Battery Van Swearingen

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Battery Van Swearingen (1898-1917) - Battery Van Swearingen was a reinforced concrete, Endicott Period 4.72 inch coastal gun battery on Fort Pickens, Escambia County, Florida. The battery was named in G.O. 78, 15 May 1903 after Captain Joseph Van Swearingen, 6th U.S. Infantry, killed 25 Dec 1837 in the Seminole Indian Wars in the Battle of Okeechobee. Battery construction started in June 1898, was completed in October 1898 and transferred to the Coast Artillery for use 29 Jun 1898 at a cost of $ 7,497.94. Deactivated in 1917.

Battery Van Swearingen Emplacement #2
Battery Van Swearingen CRF Station in Emplacement #1 for Battery Payne
Battery Van Swearingen

Endicott Period (1890-1910)

Part of the Harbor Defense of Pensacola.

Originally built as an Endicott Period concrete coastal gun battery with two 4.72" Armstrong guns mounted on Armstrong carriages. This is a two story battery with the guns on pedestal mounts on the second level and two magazines, one for each emplacement, below on the first level. No hoists were required and electricity was furnished from a central plant.

Battery Van Swearingen Armament (edit list)
Model Serial
Manufacturer Carriage Service
1 4.72" Rifle 218.4" Armstrong 9718 Armstrong Barbette Pedestal, #10836, Armstrong 1898-1917 See note 1
2 4.72" Rifle 218.4" Armstrong 9719 Armstrong Barbette Pedestal, #10841, Armstrong 1898-1917 See note 1
Source: RCW Form 1, 22 Jan 1929, RCB, 31 Dec 1904, Coast Defense Study Group, Berhow, Mark A. ed, American Seacoast Defenses: A Reference Guide, 2nd Edition, CDSG Press, McLean, VA, 2004, ISBN 0-9748167-0-1, pages 86-87, 212
Note 1:
Battery Van Swearingen 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.

Both of the 4.72" guns from Battery Van Swearingen were transferred for service overseas to the Army Transport Service (ATS) on 24 Oct 1917. ATS transferred the guns and carriages back to Battery Van Swearingen 24 May 1919 after World War I ended. The guns and carriages were subsequently donated to organizations. Gun # 9718 and associate carriage were donated to Danialsville, Georgia and gun # 9719 was donated to Orlando, Florida.

In 1922, a C.R.F. station for Battery Payne was built into gun emplacement #1 of Battery Van Swearingen. The station was turned over for use 3 Mar 1923 at a cost of $ 1,946.49.

Current Status

Battery Van Swearingen is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore and is administered by the National Park Service. No period guns or mounts in place.

Location: Fort Pickens, Escambia County, Florida

Maps & Images

Lat: 30.327333 Long: -87.29526

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: 20.5'


  • Roberts, Robert B., Encyclopedia of Historic Forts: The Military, Pioneer, and Trading Posts of the United States, Macmillan, New York, 1988, 10th printing, ISBN 0-02-926880-X, page 197
  • De Quesada, Alejandro M., A History of Florida Forts: Florida's Lonely Outposts, SC : History Press, Charleston, 2006, ISBN 1596291044, page 192
  • Historic Structure Report and Resource Study, Pensacola Harbor Defense Project 1890-1947, Florida Unit, National Park service, March 1982


Visited: 16 Dec 2009

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