Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
(Camp San Pedro, Camp Drum, Fort
Drum and Wilmington Depot)
by Robert B. Roberts
Established as a five
company post originally named Camp San Pedro in January 1862,
and located one mile from Wilmington, now a part of Los Angeles,
this post until 1 December 1863 called itself Camp Drum; it was
thereafter designated as Drum Barracks. It was named by the War
Department in honor of Lieutenant Colonel Richard Drum, assistant
adjutant general of the Department of California. When it was
built, the Civil War was already being waged and the government
considered California as a doubtful state on the question of
slavery. The states northern half was about equally divided in
its sympathies, but the southern half, particularly the area
around Los Angeles, where at least 75 percent of the Americans
had come from slave holding states, was strongly pro-secession.
It was determined that California must be held loyal to the Union.
Captain (later Major General) Winfeld Scott Hancock was sent
to Los Angeles to establish a quartermaster depot, ostensibly
to have his troops fight the Indians. But there were no Indians
in the area. The government spent more than a million dollars
on Drum Barracks, a very large sum of money then, Which judiciously
expended could buy an appreciable amount of allegiance. While
most other California posts were simple adobe structures roofed
with corrugated iron, Drum Barracks was entirely different. The
elegance of its officers' quarters impressed the inhabitants
of Los Angeles.
Drum Barracks however. soon became a staging station for troops
in transit. On April 13, 1862, Colonel (later Brigadier General)
James Henry Carleton led an army of more than 2,000 California
Volunteers from the post to begin the longest and most difficult
march of the Civil War. His route was through Temecula to Arizona
and New Mexico and to the Rio Grande Valley, then being invaded
by Confederate armed forces. Drum Barracks, intermittently occupied
during the war, was finally abandoned on November 7, 1871.
from Encyclopedia of Historic Forts: The Military, Pioneer,
and Trading Posts of the United States
by Justin M. Ruhge
Between April 1861 and April 1865 the
United States was torn apart by that terrible conflict known
variably as The Civil War, The War Between the States and The
War of the Rebellion.
As North-South tensions flared into open hostilities in early
1861, the Federal Government decided to consolidate and strengthen
the Union presence in Southern California by moving men and equipment
from several widely dispersed military posts to the Los Angeles
area, among them Fort Tejon and Fort Mojave.
The purpose of this consolidation was twofold. First, to create
a major staging area for California military personnel assigned
to duties in the Southwest and to send troops to the major theaters
of war in the east. Many career officers but only a few California
volunteers were sent to the east coast. These were primarily
enlistees in the California Hundred and the California Battalion,
a total of about 500 men. Troops headed east would go by ship
to Panama, across the Isthmus and again board a ship for east
Secondly, it was clear that a sufficient force should be available
locally to act on short notice to insure that California and
the New Mexico and Arizona Territories remained a part of the
Union. Demonstrations in Los Angeles and other Southern California
and Northern California towns had shown that much of the local
population, perhaps a majority, were Southern sympathizers and
a "secession company" was even holding public drills,
deliberately displaying the Bear Flag instead of the Stars and
Stripes. The military units ordered to the Los Angeles post were
encamped first close to town at a site called Camp Fitzgerald
after a recently deceased Fort Tejon officer, then moved to the
new Camp Latham, located eight miles southwest where Culver City
And then there were the Native American uprisings all over California.
Sometime before the end of 1861, a new camp was established at
Wilmington, later called New San Pedro, on thirty acres of land
made available by Phineas Banning. The formal conveyance of the
title to the first of two pieces of land donated by Banning and
the one by Banning and his partner B. D. Wilson were not recorded
until October 31, 1863.
During the last half of 1861, regular troops from other posts
and new recruits poured into Camp Latham, then under the command
of Captain Winfield Scott Hancock. His service was short lived
when he was assigned later that year to duty in the east, where
he became one of General Grant's favorite generals.
On October 4, 1861 Colonel George Wright assumed command after
he was transferred from a post in Oregon.
