Benicia Barracks (1849-1898) - Established as the Post near Benicia in 1849 during the California Gold Rush by Captain (Bvt. Lt. Colonel) Silas Casey, 2nd U.S. Infantry and named after the nearby town of Benicia. Renamed Benicia Barracks in 1852 by General Order #6, Division of the Pacific.
Benicia Barracks occupied 99.5 acres in the northwest corner of the Benicia Military Reservation. The post was established as the Post near Benicia on 30 Apr 1849 by Captain (Bvt. Lt. Colonel) Silas Casey and two companies of the 2nd U.S. Infantry, a total of 4 officers and 128 men.
The post was the U.S. Army headquarters for the Department of the Pacific from 1851-1857 and was the embarkation point for most troops stationed at Pacific Coast forts up to the U.S. Civil War.
During the U.S. Civil War regular U.S. Army troops on the west coast were recalled to the east coast to be at the seat of the war. Benicia Barracks was garrisoned by a series of California Volunteer Units who were called upon to garrison the U.S Army posts throughout the west.
By 1863 Benicia Barracks had evolved into an open plan post with a roughly square parade and a line of eight barracks on the west side. Three sets of married officer's quarters lined the east side of the parade with the bachelor officers quarters on the north side. The working buildings lined the south side including the commissary storehouse, the guardhouse, the adjutant's office and the laundress quarters. Further south was the hospital and the stable.
At the end of the U.S. Civil War the California Volunteer troops were mustered out and the post was not garrisoned from 18 Dec 1865 to 17 Nov 1866 when elements of the 1st U.S. Cavalry commanded by Bvt. Lt. Colonel Edwin V. Sumner arrived.
Only the hospital building remains of the original Benicia Barracks and it is now an office building. The old barracks and arsenal are both registered State historical landmarks. In 1965, or 2 years after the Army inactivated the arsenal, it conveyed the installation to the city of Benicia. The city has leased it to a corporation, which has modified some of the buildings. All of them are open to exterior inspection, but may not be entered except by permission. To facilitate a walking tour, the corporation has published a brochure on the history of the buildings. The barracks and arsenal sites are situated about one-quarter mile apart. Extant on 252 acres of the 2,200 acres that comprised the military reservation are 21 one- and two-story structures, four of frame and 17 of brick and sandstone, that were constructed between 1854 and 1884. One of these, the hospital, believed to be the first military hospital on the Pacific coast, in which Indian war casualties were treated, is at the barracks; and the remainder at the arsenal. Three other buildings date from 1900, 1909, and 1911. -- nps -- U.S. National Register of Historic Places #76000534 California Landmark #177
Visited: 16 Nov 2013, 25 Aug 2009