The Civil War in Missouri

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Major General Frémont, USA, and Staff Inaugurating Camp Benton, at St. Louis, Missouri, before Starting for Lexington

MHM Photographs and Prints

Frémont oversaw the construction of Benton Barracks, a facility about 4-1/2 miles north of St. Louis City that held 30,000 Federal troops from select regiments in nine states. One Michigan cavalryman stationed there described it as a “spacious camp” with two rows of barracks a mile long each and two more barracks one-third of a mile long. There were two parade grounds—one a mile by one-third of a mile and another 70 acres square. All of the buildings—soldiers’ and officers’ quarters, warehouses, and stables—were whitewashed to give them a clean appearance. Built on land formerly occupied by the State Fairgrounds the camp utilized an existing amphitheater by converting it into a hospital that could accommodate 2,500 patients. A contraband camp held thousands of refugee slaves and freedmen.