On January 13, 1862 Camp Drum was established by General Order
No. 4 signed by Lieutenant Colonel George S. Evans, 2nd Cavalry
of California Volunteers. The name of the camp honored Lieutenant
Colonel Richard Coulter Drum, then Assistant Adjutant General,
Department of the Pacific at San Francisco. The name was changed
to Drum Barracks in March of 1864.
By March 1862 all of the troops of the 4th California Volunteer
Infantry Companies F, G, and H at Camp Latham at Ballona Creek
on Ballona Ranch had been transferred to Camp Drum. One company
which was needed to keep an eye on the active secessionist elements
in Los Angeles where at least 75% of Americans had come from
slave holding states.
Aside from Banning's personal interests, there were real advantages
in locating the camp near the major shipping terminus on free
land. Banning continued to serve the military establishment in
important ways. His small steamer, the Ada Hancock, had handled
most of the lighterage at New San Pedro, the transport of troops
and supplies from ships anchored offshore to the wharf. A second
steam lighter, the Comet, was launched in February 1862 to help
with the rapidly increasing activity in the harbor, and a third
lighter was planned. In February, work began on a large warehouse
near the wharf to be used as a depot for government supplies.
Banning ran numerous wagon trains to supply the forts of the
desert's "horse soldiers" and the mines in the Arizona
On October 7, 1862 Lieutenant Colonel Harvey Lee assumed command
of Camp Drum. At this time the camp was composed of tents on
a windswept and sandy lot where life for the recruits and regular
soldiers was very unpleasant. He requested more permanent facilities
for his troops. Eleven months later, permanent facilities were
in place. Nearly a million dollars was spent on nineteen buildings.
The elegance of the officers' quarters impressed the inhabitants
of Los Angeles. The junior officers' quarters were a 16-room
Approximately 17,000 Californians enlisted in the Union forces
during the Civil War years. Most of these were in the California
Volunteers. This included the only units to fight in the eastern
theater of war, the "California Hundred" and the "California
Battalion." They became part of the Second Massachusetts
Cavalry and fought in many important engagements from early 1863
to the end of the war and suffered more than 60% casualties.
Drum Barracks was a staging station for troops in transit. The
First Dragoons from Fort Tejon under Major James Henry Carleton
were ordered to Los Angeles to support Captain Winfield Scott
Hancock. Shortly thereafter, Major Carleton, who had a very long
and distinguished Army career, was promoted to colonel and given
command of the 1st California Volunteer Infantry. In December
1861 Colonel Carleton received orders to organize an expedition
to the Rio Grande to assist New Mexico and Colorado forces in
repelling a Confederate Army of Texans and Californians who had
captured several Union posts along the Rio Grande and were planning
an advance west through Arizona and eventually into California.
Colonel Carleton and his staff at Camp Drum performed the planning
for this expedition, to be known as the "California Column."
The operation was launched in April 1862 and was successfully
concluded in August after the retreat of the Texans. This march
of 2,300 men and a massive supply train across the California
and Arizona deserts in the heat of summer will always be recognized
as a masterpiece of military planning and execution.
Courtesy Drum Barracks
Civil War Museum.
U.S. Army Headquarters for Southern California and Arizona Territory,
1861-1871, and Civil War Museum, Wilmington, California.
Courtesy Drum Barracks Civil War Museum.
Colonel Carleton's biography is well told in Drumbeats, Volume
2, No 1, January 1988, published quarterly by the Drum Barracks
Civil War Museum, Wilmington, California.
Colonel Carleton was instrumental in establishing the desert
forts and redoubts reported elsewhere in this history.
