Brochure of Battery Russell at Fort Stevens State Park (SP) in Oregon. Published by Oregon State Parks and Recreation.
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TO WASHINGTON Trestle Bay South Jetty Clatsop Spit Columbia Columbia Wildlife Viewing Bunker River Observation Platform HAMMOND ASTORIA 30 202 WARRENTON BUS Youngs River OCEAN Wildlife Viewing Deck Wreck of the “Peter Iredale” Battery Russell PA C I F I C OCEAN Coffenbury Lake oad Lewis and Clark River WARRENTON Ridge R 101 Swash Lake Fort Stevens may be a peaceful park today, but it was once an active military base and the target of a surprise World War II naval attack. Day-Use Area 101 Lewis and Clark National Historical Park Fort Stevens State Park Historic Area Military Museum Batteries HAMMOND Fort Stevens State Park PA C I F I C River 101 To Seaside Columbia Wildlife Viewing Bunker Observation Platform River Historic Area Military Museum Batteries HAMMOND Battery Russell Swash Lake Wildlife Viewing Deck Day-Use Area Wreck of the “Peter Iredale” WARRENTON OCEAN Coffenbury Lake Ridge R PA C I F I C oad 101 Oregon Parks and Recreation Department 725 Summer St NE, Suite C, Salem OR 97301 1-800-551-6949 Check out other Oregon State Parks by visiting www.oregonstateparks.org Printed on recycled paper. Information subject to change without notice. This publication is available in alternative formats on request. Write to OPRD: 725 Summer St. NE, Salem, OR 97301; or call 1-800-551-6949 (hearing impaired: dial 7-1-1). Photo of the 2nd Coast Artillery unit from Coos Bay that became part of the 249th Coast Artillery Corps of the Oregon National Guard. 63400-9827 (10/17) ©The Oregonian. All righ ts reserved. Reprinted wit “A Triangle of Fire” Battery Russell was a later addition to a large military installation built in the 19th century to defend the mouth of the Columbia River. Fort Stevens, which dates back to the Civil War, protected the Oregon side of the river, while Fort Columbia and Fort Canby stood guard on the Washington side. Together, these three forts comprised the Harbor Defenses of the Columbia. Battery Russell was constructed between 1903 and 1904 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the U.S. Army Coast Artillery Corps. It was one of nine concrete gun batteries (emplacements for cannon or heavy artillery) built at Fort Stevens to conceal and protect Brigadier General mounted guns from enemy ships. David A. Russell Battery Russell was named for Brigadier General David A. Russell, who served with the U.S. 4th Infantry Regiment in the Oregon Territory and commanded Fort Yamhill before he was killed in action during the Civil War. Battery Russell was built separate from the other gun batteries at Fort Stevens clustered along the banks of the Columbia River. It faced the ocean to the south, expanding the network of artillery and the “triangle of fire.” It was armed with two 10-inch “disappearing guns” whose barrels could retract from view into the gun pits h permission. to provide cover for soldiers while they reloaded. Each gun was manned by a team of 35 men. A well-trained gun crew could fire a 600-pound shell once every minute with an effective range of eight miles. Fire Control Hill and Squirrelsville Firing the guns at Battery Russell required gathering data from the stations located at either end of each base line. The two stations reported the target’s angle from their position to the plotting room, enabling the soldiers to use triangulation to aim. A number of base lines for guns on both sides of the Columbia River ended at Fire Control Hill, directly above Battery Russell. Throughout the 1930s, Battery Russell was the practice battery for a coast artillery regiment with the Oregon National Guard. In September 1940, the unit was federalized; after receiving new training at nearby Camp Clatsop (now Camp Rilea), the regiment was moved back to Fort Stevens in February 1941. But it was only after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th that Battery Russell was manned on a regular basis. Because it was some two miles from the main fort, primitive housing was hastily constructed for the gun crews in the wooded area behind the dune. This area was known as “Squirrelsville” to the soldiers who were rotated in and out every few days. Soldiers reloading a 10″ disappearing rifle from behind the parapet, or wall, of the battery. Overlapping arcs representing the effective range of the guns on both sides of the Columbia River. Attack! At about 11:30 p.m. on the night of June 21, 1942, an imperial Japanese Navy submarine bypassed the entrance of the Columbia River. It was the I-25, a member of the I-class of long-range submarines dispatched to go after military targets