The Pentagon Barracks of East Baton Rouge Parish has been
won and lost by the Spanish, French, and the British, and
even has the distinction of being the site of the birth of
a nation - the short-lived Republic of West Florida. During
it's use as a military post, many famous men and public figures
served or visited, including Lafayette, Robert E. Lee, George
Custer, Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln.
The British erected
a dirt fort on the site of the barracks in 1779, which was
soon captured by the Spanish Governor of Louisiana, Bernardo
Not wanting to be under the rule of Spain, the
citizens of the West Florida Territory revolted and in September
of 1810 raised the flag over the fort declaring their independence
and announcing the birth of the Republic of West Florida.
The citizens then turned the area over to the United States
on December 10, 1810.
The fort served as the assembly point for American troops
going to the Creek War in 1813-1814 and to the Battle of New
Orleans in 1814-15.
A major expansion of the post was made
in 1819-1823 when new barracks were built and a large Arsenal
Depot was established to serve the southwestern United States.
The four, two-story brick buildings were built in 1825 after
six years of planning.
Captain James Gadsden of the U.S. Army,
who prepared the schematics for the barracks, headed the construction.
Originally, there were five buildings, Gadsden having intended
for a group of buildings arranged in a pentagon-shaped configuration
to be erected for the boarding of enlisted soldiers.
Photo From: Louisiana Division of
Historic Preservation, and the National Register collection.
The fort remained an U.S. military post until 1861 when it
was seized and captured by the State of Louisiana, who turned
the operation of the arsenal over to the Confederacy. However,
in 1862 during the Battle of Baton Rouge, Federal troops reclaimed
the garrison and renamed it Fort Williams for the late commander
who died in the battle.
After the Civil War, 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.
Today the Pentagon Barracks houses the offices of the lieutenant
governor, the Pentagon Barracks Museum and Visitors Center,
and private apartments for state legislators.