Drum Barracks was deactivated by the end of 1870. After a brief
consideration about turning it into a Soldiers' Home, the decision
was made to abandon it and dispose of the property, which had
fallen into disrepair except for the hospital and senior officers'
quarters. Only 90 men were left at the Barracks for guard and
fatigue duty by this time. On October 28, 1871 all quartermaster
and commercial supplies and troops were shipped to Fort Yuma
on the same steamer. On March 22, 1873, General Order No. 45
from the War Department in Washington directed that two pieces
of land donated by Phineas Banning and one piece donated by Banning
and his partner, B. D. Wilson, should be returned to them after
all buildings had been sold or otherwise disposed of. The buildings
were sold at auction on July 31, 1873 with Banning buying five
of them for $2,917, Wilson buying one for $200 and two "government
corrals" going to a Mr. Downing for $510.
The saga of Drum Barracks after it reverted to private ownership
is a long story. However, in 1963 when the only remaining building
was put up for sale and probable demolition, Walter Holstein,
a dedicated historian and principal of the Adult Education Department
of Banning High School started a preservation movement that led
to the formation of the Society for the Preservation of Drum
Barracks. The result was the purchase of the property by the
end of 1963. An energetic lobbying effort over the next three
years that included then Governor Ronald Reagan resulted in purchase
of the property by the State of California in 1967. The Society
retained responsibility for maintenance and operation of the
Barracks as a historical site open to the public.
In September 1986, the State turned custody of the Museum to
the City of Los Angeles to form the Drum Barracks Civil War Museum
in the original junior officer's quarter's sixteen-room structure.
The museum became part of the Department of Recreation and Parks.
It is the only intact U.S. Army building from the Civil War era
in Southern California and one of the few remaining in the Western
The Museum is an artifact of the civil war in itself. However,
it also has a collection of period uniforms, documents from the
Civil War about Wilmington and an autographed book by Gilbert
Dunbar. This document has the signatures of 50 Union generals
and that of many famous persons covering a period from 1862 to
1917. In 1969 a Gatling gun was donated by the Wilmington Cemetery
for restoration and display in the museum. Gatling guns were
first introduced during the Civil War and used in some of the
battles. At one time in the 1980s, the museum also displayed
a four- pounder iron cannon on an army field carriage.
Reference: The Military
History of California, Justin M. Ruhge, 2005, pgs. 419-22; Drum
Barracks web site; The Historic Cannon of California by Justin
M. Ruhge, 2005, pg. 61.
Gatling Gun. 45/70
Caliber. No. 134 by Colt's PT Fire Arms Mfg. Co,
Hartford, Conn., 1875. Mounted on a Reproduction Army Carriage.
It was Serviced by a Four Man Crew, Has 10 Barrels and Can Fire
300 Rounds Per Minute. The Vertical Clip Shown Here Can Hold
Originally Mounted on a Brass Naval Ship Mount.
Gatling Guns Were Developed and Used in Some Battles During the
Photograph Courtesy of the Drum Barracks Civil War Museum, Wilmington,
CA Docent Earl Robinson Shown Above. Photograph Taken by Simie
Four Pounder Iron
Cannon Mounted on a
Field Carriage at the Drum Barracks, 1988.
Photograph by Justin M. Ruhge
Posted 1 May 2012
by Justin Ruhge
This Army depot was located at Wilmington,
a short distance northeast of San Pedro. It was established in
1861 as a supply depot for Drum Barracks and the many Mojave
Desert posts. The Depot was used until about 1870 when Drum Barracks
was closed. The Depot's site was one block long and two blocks
wide. It is bounded by C, Front and Canal Streets in modern Wilmington.
Californias Link to the Civil War
By Marge OBrien, Past Director,
Drum Barracks Museum
Located at Wilmington, in Los
Angeles County, Drum Barracks is California Historical Landmark
No. 169. Their website is http://www.drumbarracks.org/
The wind tugged at the troops clothes
as they stood at attention, waiting. Then the command came: Right
face! March! With the jangling of bridles and the creaking
of accouterments, the final detachments of 1st California Infantry
Regiment, U.S.V., some 350 strong under the command of Colonel
James Carleton, left Camp Drum.
