The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Our Lake Defences
Wyoming County Mirror (Warsaw, NY), December 18, 1861, page 2

Full Text
Vol. XIV No. 42

Friend Dudley: -As our present war has inspired with new life the old military station in this place, known as "Madison Barracks,": a brief description of the place may not be uninteresting to your readers.

The Barracks are situated about a third of a mile from the village of Sackets' Harbor, on a plateau upon the South bank of Black River Bay; -and about twenty-five feet above the level of the bay. The grounds, lying between the bay and Brownville Avenue, contain some twenty acres.

In the center of this enclosure, are located the officers, and soldiers' quarters -consisting of three long Blocks of stone buildings a story and a half high, together forming three sides of a hollow square. This area, beautifully graded, contains about four or five acres and is used as a parade ground -from which the slope or terrace to the water's edge -six rods distant, is easy.

The Officers' Block, directly fronting the bay and about forty rods from it, is about 440 feet in length. The interior arrangements are adapted for families and are finished up in style equal to the average of good farm houses. The chambers being attics, are lighted by windows projecting from the roof and are used for lodging rooms. The building is sufficient depth of two tiers of rooms in each story.

From the extremes of this Block and at aright angles from it are extended towards the bay, the soldiers; quarters, each about 460 feet in length and fronting the parade ground. These are arranged so as to be occupied by the several companies separately. Each company, ten in all, now here, occupies a large dining hall with office, kitchen, storeroom and closets adjacent. The board for the soldiers is furnished by one of our citizens, who has placed in each kitchen two cook stoves and a male cook to each stove.

The attic, which covers the entire area over these several rooms, is used for the sleeping apartment of the company accommodated below. Each company therefore compose a separate family. The price of board as by contract with government is for each soldier thirty cents per day, and is of the most substantial kind and "well got up." The fare is said to be superior, and the whole arrangement satisfactory to all parties. Several large airy rooms have been fitted up for hospital use. Each of the blocks has a piazza on the side fronting the parade ground.

Upon the open side of the square and some three or four rods from the water's edge is a large commissary building, also of stone, two stories high above the basement, and 150 in length, tin roofed. Near this is also a stone building fitted up at present for bathing, both warm and cold. A few rods distant is the hospital - a stately edifice of three stories, with two wings of one story and a half each. This structure was built at an expense of $30,000 or more; and is of elegant finish with magnificent parlors, bath rooms, and arrangements suited to the purpose for which erected. This building is sadly out of repair and would cost a $1,000 to place it in a proper condition for use.

Besides the buildings mentioned there is of course a guard house, stone walled and tin-roofed, containing several cells in which some of the refractory "boys" have already found temporary lodgings. There are also several other buildings for armaments, both artillery and infantry, magazine, &c.;, &c.; Upon a bluff at one corner of the grounds, and about 25 feet above the water, is a substantial breastwork of earth, behind which lie, unmounted, about thirty cannon of various sizes, with piles of "shot and shell."

The bay at this place is a mile and a third in breath, but soon expands to the breadth of some ten miles as it approaches lake Ontario, which is abut twelve miles distant from this place.

In the direction towards the lake the view from the Barracks is beautiful, the entire distance being variegated by points of land and islands of different dimension, leaving two passages of three to six miles each, in breadth, through which the eye rests upon the broad expanse, beyond which no shore is seen. Our government might have saved thousands of dollars expense had it at an earlier day made this a recruiting depot instead of Elmira. The expense of fitting it up has been comparatively trifling, and trains of cars leave twice a day for Rome, seventy-five miles distant. The number at present enrolled in this regiment is something over six hundred; though not all yet mustered into the U.S. Service.

Here are at present several on the sick list and in the hospital, who are suffering from a fever which has for a few days past prevailed in the country adjacent.

This place and vicinity is one of the healthiest locations in the State of New York; being almost wholly free form those fatal epidemics which so often prevail in different sections of the country The attending physician at the Barracks, who is also a resident physician of the place, considers the number of soldiers sick as in no greater proportion to the whole number than of persons in the country. One case in the Barracks has proved fatal -as have several among the inhabitants in the country about here.

Most of those sick however acknowledge themselves to have been careless in exposures to taking cold.

There is a chapel fitted up, at which two of the resident clergymen preach alternately once a week. It is the opinion of some that these Barracks will not again return into disuse very soon; but time will disclose.

Yours, Y.

Media Type:
Item Type:
Column 7
Date of Original:
December 18, 1861
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 43.94923 Longitude: -76.12076
Richard Palmer
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
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Our Lake Defences