California State Military Department
The California State Military Museum
A United States Army Museum Activity
Preserving California's Military Heritage
 
Historic California Posts
Drum Barracks
(Camp San Pedro, Camp Drum, Fort Drum, and Wilmington Depot)
 
 
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.
Drum Barracks
California's Civil War Museum
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 coast ports.

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 is today.

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 Territory.

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 building.

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.
 
 
 
Drum Barracks
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 United States.

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 30 Rounds.
Originally Mounted on a Brass Naval Ship Mount.
Gatling Guns Were Developed and Used in Some Battles During the Civil War.
Photograph Courtesy of the Drum Barracks Civil War Museum, Wilmington, CA Docent Earl Robinson Shown Above. Photograph Taken by Simie Seaman.
 
 
Four Pounder Iron Cannon Mounted on a
Field Carriage at the Drum Barracks, 1988.
Photograph by Justin M. Ruhge

Posted 1 May 2012


Drum Barracks:
California’s Link to the Civil War

By Marge O’Brien, Past Director, Drum Barracks

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 California’s 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 Drum’s 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 California’s 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 America’s history is still intact.

Camp Drum came into existence only because Camp Latham, which was the southern staging area for the war’s 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 day’s 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. Army.

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 men’s 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 Camp’s 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 location selected.”

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 Government’s 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 Banning’s 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 camp’s 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.

Historical Landmark

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, Keaveny’s 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 mansion’s 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 heritage.

Bibliography

Robinson, John W. Los Angeles in Civil War Days 1860-65, Los Angeles: Dawson’s Book Shop, 1977.

Hunt, Aurora. Army of the Pacific 1860-66, Glendale: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1951.

McDowell, Don. Drumbeats, Vols. I-V (Periodicals), Wilmington: Drum Barracks Civil War Museum, 1977-90.



History
by Colonel Herbert M. Hart, USMC (retired)
Executive Director, Council on America's Military Past
 
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 verdict.
 
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 mules."
 
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 sheath knife."
 
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 M. Hart)
 

 Drum Barracks, 1867
 
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)
Wilmington Depot
 

 Wilmington Depot, 1871
 
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
 
 

Updated 21 February 2009


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