Batteries East and West
During the Civil War, advances in artillery proved that masonry forts in the style of Fort Point were unable to withstand bombardment by heavy ordinance. Consequentially, the period following the war was marked by innovative revisions in seacoast defense. In this era, brick and mortar forts were gradually replaced by earthwork batteries.
In 1872, work began on several new gun positions on the coastal bluffs behind Fort Point. By 1873, the first emplacement—called West Battery—was completed and armed with twelve 15-inch Rodman cannon. That same year, construction began on Battery East and a covered path was soon built to connect batteries East and West. During the Spanish-American War of 1898, 8-inch rifled Rodman cannon were emplaced at Battery East.
When the Endicott-period batteries were constructed at the Presidio during the 1890’s, Battery West was almost completely destroyed. At Battery East, however, the earthen works built to protect the large Rodman guns are still visible, as are the brick-lined magazines used to store ammunition. The site commands beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco Bay, and downtown.
Thompson, Erwin N. Historic Resource Study: Seacoast Fortifications, San Francisco Harbor. California: GGNRA, 1979.
Did You Know?
In 1915, a tragic fire at the Presidio claimed the lives of General Pershing’s wife and his three daughters. Pershing's son, Francis Warren, survived the blaze and chose to enlist in the army as a private during World War II. By the end of the war he had achieved the rank of major.