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U.S. Army Coast Artillery Corps
Coast Artilliary Insignia.png
Active 1901–1950
Country United States
Allegiance United States
Branch United States Army
Garrison/HQ Fort Monroe
Patron Saint Barbara
Colors Scarlet
Mascot(s) Oozlefinch
Major General (Chief of coast artillery) Arthur Murray, Erasmus M. Weaver, Jr., Frank W. Coe, Andrew Hero, Jr

The U.S. Army Coast Artillery Corps (CAC) was a corps level organization responsible for coastal and harbor defense of the United States between 1901 and 1950.


As early as 1882 the need for heavy fixed artillery for seacoast defense was noted in Chester A. Arthur's Second Annual Message to Congress where he noted:

"I call your attention to the recommendation of the Secretary and the board that authority be given to construct two more cruisers of smaller dimensions and one fleet dispatch vessel, and that appropriations be made for high-power rifled cannon for the torpedo service and for other harbor defenses."[1]

Army leaders realized that heavy fixed artillery required different training programs and tactics than mobile field artillery. The Artillery Corps was divided into two types: field artillery and coast artillery. This process began in February 1901 with the authorization of 30 numbered companies of field artillery (commonly called batteries) and 126 numbered companies of coast artillery. 82 existing heavy batteries were designated coast artillery companies, and 44 new CA companies were created by splitting existing units and filling their ranks with recruits. The head of the Artillery Corps became the Chief of Artillery in the rank of brigadier general with jurisdiction over both types of artillery.

The coast artillery became responsible for the installation and operation of the controlled mine fields that were planted to be under observation, fired electrically and protected by fixed guns.[2] With that responsibility the Corps began to acquire the vessels required to plant and maintain the mine fields and cables connecting the mines to the mine casemate ashore organized as a "Submarine Mine Battery" within the installation command.[2] The larger vessels, mine planters, were civilian crewed until the creation of the U.S. Army Mine Planter Service (AMPS) and Warrant Officer Corps to provide officers and engineers for the ships designated as mine planters.[3][4] The mine component was considered to be among the principal armament of coastal defense works.[4]

Taft Board and creation of the CAC

16-inch coast artillery gun, Ft. Story, USA 1942

In 1905, after the experiences of the Spanish-American War, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed a new board, under Secretary of War William Howard Taft. They updated some standards and reviewed the progress on the Endicott board's program. Most of the changes recommended by this board were technical; such as adding more searchlights, electrification (lighting, communications, and projectile handling), and more sophisticated optical aiming techniques. The board also recommended fortifications in territories acquired from Spain: Cuba and the Philippines, as well as Hawaii, and a few other sites. Defenses in Panama were authorized by the Spooner Act of 1902. The Taft program fortifications differed slightly in battery construction and had fewer numbers of guns at a given location than those of the Endicott program. By the beginning of World War I, the United States had a coastal defense system that was equal to any other nation.

The rapidity of technological advances and changing techniques increasingly separated coastal defenses (heavy) from field artillery (light). Officers were rarely qualified to command both, requiring specialization. As a result, in 1907, Congress split the Field Artillery Branch (United States), and Coast Artillery into separate branches, creating a separate Coast Artillery Corps (CAC), and authorized an increase in the Coast Artillery Corps to 170 numbered companies. In 1907 the United States Army Field Artillery School at Fort Monroe became the Coast Artillery School, which operated until 1946, and in 1908, the Chief of Artillery became the Chief of Coast Artillery. The official birthday of the Army Warrant Officer Corps is July 9, 1918 when an act of congress established the Army Mine Planter Service as part of the Coast Artillery Corps. Implementation of the Act by the Army was published in War Department Bulletin 43, dated 22 July 1918. [1].

By the end of the Second World War such fixed coastal defenses were obsolete and the artillery branches were merged back together in 1950[2] with some of the mine planter vessels being transferred to Navy and designated Auxiliary Minelayer (ACM / MMA).

Coast Artillery Corps sound locator and searchlight 1932

Chief of Coast Artillery

The Office of the Chief of Coast Artillery was abolished 9 March 1942. with functions transferred to Commanding General, Army Ground Forces, effective 9 March 1942, by Circular 59, War Department, 2 March 1942.