The troops destination was Fort
Yuma, California, where the rest of the force, 2,000 strong,
that history would call the California Column were
mustering, waiting to march. These troops would be reinforcements,
augmenting the army of Col. James Slough U.S.V., now engaged in
operations against Confederate forces in Arizona and New Mexico.
This is arguably the most significant action
taken by Californias military volunteers in the American
Civil War. Ironically, most troops never saw combat against rebels.
They had drilled at two camps but only one would remain. Camp
Drums modest beginning would become Drum Barracks, one of
the largest Army supply facilities on the west coast during the
war. Today one can visit the remnants of Drum Barracks. The State
of California and the City of Los Angeles have established a museum
of Civil War artifacts in the junior officers quarters.
Owned by the state, the museum is operated as a facility of the
City of Los Angeles by the Recreation and Parks Department.
This is the story of Drum Barracks. It is
not the story of Californias involvement in the Civil War.
That is beyond the limited scope of this article. Instead this
is the chronicle of an army post and its constant struggle for
existence. Today people are surprised that, considering the many
deterrents encountered by the Barracks, part of this bridge to
Americas history is still intact.
Camp Drum came into existence only because
Camp Latham, which was the southern
staging area for the wars California Volunteers, was rapidly
becoming overcrowded. Established in late September 1861, Latham
was situated on Ballona Creek in Rancho La Ballona where the present
day intersections of Overland and Jefferson Boulevards are located
in Culver City. A new base of operations was needed, preferably
near a port.
New San Pedro Location
To the rescue came entrepreneur Phineas
Banning. Since the troops that were training at Camp Latham had
originally debarked at his wharf on his land in New San Pedro
(now Wilmington), it seemed a waste of energy to march to Latham,
some 18 miles away, a full days journey. Banning proposed
ceding the Army a tract of land to be used as the mustering camp
outside New San Pedro. This site was located where Avalon Street
and Anaheim Boulevard now cross.
There were problems of inadequate drainage
with this site. A heavy rainfall in early January 1862 washed
the site out, causing discomfort to its inhabitants. In response
to the complaints, Banning proposed a new site on higher ground,
one mile northwest of the town. During the change of sites, the
new camp was named Drum in honor of Lt. Col. Richard Coulter Drum,
Assistant Adjutant General of the Pacific Department of the U.S.
Banning, while being a patriot, also wanted
to see New San Pedro become the largest seaport in Southern California.
With the main Union military supply depot on his land, he got
the United States to give him almost exclusive contracts to supply
and support the Federal armed presence in Southern California
and Arizona for the rest of the war. Because Banning owned and
operated both land and sea transport, it gave him a monopoly on
moving supplies. This would be the springboard that would allow
Banning to eventually amass a fortune.
In mid-March 1862, all the troops that were
drilling at Camp Latham were transferred to Camp Drum, leaving
about a company of soldiers to observe the Los Angeles area. Now
Drum would have sole responsibility to protect Los Angeles County
from Indians and Southern sympathizers.
At the end of April, Carleton and his 350
men marched out of Camp Drum into history, leaving it deserted
and forgotten. In the following months the garrison increased,
but there were problems with the Camp. Tents that would leak badly
when it rained (apparently it did this much of the time) composed
the mens quarters and gritty sea winds would blow across
the sandy plain causing much discomfort. There were no stands
of trees to act as wind breaks; the only vegetation was low scrub.
Also there were no structures nearby that would act as shelters
except the Banning-built warehouse on his wharf a mile away. Troop
morale was low when Lt. Col. Harvey Lee U.S.V. took command on
October 7, 1862. Lee inspected the camp, then fired off an angry
letter to the Camps namesake Col. Drum.
He complained about the conditions of the
camp and the unsuitability of the accommodations there. He concluded
...that I will find it difficult to keep this command in
proper discipline unless quarters are built or a more comfortable
Rather than relocate Drum, the Army saved
it by responding with a large construction program. Lumber was
shipped from the east coast around Cape Horn, South America. The
cost of construction has been estimated at a million dollars,
quite an expenditure for its day. However, there was a war on
and money was the least of the Governments concerns. After
six months an Army barracks, complete with a hospital, stables
and corrals, even a guardhouse, all neatly surrounded by a white
picket fence, had replaced the untenable tent city. An officer,
seeing the new camp for the first time, recalled in a letter:
We were astonished to find the barracks one of the finest
we had ever seen. Some of the men in our company, who had seen
service in the East, said they never saw anything like it.
