After General Winfield Scotts proposal for a joint occupation of San Juan Island, the Royal Navy started looking for a home for its Royal Marine Detachment(in those days it was Royal Marine Light Infantry, RMLI).
Two years earlier Captain James Prevost RN, Commander of HMS Satellite, had remembered a bay, Garrison Bay from the explorations as a part of the water boundary commission survey of the island. Lt Richard Roche, one of his officers at the time, had commented on how the ground was well sheltered with a good supply of water and grass and is capable of affording maneuvering ground for any number of men that might be required in the locality.
The Royal Marines landed on March 21st 1860. They brought along the necessary materials to erect the first building, a commissionary (which still stands).

The English camp as it became known was commanded by Captain George Bazalgette RMLI, who when they arrived placed an requisition for "84 tin pannikins, 36 tin plates, 3 'dishes', 10 camp kettles, 18 lanterns, 1 measures set and a small quantity of stationary.


The command consisted of:-
2 Subalterns
1 Assistant Surgeon
83 Other Ranks


After clearing the shore of its thick growth of trees, they erected the commissionary and planted a small garden. Barracks, Cooking houses and other vital structures were all erected, especially after the visit in June of Rear Admiral Robert Lambert-Baynes, who declared extra pay for the men to prepare the camp for winter.
The Marines finally departed the island in November 1872, following the final boundary decision of Kaiser Wilhelm 1 of Germany. The camp they built was so solidly built that the Crook family who purchased it from the US Government occupied several of the buildings for 30 years

Smart bunch of Lad's S'gt Major

With the arrival of a new commander, Captain William Delacombe, in 1867, the camp received a major facelift.  New officers’ quarters were built to house the captain and his family as well as the camp’s second in command. Delacombe also directed that a formal garden be constructed at the base of the hill leading to the officers

The following is a copy of the orders to Captain Bazalgette RMLI from Rear Admiral Lambert-Baynes

Royal Marines, Commanding the Detachment
Landed on the Island of San Juan:

The object of placing you there is for the protection of British interests, and to form a joint military occupation with the troops of the United States. As the sovereignty of the island is still in dispute between the two Governments, you will on no account whatever interfere with the citizens of the United States, but should any offense be committed by such citizens which you may think it advisable to notice you will send a report of it immediately to Captain Hunt, or officer commanding the U.S. troops. American citizens have equal rights with British subjects on the island. Should the officer commanding the U.S. troops bring to your notice offenses committed by any of Her Majesty's subjects you will use your best judgment in dealing with the case, and I authorize you, if you deem it necessary, to send them off the island by the first opportunity. If any doubts arise as to the nationality of an offender you will not [decide] in the case before you have consulted with the U.S. commanding officer, and not even then unless your opinions coincide. You will place yourself in frank and free communication with the commanding officer of the U.S. troops, bearing in mind how essential it is for the public service that the most perfect and cordial understanding should exist between you, which I have every reason to feel assured you will at all times find Captain Hunt ready and anxious to maintain.

Rear-Admiral and Commander-in-Chief

On April 16 1863, Captain Lyman Bissell of the 9th Infantry at Camp Pickett, sent a letter to Major R.C. Drum Asst Adjutant-General in San Francisco,
It referenced to a meeting with residents of San Juan Island forming a committee to regulate their land claims until sovereignty of the island could be established.
He recognised the name of some of them namely:-
Higgins - the postmaster, who made his living from selling liquor to soldiers and indians and Offutt, secretary to the meeting, who also made a living selling whiskey. Higgins claimed that he only sold it to his men and they in turn sold it to the indians.
In the Autumn of 1862 Hibbard , another of the residents at the meeting, tried to stir up trouble between the British and American forces on the island by writing a dictorial letter to Captain Bazalgette RM, because Bazalgette had ordered two of his men out of his camp that were there for the purpose of selling whiskey to his men.
On August 15th 1862 Bazalgette made an official complaint against a man called Andrews who had a claim about one mile from the English Camp. The Indians reported to him that Andrews had disposed of a large amount of whiskey to them the evening before and that one of their number had been murdered.
Captain Bissell and Lieutenant Cooper RM together with a NCO went to the Indian camp and found this to be true. The chief had three men who could identify "Bill" as Andrews was known to them and sent them with Bissell. They found him in a lime kiln with Hibbard. The Indians recognised Andrews straight away as the man who sold them the whiskey. Bissell knowing that to get a conviction against Andrews, ordered him to leave the island, he also notified the criminal element that they also had 24 hours to leave the island, on the expiration of the time they would be placed in charge of the guard.

Prior to Captain Bazalgette and his marines landing there was the incident that started the whole thing off.