Image Rank Name Begin Date End Date Notes
Arthur Murray.jpg Major General Arthur MurrayArthur Murray 1908-07-011 July 1908 1911-03-1414 March 1911 a[›]
Erasmus M. Weaver.jpg Major General Erasmus M. WeaverErasmus M. Weaver, Jr. 1908-07-0115 March 1911 1918-5-02828 May 1918 a[›]
Major General Frank W. Coe Frank W. Coe 1918-05-2424-may-1918 1926-03-1919 March 1926 a[›]
Andrew Hero Jr..jpg Major General Andrew Hero, Jr Andrew Hero, Jr 1926-03-2020 March 1926 1930-03-2121 March 1930 a[›]
John W. Gulick.jpg Major General John W. Gulick John W. Gulick 1930-05-2222 March 1930 1934-03-2121 March 1934 a[›]
William F. Hase.jpg Major General William F. HaseWilliam F. Hase 1934-05-2626 March 1934 1935-01-2020 January 1935 a[›]
Major General Harry L. Steele.jpg Major General Harry L. SteeleHarry L. Steele 1935-01-2121 January 1935 1936-03-3131 March 1936 a[›]
Archibald H. Sunderland.jpg Major General Archibald H. Sunderland Archibald H. Sunderland 1936-04-011 April 1936 1940-03-3131 March 1940 a[›]
Joseph A. Green.jpg Major General Joseph A. GreenJoseph A. Green 1940-04-011 April 1940 1942-03-099 March 1942 a[›]


Coast Artillery School device

In 1901, the regimental organization of the US Army artillery was abolished, more companies were added, and given numerical designations.

  • 126 companies of heavy (coast) artillery
  • 30 companies of light (field) artillery

In 1907 the Coast Artillery Corps was established and the Field artillery re-regimented

The Corps constantly reorganized the numbered companies until 1924. but during WWI created 61 regiments from the numbered companies, for service with the AEF. Most of these were disbanded immediately after the war. In 1924 the Coast Artillery Corps tried to go back to the regimental system, and numbered companies were returned to letter designations. (In order to promote esprit-de-corps, the first 7 regiments were linked to the original 7 regiments of artillery).[citation needed]

In WWII more expansion and reorganization occurred to the battalion/brigade system. More than 900 units were created with the following titles:

  • Coast Artillery Battalion
  • Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion
  • Antiaircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion
  • Antiaircraft Artillery Gun Battalion
  • Antiaircraft Artillery Searchlight Battalion
  • Barrage balloon Battalions

and later

  • Antiaircraft Artillery Missile Battalions.

Coast Artillery School

Distinctive unit insignia

  • Description- A Gold color metal and enamel device 1 inch (2.54 cm) in height overall consisting of a shield blazoned: Per fess wavy Gules and Azure in chief on an oval escutcheon of the first (Gules) in front of the cannon saltirewise Or an Artillery projectile paleways within a bordure of the last (Or) in base a submarine mine of the like (Or).
  • Background- The distinctive unit insignia was approved on 16 October 1929.
  • Device
  • Blazon
  • Shield- Per fess wavy Gules and Azure in chief on an oval escutcheon of the first (Gules) in front of the cannon saltirewise Or an Artillery projectile paleways within a bordure of the last (Or) in base a submarine mine of the like (Or).
  • Supporters- Two cannons paleways Or.
  • Motto: "Defendimus" (We Defend).
  • Symbolism
  • Shield

The design was used by the Coast Artillery School for many years but was never recorded by the War Department. It is a shield of red and blue parted horizontally by a wavy line; on the upper red portion of the shield is the insignia of the Coast Artillery, and on the lower blue portion a submarine mine in gold. A scroll bearing the words “Coast Artillery School” may be added to the device.

  • Supporters- Two cannons, muzzles up, are used as supporters.
  • Background- The device was approved on 8 November 1924.

See also


  1. Chester A. Arthur| Second Annual Message to Congress
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 |Coast Artillery Organization – A Brief Overview | Bolling W. Smith & William C. Gaines
  3. | U. S. Army Warrant Officers Association| “LET GO!”
  4. 4.0 4.1 | Ft. Miles | Principal Armament – Mine Field

External links

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