The Camel Experiment
Camp Drum had been rescued from closing.
It now went on to become the military headquarters for Southern
California and Arizona. As the mustering point for recruits and
soldiers bound for posts in California and Arizona, it was a depot
for supplies and weapons. Its garrison fluctuated from 200 to
6,000 men during the war years. All types of troops were stationed
there including camels! In fact until recent publicity, Drum Barracks
was best known for being the California camel post.
Truth was the camels were at Drum less than
two years. The 31 beasts were originally stationed at Fort Tejon
which guarded Tejon Pass in North Los Angeles County. When the
1st U.S. Dragoons abandoned the fort to act as a deterrent against
possible secession in downtown Los Angeles, the camels accompanied
them. At first they gathered crowds but the novelty of the creatures
soon wore out and residents of Los Angeles began complaining of
the smell, asking the military to move them elsewhere. They came
to Camp Drum in early 1862 joining the other miserable occupants.
An attempt to utilize them as a dromedary
courier line, connecting Drum with Fort Mojave and other outposts,
proved to be a failure and they were ordered sold by Secretary
of War Edwin Stanton. The Barracks camels were removed to
Benicia Arsenal in late 1863 for public auction. The camel experiment
was consigned to oblivion.
Now a permanent Army post, the Barracks
were busy during 1863. That year Los Angeles had several minor
disturbances that involved Southern sympathizers. Troops were
called out to help local law enforcement. When in November of
1863, there came the announcement that a military conscription
quota in California for the Federal army was in effect, rebel
supporters attempted to lynch Los Angeles provost marshall
to prevent him from carrying out the order. Troops from Camp Drum
quickly restored peace.
Role in History
By March of 1864, the Camp was called Drum
Barracks in military dispatches. The Barracks continued to play
a major role in Southern California history. Several Indian disruptions
were quickly quelled and, when the proclamation of new quotas
for conscription into military service was announced in April,
the garrison, remembering the riot of 63, was deployed in
Los Angeles ready for trouble. The quota was filled by volunteers
from the northern part of the state and the crisis lapsed.
Part of the tedium of camp life was relieved
by a furlough off the post. Los Angeles was too far a hike, so
most of the troops would go to nearby Wilmington. It wasn't an
ideal R&R spot. A trooper described the town in a letter home:
The place consists of Bannings residence, blacksmith
shop, soap and tallow factory, coal and lumber yard.. .The distance
to any where from here [ is twenty miles, no roads, no fences,
no houses intervening.
This boredom caused some of the garrison
to dig a seven-mile canal from the San Gabriel River to Wilmington.
With materials supplied by Banning, a dam was constructed and
water diverted to the town and Barracks. The troops received no
extra compensation for the task. The project was completed in
February 1865. By this time, everybody knew the war was winding
down. Each Union success in the east, was one more nail in the
coffin of the Confederacy.
On April 11, 1865, Drum Barracks received
the following telegram: To Colonel James E. Curtis, Commander
Drum Barracks. Lee, with whole army, has surrendered to Grant.
(Signed) F.F. Low, Governor of California.
This terse message spelled the end of the
post. While Los Angeles and the Barracks were celebrating victory,
plans were being made to disband the Barracks. With the death
of Lincoln, the post carried out its last operation against rebels.
Soldiers arrested and briefly detained anyone who exulted
over the assassination of our president.
In late 1870, the camp was officially abandoned.
Only 90 men remained on the post whose structures were deteriorating
rapidly. By 1871, all had left with their equipment and stores
transferred to Fort Yuma. On July 31, 1873 the camps buildings
were sold at an auction. Banning bought five of them for a sum
of $2,917 with his business partner, B. D. Wilson, buying one
for $200. The land was returned to Banning and Wilson.
