The Civil War

Kennedy Farm in OaklandThe 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 homesteads.

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 Guardsmen.

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.

Steven Lavoie
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room

Oakland Museum of California Logo  "Walk Along the Water"
  Oakland Museum of California, used with permission.

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