Heritage, Volume 10, Number 1, Winter 1992 Page: 22
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The legislative act of 1911 went a long
way toward clarifying legal matters regarding
Fort San Jacinto, but it could not address
other, equally complex, issues that
were debated on a national level. Even
during World War I there was disagreement
within the War Department about
the extent to which the fortifications in
Galveston were obsolete and therefore not
worthy of being repaired and/or protected.
Indeed, it was not until the years immediately
preceding World War II that a mission
was expressed for Fort San Jacinto and
a clear plan formulated and carried out.
Following the acquisition of clear title
to the military reservation, the Chief of
Engineers authorized an examination of
Galveston Harbor. As a result of the study,
a recommendation was made that the seawall
that the City of Galveston had begun
be extended 10,300 feet by the federal
government and that the grade behind the
wall be raised so that accommodations for
a garrison could be constructed safely.
Momentum seemed great for the work
at Fort San Jacinto, but by 1914 the official
opinion at the War Department had
changed, perhaps because of the onset of
World War I. That event necessitated con
siderable other work in connection with
seacoast fortifications that was considered
to be more important. Indeed, it was the
sentiment of Congress that no appropriated
monies should be spent on the seawall
project until approximately 600 acres of
land had been donated to the federal government
and the County or City of
Galveston committed itself to the construction
of at least an additional 3,300 feet
Others questioned whether funds should
be spent at all on modernizing the batteries
when the government had not worked out
a comprehensive plan for refortification.
Riche pointed out that the City of
Galveston presented an unusual case insofar
as protection was concerned because it
projected 1,000 feet in front of the line of
forts on the island. For that reason alone,
the objective "defense against bombardment
by capital ships" was an unattainable
Conflict and confusion continued when
the batteries were damaged by a storm in
1915. By early 1916, it was clear that the
expenditure of funds to repair fortifications
that had sustained storm damage was
pointless unless protective devices were
This photograph, taken in 1990, of C.R.F. station (Fort San Jacinto) associated with Battery George Croghan
and destruction wreaked by vandals.
erected so that such damage would not
recur. As a result, Congress was moved to
authorize a 10,300-foot-long extension to
the Galveston seawall later in 1916. Pressure
then was placed on Galveston to make
a large tract of land available to the government.
On May 11, 1917, Maco Stewart
deeded approximately 600 acres south of
the Fort San Jacinto Reservation to the
United States government. Construction
of the first segment of the seawall extension
beganJune 20,1918, and concluded in
March 1921 when crews arrived at the
vicinity of Battery Mercer, the southernmost
of the Fort San Jacinto fortifications.
While the issue of the need for a seawall
had been settled, the question of what to do
with the fortifications at Fort San Jacinto
was still unresolved. By August 1918, the
4.72-inch rapid fire guns had been withdrawn
from Battery Hogan for use on transport
ships. On August 7, 1919, Hogan was
declared obsolete and no longer a part of
the seacoast defenses.
In September 1919, the Galveston fortifications
were damaged somewhat by a
hurricane, and the following year, the emplacements
were examined and their conditions
assessed. Three of the four fortifications
at Fort San Jacinto
were in service and, with
the other forts on the Island,
were believed to be
adequate for protecting
Galveston from bombardment.
The attention of the
government and local
community then focused
on completion of the seawall
between 1922 and
January 1926 when the
wall terminated at the
south jetty and material
was dredged from the ship
channel to provide fill for
and raise the land of Fort
San Jacinto reservation.
While there was very
little military activity at
Fort San Jacinto between
1922 and the mid-1930s,
facilities were improved in
1936 and supplemented
during the early 1940s as
the nation recognized a
need to upgrade coastal
fortifications during World
shows graffiti War II. As part of the Sea
coast Defense program,
22 HERITAGE * WINTER 1992
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 10, Number 1, Winter 1992, periodical, Winter 1992; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45418/m1/22/: accessed November 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.