The saga of the Barracks was not over. In
1874, B. D. Wilson opened a Methodist co-ed college called Wilson
College on the grounds of Drum. The school was a success but was
closed in 1877, moving to a location closer to Los Angeles. Reopened
in 1880, this college probably was the forerunner of the University
of Southern California in Los Angeles.
B. D. Wilson and other notable Wilmington
families continued to live on the grounds. In 1910, Thomas Keaveny
bought the junior officers quarters, turning the 14-room
mansion into a boarding house. This and the powder magazine would
be the only original structures to survive. As Wilson and the
others passed on, their descendants sold off their property to
developers and oil companies. The outlines of Drum Barracks was
slowly submerged in the waves of progress.
But the Barracks did not totally die. Even
though by 1962 the old officers quarters were unlivable,
Keavenys family would not let developers buy the land and
demolish the house they loved. Instead the Society for the Preservation
of Drum Barracks was founded and a plan was developed to save
the house as a historic monument. This touched off a bureaucracy
battle that lasted for years; space precludes it being told in
its entirety. After much struggle with little money, the house
was restored as a Civil War museum.
Drum Barracks lives today as the restored
junior officers quarters. There is the powder magazine but
it has deteriorated and is too far from the museum to be counted.
The mansions 14 rooms contain Civil War artifacts, weapons,
paintings of Barracks commanders, a library dedicated to the study
of the Civil War and southern California history and several rooms
laid out as they might have appeared during the period.
The Drum Barracks is designated City of
Los Angeles Cultural-Historic Monument No. 21, State of California
Historical Landmark No 169, and is on the National Register of
Historic Places. Lead abatement and restoration projects are planned
for the exterior of the building in 2003 and new exhibitions and
displays are designed for the interior. Programs, activities and
attendance steadily increase. Like the letters of its former inhabitants,
it will continue to act as a bridge to a past--a past that only
recently has been rediscovered as an important part of the heritage
of the United States. We can all be proud to be a part of this
Robinson, John W. Los Angeles in Civil
War Days 1860-65, Los Angeles: Dawsons Book Shop, 1977.
Hunt, Aurora. Army of the Pacific 1860-66,
Glendale: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1951.
Drum Barracks arrived on the military
scene with a splash and hit its peak within its first few months.
Everything that came after the rush of outfitting and dispatching
the California Column was little more than anti-climactic.
No pun is intended by the reference to
a splash at its founding, but this does describe its first days.
A half mile from the port of New San Pedro, today merely one
of many areas within the Los Angeles complex, the post first
was "on a low, flat plain. . . sandy," described One
occupant who added that the sand supposedly "mixes into
mud after the rains begin to fall, until the roads are nearly
or quite impassable."
When the post was moved to higher ground
a mile from the town, the rains came and the place became a veritable
island. Rain bad prevented movement inland and "for nearly
a whole week it was impossible to send an empty wagon one mile
from camp, much less to bring in any loaded team," the post
commander reported. "At the same time communication by water
was entirely cut off."
Drum was located on property presented
to the United States by Phineas T. Banning for $1. Banning was
the guiding spirit of New San Pedro and be knew a good thing
when be saw it. As the Army Inspector noted in 1866, Banning
was "doing his 'level best' . . . and it was a big 'best'.
. . to build up a nascent city ... He was an enterprising Delawarean
... wide awake and keen for business; bad come to California
a common stage-driver; but now ran stages and freight-wagons
of his own over southern California and Arizona, for eight hundred
and a thousand miles ... was now state senator on the Republican
side and talked of for governor . . ."
Banning seemed to have many fingers in
the Army business at Drum. When it was noted that steamers could
not tie up at piers in New San Pedro harbor because there were
no piers, Banning installed himself in the lighterage business.
His tugs and barges willingly ferried troops and supplies ashore
at rates at least be felt were fair.
