The Civil War
young men of the East Bay's overwhelmingly Republican majority were
hungry to help save their Union. To accommodate the growing ranks of
Civil War volunteers, two equally Unionist settlers--Edson Adams and
William Kennedy--agreed to host boot camps on their large waterfront
On the Adams land along the north side of what is now Lake Merritt, a
group of 70 Oakland Volunteers did basic training as members of Company
A of the Fifth Army Infantry. Kennedy's farm, on the south shore of
Brooklyn Basin, became Camp Merchant to drill newly enlisted California
In the spring of 1862, the Oakland-trained troops of Company A--led by
lieutenant James Barrett--became the first Californians to see action in
the war. While keeping watch in Arizona over trade routes to Mexico, the
company met an ambush by Texas Guards. Barrett and two of his
privates--George Johnson and William S. Leonard--died on the skirmish.
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room
"Walk Along the Water"
© Oakland Museum of California, used with permission.
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