Benton Barracks


This is a post not on writing, or self-publishing, but on history I’ve dug up during research for my books.

Benton Barracks appears in my current WIP Retreat. These barracks were constructed out of boards at the beginning of the war in St. Louis, Mo.

As you can kind of see from the above drawing, Benton barracks was arranged in what one soldier said was a ” big oblong square”. Barely visible, on the side facing outward are cookhouses.

I believe that the center two-story building was the sort of “command center” of Benton Barracks.

The different quarters were all connected together, with frame partitions dividing up the different companies.

Unfortunately, none of this barracks currently remains.

One of the commanders of Benton Barracks was a general later to become famous or infamous, depending on your side, William T. Sherman.


William T. Sherman

There was a controversy about paroled prisoners that took place at Benton Barracks. At times in the Civil War, prisoners from one side would be released on the promise that they would not fight against their captors until they were exchanged. After the battle of Shiloh or Pittsburgh Landing, some Union parolees were encamped at Benton Barracks.

The controversy erupted when a superior officer commanded them to stand guard duty. The troops thought doing guard duty was a violation of their parole and refused. Many were then promptly put in the guard house.

Some of those soldiers were from Iowa, my home state, and they sent a letter to the governor of Iowa, Samuel Kirkwood.

Necessity compels us, the undersigned, this Sabbath evening to state to you that we have orders this evening from General Schofield to be fully armed and equipped so that we can relieve the Twenty-third Missouri, now on duty. Guards to be detailed this evening to report at guard mounting tomorrow morning at 8 o’clock, and there is not a man who has signed this paper but would prefer to return to their Southern prisons before perjury.

The commander here has given orders for us to stand guard. This every one of us will not do even to a man, believing it to be a violation of our oath. Already forty of us are in the guard-house and the rest are ready to go at a moment’s notice to be tried by a court-martial. 

Their objection were overruled by Major-General Henry Halleck. He said that guard duty, policing of the camp, and fatigue duty were for the soldier’s own good.

I just thought that these little tidbits were interesting, if you want to learn more about Benton Barracks visit this site. Thanks for reading!




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