Pentagon Barracks

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Pentagon Barracks
Pentagon Barracks (Baton Rouge).jpg
Pentagon Barracks is located in Baton Rouge Downtown
Pentagon Barracks
Location Corner of State Capitol Drive and River Road,
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Coordinates 30°27′20″N 91°11′22″W / 30.45552°N 91.18933°W / 30.45552; -91.18933Coordinates: 30°27′20″N 91°11′22″W / 30.45552°N 91.18933°W / 30.45552; -91.18933
Area 5.75 acres (2.33 ha)
Built 1819-1825
Built by John Hill; Capt. Thomas S. Rodgers; Capt. R. D. Richardson
Architect Capt. James Gadsden
NRHP reference # 73000863[1]
Added to NRHP July 26, 1973

The Pentagon Barracks, also known as the Old United States Barracks, is a complex of buildings located at the corner of State Capitol Drive and River Road in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in the grounds of the state capitol. The site was used by the Spanish, French, British, Confederate States Army, and United States Army and was part of the short-lived Republic of West Florida.[2] During its use as a military post the site has been visited by such notable figures as Zachary Taylor,[3] Lafayette, Robert E. Lee, George Custer, Jefferson Davis, and Abraham Lincoln.

French, British and Spanish fort[edit]

Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville visited the area circa 1700. France retained the Baton Rouge site until the British took control in 1763.[4]

In 1779, during the American Revolutionary War, the British erected a dirt Fort New Richmond on the banks of the Mississippi River. Bernardo de Gálvez, colonial governor of Louisiana (New Spain), arrived on 20 September 1779 and found three hundred British troops garrisoning Fort New Richmond. In the Battle of Baton Rouge (1779), engineers under Spanish Governor Gálvez quickly constructed a siege line, enabling the Spanish troops to shell Fort Richmond; the British surrendered the next day. The Spanish garrisoned the fortification and renamed it Fort San Carlos.[4]

Republic of West Florida[edit]

American and remaining British settlers in Louisiana resisted Spanish control and rebelled in 1810 to establish the Republic of West Florida. They flew their Bonnie Blue Flag over Fort San Carlos throughout the republic's short three-month life. The Republic surrendered the city of Baton Rouge to United States authorities on December 10, 1810.

U. S. military post at Baton Rouge[edit]

American forces renamed the fort Post at Baton Rouge. The Post at Baton Rouge served as the assembly point for American troops going to the Creek War in 1813-14 and to the Battle of New Orleans in 1814-15. The Army built the Baton Rouge Barracks just north of the Post at Baton Rouge and in 1819 demolished the former Fort San Carlos.

United States Army Captain James Gadsden designed the Baton Rouge Barracks and took charge of their construction from 1819 to 1825. The soldiers completed four two-story brick buildings, forming four sides of a regular pentagon, by 1825, hence the nickname "Pentagon Barracks." They also built a commissary-warehouse building, forming the fifth side of the pentagon, in 1821, but tore down this defective building within a few months due to faulty construction.[5] The Pentagon Barracks could house one thousand troops.

The Army in 1825 established a large adjacent Baton Rouge Arsenal and Ordnance Depot to serve the then-Southwestern United States.

American Civil War[edit]

The United States Army occupied the Baton Rouge Barracks and Arsenal until January 1861, when the State of Louisiana seized the post and turned the operation of the arsenal over to the Confederate States of America. The Confederacy held Baton Rouge until its evacuation during the capture of New Orleans in April 1862. Union troops took back and reoccupied the Baton Rouge complex in May 1862.

The Confederates attempted unsuccessfully to retake Baton Rouge in the Battle of Baton Rouge (1862). Union authorities renamed the Barracks and Arsenal as Fort Williams after Union General Thomas Williams, who was killed in the battle. Union soldiers built earthworks to protect the complex, incorporating an old Indian mound into the defenses.

Louisiana State University[edit]

In 1884, the General Assembly of Louisiana passed a resolution allocating the full usage of the buildings and grounds of the Pentagon Barracks to Louisiana State University. The University gained full possession of the grounds in 1886 and the buildings were used as dormitories for the students. The grounds were used by LSU until the university moved to its current location in 1926.

The Pentagon Barracks (left) in 1909 in a panorama of what was then the campus of Louisiana State University
The Pentagon Barracks (left) in 1909 in a panorama of what was then the campus of Louisiana State University

Modern use[edit]

In 1951, ownership of the Barracks was transferred to the State of Louisiana and on July 26, 1973, the buildings were placed on the National Register of Historic Places.[4][1][6][7] The Pentagon Barracks still houses the offices of the lieutenant governor and private apartments for state legislators.[8]

See also[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from the National Park Service document "[1]".

  1. ^ a b National Park Service (2013-11-02). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ "Pentagon Barracks". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-08-12. 
  3. ^ Baldwin, Jack and Winnie (1999). Baldwin's Guide to Museums of Louisiana. Pelican Publishing Companay. p. 51. Retrieved 1 June 2018. 
  4. ^ a b c "Pentagon Barracks". Louisiana Capitol History and Tour. Retrieved 2008-08-12. 
  5. ^ accessed 01 June 2018.
  6. ^ "Pentagon Barracks" (PDF). State of Louisiana's Division of Historic Preservation. Retrieved May 14, 2018.  with three photos and a map
  7. ^ Ruth S. LeCompte (April 1973). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination Form: Pentagon Barracks". National Park Service. Retrieved May 14, 2018.  With eleven photos from 1972.
  8. ^ Baldwin, Jack and Winnie (1999). Baldwin's Guide to Museums of Louisiana. Pelican Publishing Companay. p. 50. Retrieved 22 April 2015. 

External links[edit]