Insignia for the 18th CA Regiment (left) and the 249th CA Regiment (right)
Section I - Events Prior to 7 December 1941
1. Location and mission of the harbor Defenses of the Columbia:
a. Three forts forming a triangle of defense at the mouth of the Columbia River constitute the Harbor Defenses of the Columbia. Principal of these is Fort Stevens, Oregon, located on the south side of the river on Point Adams. Fort Canby and Fort Columbia, the subsidiary posts, are on the north side of the river on Cape Disappointment and Scarboro Head, respectively.
b. The mission of the Harbor Defenses of the Columbia is as given below:
(1) To deny access to and use of the Columbia River by enemy ships.
(2) To support defense against landing attack within range of harbor defense weapons.
(3) To defend harbor defense installations against land attack.
2. The construction of the harbor Defenses of the Columbia was begun in 1863 at Fort Stevens and Fort Canby. Old Fort Stevens, which was located in the site of the present 249th Coast Artillery Battalion Parade Ground, was a walled and moated pentagon redoubt guarded by a total of 34 muzzle loaders ranging from 8 to 15 inches in caliber. This installation existed until 1896, when the guns were dismounted and sold. The moat was not filled in until 1940. Old Fort Canby consisted of three batteries designated Right, Center and Left. These batteries, which were located near Cape Disappointment Light, consisted of muzzle loaders of the same size and type used in Old Fort Stevens. These guns were dismounted and removed at various times between 1885 and 1896.
3. The next phase of construction took place during the Spanish American War Period. Between 1896 and 1903, the defense plans of he War Department for the Columbia River crystallized into a approximately the material form we now see. the boundaries of the present reservations of Fort Stevens and Fort Canby were defined about as they now exist. Fort Columbia was constructed and armed. Plans were made for mining the river entrance. Disappearing carriage type guns and 12" Mortars were installed.
The armament installed during this period consisted of the following:
Guns Fort Stevens Fort Canby Fort Columbia
3" Stevens 2, Canby 0, Columbia 3
6" Stevens 4, Canby 5, Columbia 2
8" Stevens 0, Canby 0, Columbia 3
10" Stevens 8, Canby 0, Columbia 0
12" Mortars Stevens 8
4. The following condensed information concerns the naming of the three main posts in the harbor defenses:
a. Fort Stevens, Oregon: This fort was named in honor of General Isaac Ingalls Stevens, onetime Governor of the Washington Territory and Superintendent of Indian Affairs, who was killed in action 1 September 1862 at the battle of Chantilly, Virginia.
b. Fort Canby, Washington: This fort was originally known as Fort Cape Disappointment, Washington Territory, until 1875 when it was designated Fort Canby by W. D. General Order No. 5. For Canby was named in honor of Brigadier General Edward Richard Sprigg Canby, who was murdered 11 April 1873, by Modoc Indians near Van Breneis Ranch, California, while engaged in a peace conference.
c. Fort Columbia, Washington: This fort was named for the Columbia River, the inner entrance of which it protects. Fort Columbia has borne this designation since its construction, which was planned in 1898.
5. a. During the First World War all available armament in the Harbor Defenses of the Columbia was manned. The batteries operative during this period were:
b. The Oregon National Guard Coast Artillery consisting of 59 officers and 1290 men organized as 1st - 12th Companies and a Band mobilized at Fort Stevens 29 July 1917. On 5 August 1917 these units were federalized and from them and other personnel assigned individually for training were formed Columbia Coast Artillery Companies 1 - 16 inclusive, the 29th CA Band, and large elements of the 69th CA and Regimental Headquarters and the 2nd Battalion of the 65th CA, which served in France.
6. After the First World War, Fort Canby and Fort Columbia were placed on a caretaking status and Fort Stevens was garrisoned by one company, the 4th Company Columbia. On 1 July 1924 this unit was designated Battery E of the newly formed 3rd CA. In 1940 the garrison consisted of but two batteries and the Headquarters Detachment of the 3rd CA, all stationed at Fort Stevens a total of about 14 officers and 250 men.
