Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Camp Downey
In mid-July 1861, the War Department requested California's Governor Downey for raise a force of volunteers, infantry and cavalry, to protect that part of the overland stage and mail route between the Sierras and the Rockies. Recruits were plentiful and they were sent to two training camps that had been established on the east side of San Francisco Bay County, the infantry to Camp Downey and the cavalry to Camp Merchant. Camp Downey overlooked Lake Merritt in today's Oakland, on today's Seventh Avenue. The camp was established by Lieutenant Colonel J. R. West with the 1st Infantry, California Volunteers, on August 31, 1861, On September 15, Lieutenant Colonel West and Companies A, B, C, E, G, and H left the camp en route far Los Angeles.