and naval vessels along the western coast of the U.S. The sub surfaced just south of Fort Stevens about 10 miles offshore and began firing shells from its 5.5-inch deck gun in the direction of the fort. Soldiers scrambled out of bed and raced to their posts. They located the submarine by its gun flashes, but were told to hold their fire. It’s unclear why the order was given—perhaps those on Fire Control Hill thought the sub was beyond the reach of the guns, or the harbor defense commander may have wanted to avoid revealing This June 23, 1942 front page of The Oregonian and its use of derogatory language documents the fear and hostility of the wartime period. the precise location of the fort and the extent of its arsenal. It’s also possible that a conflict between the newly federalized artillery regiment and the officer in charge may have played a factor. Fortunately, most of the I-25’s shells landed harmlessly in isolated swamp and beach areas, although several did touch down near Battery Russell. A regional newspaper at the time said that the sub “peppered the Fort Stevens area… for approximately sixteen minutes” before it ceased firing, submerged, and retreated beneath the waves. A photograph of the I-15, a submarine from the same class as the I-25. BaRussell, ttery Russ Battery 10-Inch Disappearing 1904-1944 ell, 10-In ch DisappeaRifle, ring Ri fle, 1904-1944 Fort Stevens, Fort StevOregon ens, Oregon Battery Russell | 10-Inch Disappearing Rifle, 1904–1944 | Fort Stevens, Oregon Ground Level Gallery Grou nd Le vel GaOutline llery Outline Ground Level Gallery Outline 1 B B 3 A A 2 1 B 1 4 3 3 Gun Pit Gun Pit Gun Pit 2 2 #2 9 4 4 9 9 C #2 #2 E H C A 6 6 CH 6 1 B B E H E D 5 D 2 1 2 D 2 G 1 B 5 Gun Pit Gun Pit Gun Pit 4 5 7 G 7 F G 9 4 9 9 7 #1 #1 #1 F 8 FH C 8 A C H 8 A C H A 1. Powder magazine: Gunpowder was kept in silk bags sealed in metal cans. Each bag weighed more than 180 lbs. Two bags were used per firing. 1. Pow der Magazor inehigh : Pow der was kep 2. 1.Shell room: The projectiles, explosive-filled shells, were here. They weighed more than powder 600 lbs. each. t in silkkept bag s sea in me Powder Powder was kept in silk bags sealed inled metal cans.The bags weighed over 180 lbs. each. 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Consultant:ant GH Aftermath The attack by the I-25 may have been in retaliation for “the Doolittle Raid,” a surprise attack on the Japanese home islands by American B-25 bombers two months earlier. All told, approximately seventeen shells were fired at Fort Stevens. A monument now marks the site where one of the shells landed along the road from DeLaura Beach to the fort, creating a five-foot crater. Although there were no casualties, and the shelling caused minimal damage to property, it alarmed local residents about the possibility of further attacks or even an invasion. Barbed wire was strung along the beach, including through the wreck of the Peter Iredale, and civilian guards were assigned to patrol the coast. became the first U.S. mainland military base to be fired upon by a foreign power since the War of 1812—at the time of the attack, a period of 130 years. It still holds that distinction. The I-25 went on to sink two U.S. freighters and launch aerial bombings of forested land in southern Oregon near Brookings. It was destroyed in 1943 in the South Pacific by an American warship. With the attack, Fort Stevens saw its only wartime action. It also took on heightened historical significance: it A crater resulting from the shelling. Courtesy National Archives. Battery Russell Today After 40 years of protecting the harbor, Battery Russell fired its last shells on December 29, 1944 in a closing ceremony as it was replaced by the more modern Battery 245 to the northeast. Shortly after World War II, all the guns at Fort Stevens were removed, and the property was turned over to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Battery Russell became part of Oregon State Parks in 1975. Today, Battery Russell is visited by more than 170,000 people each year. It serves as both an artifact of early 20th-century U.S. military history and a reminder of past conflict. It is home to the Pacific Rim Peace Memorial, which is dedicated to the American and Japanese soldiers who were involved in the shelling of Fort Stevens and which calls for an everlasting peace between their two countries. The memorial was dedicated on June 21, 1992, the 50th anniversary of the attack. More than 150 veterans of the Harbor Defenses of the Columbia attended. In 2012, a ceremony was held to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the event. The guns at Battery Russell fired 10″-diameter shells that weighed approximately 620 pounds.