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Welcome to Drum Barracks

Welcome to Drum Barracks

Located in Wilmington, California, Drum Barracks Civil War Museum is housed in the last remaining original wooden building of the 22 structures built as a military post during the Civil War in the Los Angeles area. Drum Barracks, named after Lt. Col. Richard Coulter Drum, Adjutant General of the Department of the Pacific in San Francisco, served as the Union Army headquarters for Southern California and the Arizona Territory from 1861-1871. Please enjoy exploring our past and our present.

Closed for Special Event 2/24 and 2/28

Closed for Special Event 2/24 and 2/28

The museum will be closed the following days...

Saturday, February 24 and Wednesday, February 28





The third largest Civil War library in California!

The McDowell Library is available to researchers, requires an appointment, so researchers may be assisted in utilizing the wide variety of resources that comprise the collections. To inquire about using the library, please call the Museum at 310-548-7509.

The collection includes the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies and Navies, and the Supplement to the Official Records.

  • Welcome to Drum Barracks

    Welcome to Drum Barracks

  • Closed for Special Event 2/24 and 2/28

    Closed for Special Event 2/24 and 2/28

  • Library


Drum Barracks Highlights artifacts, exhibits & historical figures...

Gatling Gun

Dr. Richard Gatling, who designed and patented the gun in 1861...

1864 Steinway square grand piano

Square Piano

The Museum's square or box piano was built in 1869 by Steinway...

Dunbar autograph book

Dunbar Autograph Book

This autograph book, with signatures collected by Gilbert Edwin Dunbar, contains...

34-star flag

34-Star Flag

This 34-star flag was hand made during the Civil War and was found on the...


Did You Know... frequently asked questions

Due to special programming the museum will be closed:

Saturday, February 24 and Wednesday, February 28

Find Us:

1052 N. Banning Boulevard, Wilmington, CA 90744
(310) 548-7509
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Public Tour Schedule

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
10:00 am and 11:30 am

Saturday and Sunday
11:30 am and 1:00 pm

The Drum Barracks Civil War Museum is closed to the public Monday and Friday.

There are no self guided tours, the only way to view the museum is on a guided tour.
A $5 donation is requested per person, children under 12 are free.

Reservations are required for groups of six or more.  Appointments are required to use our research library.  Call 310.548.7509 for an appointment.  

Spencer Carbine

The greatest advance in weaponry of the time was the "repeater" – a gun that could be fired many times in succession before the magazine had to be replaced or replenished. Most rifles used in the day were single shot muzzleloaders.

Confederates who came up against Union outfits using repeaters often called it, "…that damned Yankee rifle they load up on Sunday and fire all week!"

The most famous repeater of the war was the Spencer.

The Spencer

The Spencer was the most widely used and sought after breechloader of the war. Its spring-fed tubular magazine held seven rounds; these could fire as fast as the user could work the lever and thumb back the hammer. Objections were made over the time it took to reload the magazine, but this problem was resolved by the use of quick-loading cartridge boxes holding ten tubes, or 70 rounds. The other objection, the weight, faded fast after the first use in battle proved its superior firepower.
The Civil War version usually used a .56 caliber bullet with a rimfire brass cartridge with not too long of a range; however, most battles were fought at under 400 yards and for this the rifle was ideal. The effective range on the rifle was supposedly 2,000 yards, but battle range was 300-500 yards. One other distinct advantage, its low recoil or kick, made it easier to fire.

The tests ran before it was issued were staggering – submerging it in saltwater for over 24 hours and then burying it in sand is one example. It worked perfectly without a jam or misfire. About 106,000 saw service, of which around 12,000 were rifles, and 94,000 were carbines that were mainly used for cavalry. The Spencer was a very efficient and mechanically reliable, one of the most outstanding shoulder arms in service during the war.

Spencers in Gettysburg

The Spencer played a pivotal role at the start of the Battle of Gettysburg! On June 30, 1863, Union Brigadier-General John Buford's 1st Division Cavalry Corps consisted of 2,500 dismounted horse soldiers. They positioned along McPherson's ridge, holding back a much larger force of muzzle loader-equipped men under the command of Confederate Major-General Henry Heth. Buford's much smaller force of repeater-firing cavalry held the advance long enough for the Union foot soldier reinforcements from I Corps under Major-General John Reynolds to arrive and help him hold the line, and thus enjoin the three-day epic engagement.

Square Piano

Square Piano

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California and the Civil War
California and the Civil War
Drum Barracks Events
Remembrance Day
Remembrance Day
Nov. 17, 2018 | 2 pm
A Civil War Christmas
A Civil War Christmas
Dec. 1-2, 2018 | 11 am - 4 pm
Civil War Book Club
Civil War Book Club
2nd Tuesday of the month

Drum Barracks logo Drum Barracks Civil War Museum
U.S. Army Headquarters for Southern California and Arizona Territory, 1862-1871
City of Los Angeles Historic Monument #21, 1963
State of California Historical Landmark #69, 1935
National Register of Historic Places, 1971