7. a. Reorganization of the Coast Artillery, 1 February 1940, inactivated the 3rd Coast Artillery and activated Headquarters Battery, Battery A and Battery B, 18th Coast Artillery, at Fort Stevens, Oregon. On 8 November 1940, the War Department realizing the need for service troops in an expanding command, activated Services Command Unit No. 1924 (first as part of CASU 9019) to serve at Fort Stevens. On 3 January 1941, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st battalion, 18th Coast Artillery, and Battery C, 18th Coast Artillery, were activated.
b. The 249th Coast Artillery Regiment (HD) of the Oregon National Guard was mobilized under authority of Executive Order No. 8520, and ordered into the Active Military Service of the united States on 16 September 1940. Mobilization was completed at the various Oregon State Armories and on 23 September 1940, the regiment was assembled at Camp Clatsop, Oregon, to complete basic training before being sent to complement the garrison at the harbor Defenses of the Columbia.
c. The 249th Coast Artillery moved from Camp Clatsop to Fort Stevens, Oregon, 6 February 1941. All units of the regiment were first stationed at Fort Stevens; however, on 21 February 1941, Battery B, 249th Coast Artillery, went to Fort Canby and detachment of that battery took over guard duty at Fort Columbia.
Section II - Events Subsequent to 7 December 1941
8. a. At Fort Stevens, when war began, were eight 12" railway mortars. Four were taken on 3 January 1942 by Battery C, 249th Coast Artillery, to Brown’s Point, located at the north entrance of Gray’s Harbor, to assist in the defense of that water area. A chronological history of the Harbor Defenses of Gray’s Harbor is attached as an appendix hereto. The remaining four mortars were shipped to Fort Lewis, Washington, on 6 February 1942.
b. An enemy naval vessel, believed to be a Japanese submarine, shelled the Harbor Defenses of the Columbia on the night of 21 June 1942. Nine rounds of 5" shells were fired in a bombardment that lasted from 2320 to 2340. Although most of the projectiles landed in a swampy terrain to the south of Fort Stevens proper, one found fell 300 yards in front of Battery Russell and one within 50 yards of a concrete pillbox marking the southern boundary of Fort Stevens. The Harbor Defenses of the Columbia suffered no casualties and no damage in this, the only bombardment since 1812 by hostile craft of a fortification within the continental United States. The submarine remained out of range of armament then existing in the Harbor Defenses of the Columbia therefore, fire could not be returned.
9. The Modernization Program of the Harbor Defenses of the Columbia was initiated in 1940 and provided for the abandonment of obsolete armament and the replacement thereof by modern seacoast weapons. Final approval of the program included the following:
10. The gun defense provided for the installation of three 6-inch batteries, located at Fort Stevens, Fort Canby and Fort Columbia, respectively. Construction of Battery 245, Fort Stevens began 28 October 1942 and completed 31 August 1944. Construction of Battery 246, Fort Columbia, began 28 October 1942 and completed, less installation of tubes, 2 February 1945. Shipment of the tubes has been deferred until a later date. Construction of Battery 247, Fort Canby, began 9 February 1943 and was competed 31 August 1944.
11. The Anti-Motor Torpedo Boat defenses were approved for the installation of a battery of two fixed and two mobile type 90MM guns emplaced on Jetty A at Fort Canby and Clatsop Spit at Fort Stevens, respectively. Two 37M guns were installed at each battery to cover the minimum dead areas of the M9 Directors. Pending receipt of the 90MM armament, a battery of two 75MM guns was temporarily installed on Clatsop Spit, Fort Stevens, for AMTB defense. At Fort Stevens, two mobile 90MM guns ere later received and emplaced. The fixed 90mm installation was started in June 1943 and completed in December 1943. All installations were sited to cover the entrance to the Columbia River.
12. Anti-aircraft armament is not authorized under the Modernization Program, except for AMTB armament and T/O & E automatic weapons.
13. A Buoyant Army Controlled Submarine Mine project consisting of eight groups of 19 mines each planted in two lines of 4 groups was approved by the Secretary of War, 30 June 1937. On 8 December 1941 action was taken to obtain and convert a local ferry boat into an improvised mine planter pending receipt of a standard planter. Actual planting of the buoyant project began 25 December 1941 and was completed on 3 March 1942. The delay in competing the project was occasioned by severe weather and water conditions prevailing during the period. The Army Mine Planter Randolph (MP-7) and the 14th Coast Artillery Mine Planter Battery was assigned to the harbor defenses 11 January 1943. An Audio Reception System was installed westerly of the project 5 May 11943 to provide prior warning of vessels approaching the field. On 24 February 1943, the War Department approved conversion of the buoyant project to a newly developed ground type mine project. The new project consisted of 12 groups of 13 mines each planted in three lines of 4 groups. Conversion of the project commenced 2 June 1943 and proceeded as rapidly as the material was received from the Submarine Mine Depot, Fort Monroe, Virginia. The new project was completed 31 March 1944. The effectiveness of the project was greatly increased due to the stability of the field, and for the reason that each ground mine contained a 3000 pound charge compared to the 300 pound charge of the buoyant mine. Orders to deactivate the mine project were received 7 July 1945.
