Battery Swift

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Battery Swift (1898-1917) - Battery Swift was a reinforced concrete, Endicott Period 8 inch coastal gun battery on Fort Caswell, Brunswick County, North Carolina. The battery was named in G.O. 134, 1899, after Capt. Alexander J. Swift, U.S. Corps of Engineers, Engineer in Charge of Fort Caswell construction, who died 24 Apr 1847 in New Orleans. Battery construction started in 1896, was completed in 1898 and transferred to the Coast Artillery for use 6 Dec 1898 at a cost of $ 121,170.86. Gun tubes removed in 1917.

Battery Swift Gun Emplacement #1 M1896 Carriage Mounts
Battery Swift Gun Emplacement #2 M1894 Carriage Mounts
Battery Swift View

Endicott Period (1890-1910)

Part of the Harbor Defense of Cape Fear River.

Originally built as an Endicott Period concrete coastal gun battery with four 8" M1888MI guns mounted on M1896 disappearing carriages. battery Swift was built in three stages. The first stage was a three gun battery for the M1888 guns with M1894 disappearing carriages. The second stage was a single 8" M1888 gun on a newer M1896 disappearing carriage. The third stage sandwiched a single 5" balance pillar emplacement between the original 3 gun battery and the second addition. This last addition became Battery McDonough (1) in 1903 and in 1905 it was moved as an additional emplacement for Battery Shipp.

The remaining configuration was a four-gun 8", two-story battery with the guns on the upper level and the magazines and service rooms on the lower level. Four shell hoists are provided to move the heavy 8" shells from the lower level to the gun loading level. In 1909 the shell hoists were upgraded to the electric motor driven Taylor-Raymond shell hoists, one front delivery in emplacement #1 and three back delivery in emplacements #2-#4. The new shell hoists were accepted 17 Apr 1909. No powder hoists were provided.

The original electrical power was provided by storage batteries just for lighting. The addition of the shell hoists in several batteries and additional power requirements from searchlights and other mechanisms made it necessary to install several motor generator sets and Battery Swift had two 25KW generator sets installed.

Battery Swift Armament (edit list)
Model Serial
Manufacturer Carriage Service
1 8" Rifle 278.5" M1888MI 34 Watervliet Disappearing, M1896,
#12, Pond
1898-1917 See note 1
2 8" Rifle 278.5" M1888MI 25 Watervliet Disappearing, M1894,
#8, Watertown
1898-1917 See note 1
3 8" Rifle 278.5" M1888MI 27 Watervliet Disappearing, M1894,
#7, Watertown
1898-1917 See note 1
4 8" Rifle 278.5" M1888MI 28 Watervliet Disappearing, M1894,
#6, Watertown
1898-1917 See note 1
1 5" Rifle 225" M1897 16 Bethlehem Balance Pillar, M1896,
#1, Watertown
1903-1905 See note 2
Source: RCW Form 1, 1 Nov 1919, RCB, 10 Oct 1903, CDSG, Berhow, Mark A. ed, American Seacoast Defenses: A Reference Guide, 2nd Edition, CDSG Press, McLean, VA, 2004, ISBN 0-9748167-0-1, pages 108-111, 210
Note 1: Guns transferred to Watervliet 21 Dec 1917. Carriages were ordered scrapped in may 1918. CDSG Gun Card Collection from NARA
Note 2: Renamed Battery McDonough (1) 1903, Gun & carriage removed to Battery Shipp 1905
Battery Swift 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 guns of Battery Swift were caught up in the World War I redistribution and on 24 Aug 1917 they were reported as ordered dismounted for use abroad. The tubes were transferred to Watervliet for modification on 21 Dec 1917 and subsequently to the Philadelphia Port of Entry but the war ended before the gun tubes could be shipped to France. The gun tubes were not returned to Battery Swift and the Battery was not rearmed.

Current Status

On the property of the North Carolina Baptist Assembly. No period guns or mounts in place.

Location: Fort Caswell, Brunswick County, North Carolina

Maps & Images

Lat: 33.891009 Long: -78.021415

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: Emp #1= 33.61', Emp #2= 33.48', Emp #3= 33.53', Emp #4= 33.63'


  • Herring, Ethel and Williams, Carolee, Fort Caswell in War and Peace, 2nd Ed., NC Baptist Assembly, Oak Island, NC, 1983-1999, ISBN - 0-9671897-1-3


Visited: 27 Jan 2010

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