Camp Casey Conference Center is not only surrounded by the natural beauty of beaches, forests, bluffs, prairies and wet lands, but also hosts structures of historic significance. One of the historic structures are the coastal fortifications. This is the 2nd in a series of blog posts about the naming of the Camp Casey coastal fortifications and is dedicated to those that have served our country. We honor and thank all who served in the United States Armed Forces.
Naming forts, camps or any installation was the responsibility of the War Department and the unofficial policy during this time was that they should only be named after military heroes. Only one battery – Battery Parker – is located on Camp Casey. All others are within the state park grounds. Battery Parker was named for 1st Lt Thomas Parker of the 2nd US Infantry. He took part in the Civil War campaign and was killed while leading a charge at the battle of Gaines Mill, VA.
To the left of Battery Parker, taking center stage as you walk towards the water from the main entrance of Ft. Casey is Battery Moore. Named after Brig General James Moore , Continental Army . His most notable victory during the Revolutionary War occurred in 1776 when he defeated and captured a large force of Scotch Royalists at Moore’s Crossing. He died in Apr 1777.
Battery Worth: Named for Brig. General William S. Worth , who served with distinction during the U.S. Civil War and the Spanish-American War , and was wounded during the attack on San Juan Hill. He was later appointed as Brig General of Volunteers. He died in October 1904.
The last of the batteries in the Fort is Battery Van Horne. Named for Capt. Isaac Van Horne of the 19th US Infantry. He participated bravely in numerous expeditions in the War of 1812 and was killed in action during an attack against Fort Mackinac in 1814.
Beginning in late 1917, work began to remove the guns so that they could be used aboard ships and in field artillery, and in some cases, went for metal salvage. Ft. Casey began its first decline. By 1927 only 4 officers and 45 enlisted men remained assigned to the Fort.
By 1940 however, with the passage of the Selective Service Act, a building program began that resulted in the construction of 9 barracks, 3 mess halls, 2 company storehouses, a post exchange, a theatre, an infirmary, new officer’s quarters and an NCO club. By June of ’41, the troop population was now at 400. This short-lived boom however, came to a close by 1950 when the Fort was once again moved to a caretaker status.
Many veterans returned back to Whidbey Island over the years. Local residents and service clubs members, specifically the Coupeville Lions Club, lobbied to secure the reservation as a park. Seattle Pacific College (now SPU) purchased the land containing all the barracks, mess halls, officers’ quarters and the entire parade ground. By 1962, Fort Casey was officially dedicated as a historic site … and local, state and military efforts came together to return and restore the Fort, Lighthouse and gun batteries.