14. Joint Army-Navy defense of the Columbia River and control of shipping was effected on 8 December 1941 by the establishment of an Harbor Entrance Control Post at Fort Stevens and an examination battery under its control, supported by all active seacoast armament. In view of the fact that the Navy was unable to provide an examination vessel for HECP, a procedure was put into effect whereby Columbia River Bar Pilots were required to board and pilot all inbound and outbound vessels. Identification and clearance was made by means of radio and/or visual signaling from the pilot vessel to the HECP. The Harbor Entrance Control Post was inactivated 5 August 1944 and control of shipping was made the responsibility of the local Coast Guard authorities and the Harbor Defense Command Post. The procedure of identification and clearance of vessels, as previously established for the Harbor Entrance Control Post, was continued. HECP and Examination Battery were discontinued 18 September 1945.
15. In addition to the above, and in accordance with the mission of the Harbor Defenses, a land defense system and land defense units were organized covering the area for which the harbor defenses were responsible, including all land areas contiguous to the defensive sea area and the shores of the Columbia River as for inland as Tongue Point.
16. In April 1942, the 267th Coast Artillery Battalion was activated at Fort Worden, and in June 1942 was assigned Fort Stevens, Oregon, as unit training station. The advance cadre arrived 12 June 1942, and the remaining personnel of the battalion 28 August 1942. This battalion trained for services in the Alaskan Defense Command and upon completion of training on 9 November 1942, departed Fort Stevens. The 267th Coast Artillery Battalion was the only large group to be trained as a unit in the Harbor Defenses of the Columbia for service outside the United States during World War II.
17. The fluctuating strength of the harbor defenses and the principal units assigned are shown in the table below for the following dates:
DATE OFF W/O EM
31 Jan 1941 41 2 708
30 Jun 1941 126 4 1982
7 Dec 1941 139 4 2017
1 Jan 1942 139 4 2014
30 Jun 1942 129 5 2194
1 Nov 1942 160 4 2640
31 Dec 1942 148 6 2326
31 Mar 1943 132 17 2476
30 Jun 1943 119 18 1777
31 Dec 1944 137 17 2012
30 Jun 1944 94 18 1353
31 Dec 1944 86 16 1278
30 Jun 1945 97 16 1227
16 Sep 1945 79 14 903
18. On 3 October 1943 Headquarters Battery, 18th CA, departed for the Harbor Defenses of San Francisco. On 25 April 1944 the 1st Battalion and Battery G, 18th CA, were transferred as a unit to Camp Breckenridge, Kentucky. In October of 1944 a reorganization of the personnel of the harbor defenses was effected when the 249th CA was disbanded and the personnel divided between two Coast Artillery Battalions, namely the 171st and the 249th CA Battalions. The 171st CA Battalion was assigned to Fort Canby and the 249th CA Battalion to Fort Stevens. In addition, there was organized Battery A, Harbor Defenses of Columbia, whose tactical function was manning and maintenance of all searchlights in the harbor defenses. Headquarters Battery, Harbor Defense of Columbia, remained in existence as before manning the administration and command sections normally assigned to this type battery.
19. Final reorganization: As a result of the final reorganization of the harbor defenses, effective 15 September 1945, the strength and assignment of units in the harbor defenses is as follow:
UNIT OFF W/O EM EW
Hq & Hq Btry, HDC OFF 31 W/O 4 EM 205
Battery A, HDC OFF 4 EM 53
Battery B, HDC OFF 4 EM 138
Battery C, HDC OFF 3 EM 120
1924 SCU (?) OFF 29 W/O 1 EM 52 EW 80
Totals OFF 71 W/O 5 EM 568 EW 80
Hq & Hq Btry, HDC Administrative and Command and Mine Sections
Battery A, HDC All Searchlights
Battery B, HDC Battery 245
Battery C, HDC AMTB
Battery B, 249th CAMP Battery, will be inactivated upon complete deactivation of the mine field.