Fort San Bernardino, California

Fort San Bernardino by William R. Hutton, 1852

Fort San Bernardino by William R. Hutton, 1852

Fort San Bernardino, California, also called the Mormon Stockade, and Mormon Camp was built when an Indian attack threatened the fledgling settlement of San Bernardino. In the center of their new one-mile square town, the Mormon leaders set aside eight acres to build the parallelogram-shaped stockade. It was 300 by 720 feet wide, with a 12-foot high stockade. Life in San Bernardino was soon centered at this enclosure, and weapons and ammunition were lent to the occupants by the Army garrison at Rancho del Chino. In 1857, more than 50% of the Mormons settled, and San Bernardino was called back to Salt Lake City, Utah, to face the threat of an invasion by the United States Army.

U.S. soldiers arrived in San Bernardino in December 1858, taking over the stockade and building more posts nearby, including Camp Prentiss and Camp Carleton, to fight the Mojave Indians. Troops stayed at San Bernardino until March 1862. They returned for five months in 1863 in response to reports that a leading secessionist recently released from prison was threatening to kill everyone responsible for his jailing. In October, the troops were recalled again. Soldiers again occupied the post in the summer of 1865 to check rumors of a secession plot, but this was short-lived. During the years of U.S. Army occupation, the fort was extended far beyond its original limits.

Mormon San Bernardino, California

Mormon San Bernardino, California

Today, there is nothing left of the old stockade, which was situated on the site now occupied by the courthouse located on Arrowhead Avenue between 3rd and 4th Streets in the center of downtown San Bernardino.

© Kathy Weiser-Alexander/Legends of America, updated November 2021.

Also See:

California Forts & Presidios

Forts Across America

Forts & Presidios Photo Gallery

War & Military in American History