Sunday, September 2, 2012

Fort Winfield Scott, Presidio, San Francisco, CA

Kobbe Avenue entrance to Fort Winfield Scott (May 2001)
 
A source of confusion in any discussion of the military posts of San Francisco Bay is Fort Winfield Scott. 'Defining exactly what and where it was is no simple matter, and there were two phases to the use of the term, But for the purpose of understanding what it meant there are two central facts: Fort Winfield Scott was physically a part of what is generally understood as the Presidio of San Francisco; and since 1910 it has comprised in part a geographically separate and architecturally distinct set of buildings around a separate parade ground most of them built in 1910. 1921 and 1912. The layout of the buildings was in the form of a hook or -backwards "J" with the top of the letter to the north.
The earliest usage of the name was somewhat different, The masonry and brick fort built in the 1850s on the site of the old Spanish Castillo de San Joaquin did not., for more than twenty years after acquiring its first garrison in 1861. have a formal military name. The point of land on which it was built had been called-by the Americans "Fort Point" because of the location there of the old Spanish castillo and., subsequently., the American fort which replaced it. But that was not the official name of the fort. It was referred to in official army documents as "the fort at Fort Point.," but of course in common usage, the term "Fort Point" more often referred to the fortification itself than the point of land on which it stood,
Then on November 25, 1882, Headquarters of the Army issued General Orders No. 133 which officially named that fort at Fort Point., "Fort Winfield Scott.," after the general who was a hero of the Mexican War and who commanded the Union Army at the beginning of the Civil War.
He was a United States Army general, and unsuccessful presidential candidate of the Whig Party in 1852.
Known as "Old Fuss and Feathers" and the "Grand Old Man of the Army," he served on active duty as a general longer than any other man in American history and many historians rate him the best American commander of his time. Over the course of his forty-seven-year career, he commanded forces in the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Black Hawk War, the Second Seminole War, and, briefly, the American Civil War, conceiving the Union strategy known as the Anaconda Plan that would be used to defeat the Confederacy. He served as Commanding General of the United States Army for twenty years, longer than any other holder of the office.(2)

Brigadier General Winfield Scott also supervised removal of the Cherokees to the trans-Mississippi region in 1838. Following the orders of President Martin Van Buren, Scott assumed command of the "Army of the Cherokee Nation", headquartered at Fort Cass and Fort Butler. President Martin Van Buren, previously Secretary of State and then Vice President under President Jackson, thereafter directed Scott to forcibly move all those Cherokee still in the east to comply with the Treaty of New Echota.[3]
Winfield Scott, a Napoleanic pose.

However., only four years later, the fort was downgraded to being a mere sub-post of the-Presidio of San Francisco with its none discontinued on September 15, 1886. In common usage, of course,, the name survived for many years more, although it had no administrative meaning.
The key buildings of the new post were Mission Revival style barracks and other structures around the Parade Ground. The first built were buildings 1206, 1207 and 1208, reinforced concrete barracks with mess halls and kitchens included built in 1910 at the northwest corner of the Parade Ground. In 1911, two more of these were added., Buildings 1202 and 1203. In 1912 the largest amount of construction took place: Post Headquarters No. 1201, five more barracks with mess halls and kitchens included (1204, 1205, 1216, 1217 and 1218), a Band Barracks (1214), a Guardhouse(No. 1213) at the northeast corner of the Parade Ground, and the unlikely combination of a Quartermaster Storehouse and Bowling Alley (No. 1219), This comprised the basic Fort Winfield Scott artillery garrison complex.
Fort Winfield Scott Administration Building and Barracks
Another complex of officers' quarters was absorbed into the new artillery post. These were the stately officers' quarters on Kobbe Avenue. The earliest of these, Nos. 1302 and 1304, were built in 1902. Then in 1910 three were added (1300, 1308 and 1310) and in 1912 seven more (1314, 1320, 1322, 1324, 1326, 1328 and 1334). A Bachelor Officers' Quarters with Mess (1330) was added in 1915, A general's residence across the street was erected in 1915 (1337) and another in 1943 (1332) to the southeast. Other buildings were added in later years.
Although always physically a part of the Presidio of San Francisco, Fort Winfield Scott functioned sometimes as a separate military command partially dependent on the Presidio for logistic support., sometimes as a sub-post of the Presidio itself'. answerable to the Presidio commander. On November 27, 1922 it was designated headquarters for the "Coast Defenses of San Francisco," but on June 9, 1925, that term was changed to "Harbor Defenses of San Francisco." As headquarters for that function., Fort Winfield Scott had at different times a number of sub-posts of its awn in the Bay Area: these included Forts Baker., Barry and Cronkhite in Marin County and Forts Miley and Funston in San Francisco. Neither the Presidio of San Francisco nor Fort Mason were ever sub-posts of Fort Scott, although both had some guns and other ancillary facilities (searchlights fire control stations, torpedo or mine facilities, etc.) that did come under Fort Winfield Scott's command.
Fort Winfield Scott's independent role., established in 1912, seems to have permanently ended on June 25, 1946, when it was designated a sub-post of the Presidio of San Francisco.. Although it was reclassified under the Commanding General of the Sixth Army on September 25, 1946.
Fort Scott had one other significance in history, On June 1, 1946, the army's Coast Artillery School was transferred from Fort Monroe., Virginia,, to Fort Winfield Scott., where it operated for a brief period before coast artillery defenses became obsolete when confronted with modern air power guided missiles,, and nuclear weapons., which of course made Fort Scott's own mission obsolete. Since then., Fort Winfield Scott's barracks have served other purposes., and in 1981 house the 504th Military Police Battalion.(1)

Originally Published in 1981 for the annual meeting of the Council on Abandoned Military Posts. Reprinted without permission of the artist.





Jerry rehearsed here in
late 08/??/60 to 12/14/60
"Jerry gets 1st base "boring" assignment, goes AWOL and mutually agrees to get out of the military. He officially gets out on 12/14/60."(1)
Fort Winfield Scott, in particular, was not a good place for someone with a bad attitude. "It's absolutely the top of the elite," Jerry said. "It's the nicest place to be stationed; all the guys who are there have jockeyed and manipulated to get in there. They don't want no trouble, you know what I mean? Every single guy there is a guy who's got gold-plated service. They love it there and they don't want to hear about nothin'. So if there's anybody who's making any trouble — you know how that stuff works: whoever the superior is, is the person who gets into trouble. So there I was going AWOL on the weekends and screwing up left and right, and just doing my stuff. I wasn't committing crimes or anything like that. I was just living my life. And even doing things that I thought were important.(4)








1.)^http://www.militarymuseum.org/FtScott.html
2.)^Eisenhower, John S.D., Agent of Destiny: The Life and Times of General Winfield Scott (New York: The Free Press, 1997), 1.
3.)^Garrison, Tim Alan, The Legal Ideology of Removal: The Southern Judiciary and the Sovereignty of Native American Nations (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2002)
4.)^Jackson, Blair, Garcia, n American Life, pg. 24-27. 

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