And when the post ran short of water,
Banning enthusiastically acquired a right-of-way for a series
of ditches and flumes to bring water 12 miles from the San Gabriel
river. He provided 100,000 feet of lumber but the Army supplied
200 soldiers to do the work. After the Army took the water it
needed, the remainder went to the town and, coincidentally enough,
to irrigate barley fields owned by the same Banning.
Regardless of any machinations that were
alluded to in reports, Banning drew the praise of the 1866 inspector.
"A man of large and liberal ideas, with great native force
of character and power of endurance, he was invaluable to Southern
California and Arizona, and both of these sections owe him a
debt of gratitude, which they can never repay," was the
The large and liberal business apparently
entered into the Drum construction plans. An estimated million
dollars were spent on the post, prompting General H. W. Halleck,
in his 1865 report to describe it as "a very large and expensive
depot and barracks." He complained, "I can perceive
no good reason for the enormous expenses
which have been incurred at that place."
When General Carleton was at Drum, extravagant
construction was the least of his thoughts. He was devoting every
minute, sheet of paper, and jar of ink to insuring that his California
Column went forth promptly and in good order.
He issued detailed instructions for the
amount of baggage his officers could take, setting a maximum
of 80 pounds per company officer and prohibiting 11 mess-chests,
or trunks, or mattresses on the march." He directed that
each company would be allowed only two wagons for all of its
equipment and, once loaded, "the weight of wagon will be
increased to 3,000 pounds by adding barley as forage for the
His soldiers received a check list of
what they should bring. Each was to wear the "uniform hat
without trimmings," a blouse, pair of trousers, pair of
stockings, woolen shirt, pair of drawers, and "a cravat
in lieu of the leather stock." In his knapsack he was to
pack a greatcoat, blanket, forage cap, woolen shirt, pair of
drawers, pair of stockings, towel, two handkerchiefs, "one
fine and one coarse comb, one sewing kit, one piece of soap,
one toothbrush," one fork, spoon, and plate. In addition,
each was to have a canteen, haversack, tin cup and wear a good
The reaction of one infantryman to this
Compound load is quoted by Aurora Hunt in her book on Carleton:
I have often heard the groans of the heavily loaded pack mules
moving past on their way to the mountains," be said, "but
never did I sympathize with them until I threw the burden off
my back and rolled in the desert sand after a 20-mile march."
Even as be rolled his maps and squared
his "uniform bat without trimmings" to move out of
Drum on April 13, 1862, Carleton penned parting instructions
to the detail left behind. They were told not to spend a cent
of public funds without Carleton , s approval. "There are
many teams here fitting up for the expedition," he added.
"These are to be prepared in the most perfect manner possible
for the service required of them."
And from Camp Wright, 120 miles away,
Carleton sent a final word of advice for the troops to follow,
plus a request: "Have the troops walk at least half the
time, and have at least two hours' halt to graze midday each
day's march. The soldiers must be drilled at the saber exercise
on horseback while marching at least an hour each day. The horses
must be kept fresh and in good condition, even though the men
walk most of the way. Please get from Mr. Banning two of Captain
Moore's umbrellas and bring them on."
Umbrellas or not, military detachments
were dispatched from Drum throughout the Civil War for the fighting
posts inland. Even on the day that Lee surrendered at Appomattox,
a unit of the Seventh California Volunteer Infantry left Drum
for a year long tour in Arizona.
After Civil War, post activity dwindled
though in 1866 Army inspector reported vicinity included "perhaps
500 inhabitants, more or less in his service, or employed at
Drum Barracks." By 1869, post had permanent detail of only
20 men and, surgeon commented, it "is now in poor repair
and the flume valueless, the water supply being carted daily
from the wells at Wilmington. The buildings are seldom occupied
and troops passing in transit to or from Arizona usually go into
camp somewhere in the vicinity." Tiny garrison was used
for "guard and fatigue duties, but is too weak to be able
to keep the post in good repair." In 1873, Congress passed
bill returning site to Banning and Wilson, his partner, and they
bought most of the buildings at auction that netted government
$6,357 for its $1,000,000 investment. The 16-room officers' quarters
cost Banning $1,025; the 6,220 feet of picket fencing, $76. Mansion,
Banning's home, stands at edge of former military post in center
of Banning Park."
