- Category: Museum Tour
The Model Room depicts a miniature copy of the camp, which was approximately 60 acres and contained a 16 acre parade ground for drilling the soldiers. The Drum Barracks was named in honor of Lt. Col. Richard Coulter Drum, acting Adjutant General of the Department of the Pacific, who provided assistance in establishing the facility.
The buildings were pre-fabricated in the eastern U.S. and shipped here around the Horn. It was believed there were not adequate building materials in the local area for a fort of this size. Building was begun in 1862 and completed in September 1863 for about $1 million. Each of the barracks held a company of soldiers (100 men). The camp was originally built for 500 soldiers and accompanying officers and horses.
Around the central parade grounds were the hospital, enlisted men’s barracks, and laundress’s quarters. The laundresses at the camp were often widows with small children who did the laundry for the soldiers. The camp had two stables, usually filled to its capacity of 300 horses.
Camp Drum and the Quartermaster’s Depot were supplying 126 other forts, camps and communities with men, supplies and horses. Over 8,000 men passed through the Drum Barracks on their way to camps as far away as Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah (which then comprised the Arizona Territory).
The museum is one of only two remaining buildings, the other being the powder magazine, located at the corner of Opp and Eubank streets. This is where the black powder and ammunitions were stored. The walls are three feet thick. The arched roof is brick in a barrel vault style. In theory, if the black powder inside exploded, it would go up and not out, thereby causing less damage and injury.
Drum Barracks Facility History
- Troops were fighting Geronimo in Indian Wars in Arizona Territory. (1865-71)
- The camp was closed but the hospital remained in operation for two more years; it was considered the best Army hospital west of the Mississippi. (1871-73)
- The hospital closed, and Banning went to Washington, D.C. and had a bill passed so that the land reverted back to himself and B.D. Wilson. The buildings were publicly auctioned off for a total of $6, 357, but the buildings purchased by anyone other than Banning and Wilson had to be moved! Banning, however, bought most of the buildings, including the Junior Officers’ Quarters. Wilson bought the hospital and the commanding officers’ quarters, donating them to Wilson College.
- Rev. Robert Boag, a Presbyterian minister, purchased the Drum Barracks, living there with his family and sharing the building with the Bailey family. Their five-acre site was sold in September 1876 to Emery Thayer for $5,000. (1875-76)
- The building housing the museum was used for Wilmington Township High School from 1890 to 1910.