National Parks/Historic Sites











Yosemite Museum, Yosemite National ParkMt. Starr King is a peak in Yosemite, and the museum has information about the origins of the park in 1864.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which includes:

  1. Alcatraz Island, used to house Confederate sympathizers during the Civil War, as well as being the site of fortifications
  2. Fort Mason, once the site of Black Point, the home of John C. and Jessie Benton Fremont at the beginning of the Civil War.  The wounded Senator David Broderick (shot in a duel in September 1859 by a pro-slavery state supreme court justice who had resigned his office the day before) was carried to Fort Mason afterwards, where he lingered for three day before dying.
  3. Fort Point National Historic Site, heavily fortified to protect San Francisco Bay during the war.
  4. The San Francisco National Cemetery, a part of the Presidio and the place where Col. Edward Baker, friend of Lincoln, California political figure, and Republican senator from Oregon is buried. Baker took a leave of absence from the U.S. Senate to fight and was killed in the Battle of Ball’s Bluff in October 1861

Los Angeles National Cemetery, first created in 1889 to help Union veterans, it is now the place where some 11,000 have their final rest.

California State Parks and Institutions

Ft. Tejon State Historic Park—troops marched from here to Los Angeles after Sumter to protect the city from possible secessionist uprisings.  This was a station on the Butterfield Overland Stage Route.

Sonoma State Historic Park, estate of Mariano Vallejo—Vallejo’s son Platon was a Union doctor during the war, and Mariano himself, perhaps the most prominent Californio, met with Lincoln.

Weaverville Joss House State Historic Park in Trinity County—documents the early history of Chinese immigrants.  During the war, Chinese merchants donated to the Sanitary Commission, ancestor of the Red Cross.

Pio Pico State Historic Park in Whittier—The last Mexican governor of California, Pio Pico was one of the wealthiest men in the state during the Civil War era.  His brother Andres held office during this period.

Los Angeles State Historic Park— Don Benito Wilson’s orchards were in this vicinity.  Wilson, a Confederate sympathizer, was also the business partner of Phineas Banning, a key Unionist, and together they donated the land for Drum Barracks.

California State Capitol Museum/Civil War Memorial Grove, now the home of the statue of Thomas Starr King that had been in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol.

Angel Island State Park—fortified during the war.

California State Military Museum in Sacramento

Col. Allensworth State Historic Park in Earlimart, near Bakersfield—commemorates not only a town established by the colonel for African Americans, but also the Civil War service of this remarkable man.

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park—this was a thriving small community during the 1860s and was a station on the Butterfield Overland Stage Route.

Portsmouth Square in San Francisco’s Chinatown.  This is where Lincoln’s friend Col. Edward Baker delivered the funeral oration for the slain David Broderick in 1859, among other noteworthy events to take place in the square.

Fort Humboldt State Historic Park—this fort was established in 1853 and was in use during the war.  Men stationed here were charged with “controlling the local Indian population”.

Anza Borrego Desert State Park—the park includes land on which more than one of the stage stations of the historic Butterfield Overland Route (1857-1861) was located.  Archaeological digs are ongoing to unearth remnants of the buildings.  Some stations of the route are privately owned.  The best way to start an exploration is to go to the Anza Borrego Desert State Park website, click on Carrizo Creek Station, and then click on Stagecoach History.
One can also Google Overland Mail 150th Anniversary for a wealth of information.

County/City Parks and Institutions
















Drum Barracks in Wilmington—a surviving Civil War barracks houses a museum devoted to the war in California.

The Banning Museum in Wilmington—Phineas Banning was the father of Los Angeles Harbor as well as being a key Unionist in pro-South southern California.  He and Don Benito Wilson donated the land for Drum Barracks.

Mary Ellen Pleasant Memorial Park in San Francisco—Mary Ellen Pleasant, an African American woman,  was a civil rights activist in San Francisco during the late 1850s and during the war years.

Benicia Historical Museum (illuminates the history of the Benicia Arsenal, a crucial federal facility during the 1850s and 1860s)

Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum (illuminates the history of Mare Island, the first naval facility on the Pacific Coast)

Rancho Guajome Adobe in Vista in northern San Diego County—a property associated with many families prominent in Mexican California.  During the war it was the home of the Confederate sympathizer Cave Johnson Couts.

El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument—located in the oldest part of Los Angeles, the heart of the city during the 1860s.

Andres Pico Adobe in Mission Hills in the San Fernando Valley—Andres Pico, while in the California legislature in the late 1850s, carried the legislation that would have split the state in two.

Broderick-Terry Duel Site—now a park in Daly City in San Mateo County.  Two stone obelisks mark the spots where the two dueling men were standing.

El Monte Historical Museum—displays information about the city’s strongly Confederate sympathies during the war.

California  Historical Landmarks











Amador County—Volcano  and “Old Abe”—there was a face-off between Unionists and copperheads during the war, though the cannon “Old Abe” was never fired.  The town still possesses a bell given to it by Thomas Starr King to reward it for its Unionism.  The bell rings in the new year annually.

Privately owned sites

Catalina Island Barracks—surviving building from the Civil War era–managed by Isthmus Yacht Club

First Unitarian Society of San FranciscoThomas Starr King is buried in a sarcophagus on the church grounds

Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland—designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and the final resting place of many Civil War veterans, as well as of William Gwin, the pro-South U.S. senator from California.

Oak Grove Butterfield Stage Station—on privately held land, this San Diego County locale is an extremely important site.  An adobe building still survives.  Moreover, Camp Wright, established to prevent Confederate sympathizers from traveling east to join the Confederate Army, was nearby.  One of the few skirmishes to take place in California occurred in this vicinity when Union soldiers intercepted the secession party of Dan Showalter.

Mare Island Museum—operated by the Mare Island Historic Park Foundation.  Mare Island was the West’s first naval facility; the museum illuminates the Civil War naval history on the Pacific Coast.