Last remainder of Drum Barracks is this
former officers' quarters, now the City of Los Angeles's Civil
War Museum. It was a duplex, has 16 rooms each measuring 18 by
20 feet with 14 foot ceilings, and included four fireplaces and
mahogany balustrades and two long stairways. All permanent buildings
at post were elaborately constructed. "We were astonished
to find Drum Barracks one of the finest we bad ever seen,"
commented one California Volunteer. "Some of the men in
our company who had seen service in the East said that they had
never seen anything like it . The Banning Mansion (below) is
memorial museum to original owner of barracks site.
Camels came to Camp Drum as almost final
chapter in pre-Civil War experiment. In 1863, Major Clarence
E. Bennett, post commander, complained, "They had been kept
at this post a long time on forage when in San Bernardino and
various places within 100 miles of here they could have been
subsisted without the expenditure of one cent for forage."
He recommended the 36 camels at Drum be tested for service across
Mojave Desert and be shipped to Fort Mojave because almost all
grass at Drum was gone "and in little time the plains for
miles and miles here will be perfectly bare." He advised
they be carefully trained and tended by "an energetic officer
whose conduct was characterized by sobriety and integrity.- He
blamed failure of previous camel use on fact government employees
"regard service with camels extremely unpleasant."
He said, "In appearance camels are extremely ugly, in gait
very rough, in herding inclined to wander, and with their long
strides they make haste slowly, keeping their herders on the
go; they offer no facilities for stealing." The idea was
not approved and camels were auctioned off at Benicia Depot the
next year. Although this picture is identified officially -as
Drum Barracks, buildings resemble quartermaster and commissary
storehouses at Wilmington Depot. (Illustration courtesy of Herbert
DRUM'S DESIGNATION had its growing pains.
Originally "Camp San Pedro," it was changed to Camp
Drum to honor departmental adjutant. On May 21, 1863, commander
recommended to that officer that post be redesignated "Fort
Drum" to "better express the honor intended to the
individual after whom it was named ... it being a permanent post
with barracks, quarters, magazine, depot, etc." After recommendation
was repeated in September, question was settled by order of November
25, 1863: "From and after December 1, 1863, the official
designation of Camp Drum, these headers, will be Drum Barracks."
At this time, Drum Barracks included "quarters for officers
and men of five companies, a commanding officer's quarters, hospital,
cavalry stables, a stone magazine, ordnance storehouse, brick
bakery guardhouse, stables, and offices" and was headquarters
for District of Southern California. Post was surrounded by picket
fence, 1,638 by 1,480 feet. (Redrawn from plat in National Archives.
Illustration courtesy of Herbert M. Hart)
Providing supply and storage facilities
for Drum Barracks was Wilmington Depot, a mile away, a single
block wide and two long bordered by C, Front, and Canal Streets.
All buildings were frame. Two storerooms were 80 by 40 feet each,
capable of holding a year's supplies for four companies. Wagon
shed was 536 feet long, 15 wide, and included saddler's shop,
harness room, and miscellaneous storage rooms. Barn was 270 by
70 feet, 16 feet high ceiling from floor that was five feet above
ground; it could store 1,600,000 pounds of bay. In 1862, inspector
complained of damp ground at depot, adding "The new buildings
used for storehouses are admirably adapted for this purpose .
. . I think they are raised sufficiently high to prevent any
injurious effects." Site of depot was provided by Phineas
Banning, donor of Drum site. (Redrawn from plat in Colonel Fred
B. Rogers Collection. Illustration courtesy of Herbert M. Hart)
This page was
reprinted with permission from Old Forts of the Far West,
published in 1965