Battery Brannan

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Battery Brannan (1902-1944) - Battery John Brannan is a concrete Endicott Period mortar battery located on Fort Worden, Jefferson County, Washington. Named in G.O. 194, 27 Dec 1904, for Brevet Major General John M. Brannan, U.S. Army, Colonel, 4th U.S. Artillery, who served in the Mexican-American War and the U.S. Civil War, and who died 16 Dec 1892. The Battery was begun in 1899, completed in 1901, and transferred to the Coast Artillery for use on 16 Jun 1902 at a total cost of $81,051.06. The mortars were dismounted in 1944 during World War II.

Battery Brannan Mortar Pit A Panorama
Battery Brannan Mortar Pit B Panorama

Endicott Period (1890-1910)

Part of the Harbor Defense of Puget Sound. Designed to protect both the Straight of Juan De Fuca and the Admiralty Inlet to Puget Sound.

This Battery and Battery Powell (1) originally was built as one large mortar battery housing sixteen 12" M1890MI mortars on M1896MI carriages in a concrete battery with four mortar pits (A-D). The original battery was split into two batteries in 1908, mortar pits A and B became Battery Brannan and pits C and D became Battery Powell (1). Each of the mortars was capable of firing a seven hundred pound shell nine miles and proved accurate enough to hit a moving practice target seven miles away in 1913.

Battery Brannan Mortar Pit B, circa 1910

The plotting room for Battery Brannan was located between mortar pits A & B in a separate building along the access road. An observation post was located at the top of the Battery on the right flank of pit A. Inside the walls of each pit is a "U" shaped corridor that was used to house the mortar projectiles and the separate powder bags used to propel them. Between Battery Powell (1) and Battery Brannan was an underground complex that had various uses over the years but was meant to contain the "war chest" of fuse materials for arming the projectiles.

At the right rear of each mortar pit was a concrete "booth" that was used to communicate with the spotters and the plotting room and to relay the azimuth and elevation firing information to the gunners via slate boards.

In May 1918 two mortars were removed from each pit leaving two mortars remaining in each pit. The mortars were removed because it proved difficult to load and fire four large mortars simultaneously and there was a requirement for mortars in the World War I European theater. Even with the removal of two mortars from each pit the rate of fire did not significantly drop.

The mortars were prepared for shipment and transported on U.S. Barge #5 towed by the U.S. Steamer Wilson to Seattle with the intent of shipping them to the war zone in Europe. This shipment arrived in Seattle on 30 May 1918 with sixteen 12" mortars, two mortars from each mortar pit of the following batteries:

The four remaining mortars were removed from Battery Brannan in 1944, during World War II.

Battery Brannan Armament (edit list)
Model Serial
Manufacturer Carriage Service
A-1 12" Mortar 141.125" M1890MI 51 Builders Mortar 1896MI, 259, Rarig 1902-1944 See Note 1
A-2 12" Mortar 141.125" M1890MI 50 Builders Mortar 1896MI, 258, Rarig 1902-1918 See Note 2
A-3 12" Mortar 141.125" M1890MI 54 Watervliet Mortar 1896MI, 256, Rarig 1902-1944 Changed to A-2
See Note 1
A-4 12" Mortar 141.125" M1890MI 32 Watervliet Mortar 1896MI, 257, Rarig 1902-1918 See Note 2
B-1 12" Mortar 141.125" M1890MI 49 Builders Mortar 1896MI, 255, Rarig 1902-1944 See Note 1
B-2 12" Mortar 141.125" M1890MI 24 Niles Mortar 1896MI, 254, Rarig 1902-1918 See Note 2
B-3 12" Mortar 141.125" M1890MI 21 Niles Mortar 1896MI, 252, Rarig 1902-1944 Changed to B-2
See Note 1
B-4 12" Mortar 141.125" M1890MI 56 Watervliet Mortar 1896MI, 253, Rarig 1902-1918 See Note 2
Source: RCW Form 1, Sep 1927, CDSG, Berhow, Mark A. ed, American Seacoast Defenses: A Reference Guide, 2nd Edition, CDSG Press, McLean, VA, 2004, ISBN 0-9748167-0-1, pages 140-145
Note 1: Guns and Carriages Ordered Salvaged 9 Mar 1944, CDSG Gun Card Collection from NARA
Note 2: Guns Sent from Fort Worden to Morgan 24 May 1918, CDSG Gun Card Collection from NARA
Battery Brannan Plan

Current Status

Part of the Fort Worden State Park Conference Center. The Battery is accessible to the public and the rooms are clean and dry but empty. Pit A is quite overgrown and the top of the battery is very overgrown making it difficult to access the observation posts. No guns or carriages are in place.

Location: Artillery Hill, Fort Worden State Park Conference Center,
Port Townsend, Jefferson County, Washington

Maps & Images

Lat: 48.138893 Long: -122.768537

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: 239'

GPS Locations:


  • Fort Worden Guide, The Puget Sound Coast Artillery Museum, 2005, page 20-21
  • U.S.Army, Supplement to the Harbor Defense Project, Harbor Defenses of Puget Sound, (CCA-AN-PS), 12 Aug 1945, CDSG



  • TM 9-456 - 12-inch Seacoast Material, 12-Inch Mortar M1890MI mounted on 12-Inch Mortar Carriage M1896MI and M1896MII 1942

Fortification ID:

  • WA0035 - Battery Brannan

Visited: 17 Jun 2009, 19 Jul 2008

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