SJ Mercury News details Emeryville’s role in winning the Civil War

Published On August 29, 2011 | By Rob Arias | History & Archive, News & Commentary

Who knew Emeryville was a focal point of the civil war on the West Coast? This article references Camp Downey, an Infantry training camp located on a tract now occupied by Emeryville City Hall and Pixar Studios.

How the Bay Area helped the Union win the Civil War

Most of the Bay Area infantry men drilled at Camp Downey on a tract now occupied by Emeryville City Hall and Pixar Studios, according to Evanosky.

“There weren’t any battles in California, but that’s because California soldiers who trained right here in Camp Downey went out east to battle Confederates in Arizona,” he said. “The Confederacy didn’t have the wherewithal to continue moving west. But what if these (Bay Area) guys had just said, ‘What was the point?’ The Confederacy would definitely have come to Los Angeles.”

He said the cavalry trained alongside the Oakland estuary at Camp Merchant, on a farm near where today’s Interstate 880 passes 17th Avenue. Newspapers remarked that the sun and climate made the East Bay a more healthful place to train than San Francisco’s foggy Presidio.

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About The Author

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who lived in Emeryville from 2003 to 2021. Rob founded The E'ville Eye in 2011 after being robbed at gunpoint and lamenting the lack of local news coverage. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

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