriam (1916-1944) - Battery Leary-Merriam was a reinforced concrete Taft Period 14" gun battery located on Fort MacArthur, Los Angeles County, California. The Battery was constructed as a single two gun battery but each gun emplacement was designated as a separate battery. Gun emplacement #1 was named for Brig. Gen. Peter Leary Jr. and gun emplacement #2 was named for Brig. Gen. Henry Clay Merriam. Battery construction started 20 Jan 1916, was completed 10 Oct 1919 and transferred to the Coast Artillery for use 10 Oct 1919 at a total cost of $251,363. Battery was converted to an HDCP/HECP in 1944.

Battery Leary Gun Loading, image courtesy Fort MacArthur Museum
Battery Leary Gun, image courtesy Fort MacArthur Museum
Battery Merriam Panorama

World War I (1917-1918)

Part of the Harbor Defense of Los Angeles.

Battery Leary-Merriam was a reinforced concrete Taft Period gun battery with two, M1910 MI, 14" guns mounted on M1907 MI disappearing carriages. Constructed 1916-1919 and accepted in 1919. Gun # 2 was mounted 24 Apr 1917 and gun # 1 was mounted 14 May 1917.

This was a single story battery with the guns located on the same level as the magazines. Shells were moved from the magazine to the gun loading platform by shell trucks. The magazines are located in a central traverse that is directly connected by galleries to the gun pits. The gun pits were not casemated but the magazines were in a reinforced concrete structure covered with earth and sand. No shell or powder hoists were needed or provided. Electrical power was furnished by the emplacement power plant and commercial power.

Practice firings caused significant damage in the surrounding communities as those communities grew over the years. This battery was very close to civilian communities, and that limited the number of practice rounds, especially in Battery Merriam which was the closest gun to the civilian areas. Battery Merriam's gun was fired only 11 times and Battery Leary's gun was fired only 79 times according to the gun cards.

Battery Leary-Merriam Armament (edit list)
Empl
No
Caliber
Type
Barrel
Length
Model Serial
No
Manufacturer Carriage Service
Dates
Notes
1 14" Rifle 48' 3" M1910MI 14 Watervliet Disappearing, M1907MI,
#18, Watertown
1917-1944 Gun mounted
14 May 1917
2 14" Rifle 48' 3" M1910MI 16 Watervliet Disappearing, M1907MI,
#19, Watertown
1917-1944 Gun mounted
24 Apr 1917
Source: Coast Defense Study Group, RCW Form 1 11 May 1926, Berhow, Mark A. ed, American Seacoast Defenses: A Reference Guide, 2nd Edition, CDSG Press, McLean, VA, 2004, ISBN 0-9748167-0-1, pages 158-159
Fort MacArthur Costal Gun Batteries - Battery Barlow-Saxton Left, Battery Leary-Merriam Center, Battery Osgood-Farley Right
Battery Leary-Merriam Plan 1919


World War II (1941-1945)

Battery Leary-Merriam was considered obsolete at the beginning of World War II because of its disappearing carriages and lack of protective casemates. It was kept in operation pending the completion of the modernization program's 16" batteries. Both 14" gun tubes were dismounted early in 1944 and then transferred to the Black Hills Ordnance Depot on 10 Jun 1944. The battery was then converted into a Harbor Defense Command Post (HDCP) and Harbor Entrance Command Post (HECP) and accepted for service on 7 Nov 1944.

Fort MacArthur HDCP-HECP Plan 1945


Cold War (1947-1991)

The main battery complex became the Integrated Fire Control (IFC) site for the NIKE Air-Defense launch site at Whites Point (LA-43), (1956-1975). The High Power Acquisition Radar (HIPAR) building on top of the old battery magazine is now used by the Marine Exchange. The Nike Maintenance and Service Building was built right into gun emplacement #1. The Nike generator and operations control buildings in front of emplacement #1 are being utilized by the Angels Gate Cultural Center. Some of the radar and communications towers and/or pads are still present.

Current Status

Marine Exchange Traffic Center

No guns or carriages in place. The main battery complex was modified during the NIKE years and is currently the home of the Southern California Marine Exchange. Battery Merriam is exposed and covered with graffiti but Battery Leary is partially covered with other structures. The Marine Exchange Vessel Traffic Center sits atop the main battery complex.


Location: On the Upper Reservation of Fort MacArthur, Los Angeles County, California.

Maps & Images

Lat: 33.712359 Long: -118.293791

See Also:

Sources:

  • U.S.Army, Supplement to the Harbor Defense Project Harbor Defenses of Los Angeles, (LA-AN-WDC-44), 31 Aug 1944, CDSG

Links:

Visited: 31 Jan 2009

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