Camels of the American Southwest / A Trip Into History

Why the army was curious about camels is a narrative in itself. Most historians attribute the camel concept, or at the very least the unique one, to George H. Crosman who served with the military in the Seminole Wars in Florida.

George Crosman

The Camel Concept?

Beginning in the 1830’s Crosman promoted the use of camels to the federal government however not with a lot success. The American frontier in the 1840’s ran principally on a line from Minnesota down by means of Missouri after which via Arkansas and east Texas.

The arid areas of the desert southwest have been outdoors the American area and have been explored and governed by Spain. When Spain was expelled in the 1820’s the region was dominated by Mexico. Because the U.S. frontier at that time was far from the desert southwest, the camel, which was related to the desert regions of the Middle East, was not on the authorities’s radar to exchange the horse or the mule. Nothing came of Crosman’s concept.

The Camel Experiments of Jefferson Davis

Jefferson Davis fought in the Mexican American Struggle. He was aware of the problems of army and civilian communication and journey in desert regions. When the conflict ended the U.S. army would wish to travel all through the arid southwest to not point out future railroad survey crews.

Two HistoricTrips to the Mediterranean

In 1855 Jefferson Davis sent the U.S.S. Provide on a voyage to the Mediterranean for the objective of bringing again camels to the U.S. The vessel made another journey to the Center East in 1856.for the similar function. The vacation spot of each boatloads of camels was the Texas coast.

jefferson davis army camel corp

Jefferson Davis who approved the U.S. Army Camel Corp

The united statesS. Provide was one of the most lively supply ships throughout this period and through the later Civil Conflict. It’s exploits to the Middle East throughout the 1850’s made United States Naval historical past. Jefferson Davis organized for the camels to be delivered to an area close to Victoria Texas and nearby Camp Verde and San Antonio. When the camels arrived the native populace was fairly excited and amused.

The camels additionally created a stir among the horses and mules who picked up the camels distinctive scent. Both the horses and mules turned agitated when the camels appeared. The state of affairs was such that teamsters needed to be advised prematurely when the camels have been transported inland from the coast so they might make sure their horse and mule teams have been out of the space.

Under are Three Fascinating Trip Stops Relating to the Army Camel Corp

Hello Jolly and Quartzite Arizona

There’s a number of unique sites you might need to add to your western trip planner that is part of this distinctive army camel experiment.

One of these unique sites is situated in Quartzsite Arizona, about 80 miles north of Yuma Crossing and 129 miles west of Phoenix Arizona on the north aspect of Interstate 10.

hi jolly grave site quartzite arizona

Hello Jolly grave website in Quartzite Arizona

At the moment Quartzsite could be very well-liked with winter RVer’s and there are lots of main gem and mineral exhibits scheduled during the months of January and February which usher in over one million guests.

Quartzsite can also be the remaining resting place of a man who was referred to as Hello Jolly, a man a lot involved with camels in Arizona. Hello Jolly was a reputation given to him by the army males he worked with. His actual identify was Hadji Ali and he was additionally later generally known as Philip Tedro. Born in the Ottoman Empire of Jordanian parentage Hadji Ali (pictured with Gertrude Serna under proper) was the first ever camel driver hired by the U.S. Military. His job was to drive camels by way of the American Southwest throughout the military’s experiment utilizing camels as beasts of burden.

hi jolly quartzite arizona

Hi Jolly Monument plaque

The story of Hi Jolly and his work with the U.S. Military throughout the mid 1800’s is an fascinating tale of experiments and American exploration into a brand new area…the arid desert southwest…this new land taken over by the People in consequence of the Mexican-American Conflict.

Camel Treks and Historic Reenactments and Reveals

The Texas Camel Corps guides camel treks by way of the Massive Bend area of Texas. Camel trekking is like backpacking, only with out having to carry anything. If you tire of driving, you’ll be able to walk.

Led by Texas Camel Corps proprietor Doug Baum, members should be capable of stroll 5-7 miles per day and provide their very own sleeping bag, water container, small duffel bag or backpack and alter of garments. Camels, all other tenting gear, and meals are offered. The situation is Gearhart Ranch, Scenic Fort Davis Loop, Fort Davis, Texas. For extra information about Texas Camel Corps events see website www.texascamelcorps.comThe Camel Stables at the Previous Benicia California Arsenal

The Camel Barns which have been inbuilt 1855 can nonetheless be seen at the previous Benicia Arsenal whose grounds now home the Benicia Historical Museum in Benicia California. Benicia is situated northeast of San Francisco alongside Suisun Bay. Benicia is a few 35 mile drive from San Francisco.

See the Trips Into History articles on the hyperlinks under…

The Southwest Expedition

The expedition in Texas was in-part carried out by a Major Henry C. Wayne who was quite acquainted with the southwest having served with Basic Kearny in California throughout the Mexican Struggle. Additionally recruited was Edward Fitzgerald Beale who was a former lieutenant in the Navy. Beale also really helpful the appointment of one of his kinfolk, Navy lieutenant David Dixon Porter, to hitch the group. Porter went together with the U.S.S. Supply in it’s two voyages to seek out camels and drovers in the Mideast.

trans pecos region texas

The Trans Pecos Region of Texas

After the finish of the Mexican-American Struggle, the Military was needed to supply additional surveys and construct further wagon roads. Edward Beale was of massive importance in this endeavor having ridden with Package Carson throughout the southwest during the struggle.

The camels have been delivered to San Antonio on June 21, 1857 to be loaded. Beale set out across the south Texas plains and desert on June 25th and arrived in El Paso on July 27th.  A stop was made at Fort Davis alongside the method. The journey passed via the harmful Camanche lands, known as Comancheria, but without incident. When the caravan passed close to to Mexico many of the locals came out to see these strange animals. On the trip up the Rio Grande to Albuquerque much the similar occurred when the group passed by way of villages.

Performance of the Camels

Durring his travels with the caravan Beale made a number of fascinating reviews about the camels. He reported that the camels might journey constantly in a rustic the place different barefooted beasts couldn’t final however every week. He additional famous that the animals might stay on something and thrive. Beale stated that on a particularly scorching day the animals didn’t take a drink of water for over twenty-six hours.

Westward Toward California

When the group reached Albuquerque, Beale rode up to Santa Fe to make his report back to the army authorities there. On August 13th the group headed out west to Ft Defiance the place they have been to satisfy a detachment beneath the command of a Colonel Loring.

From Fort Defiance the caravan adopted the 35th parallel where their actual work would begin. That was a survey for a wagon street westward to the Colorado River. The expedition was not truly the very first to traverse this area since they did have a map with them drawn up throughout a 1853 expedition to survey a railroad route. This route at the moment considerably follows Interstate 40 by way of the northern half of Arizona.

The caravan continued westward from the Zuni Pueblo and did encounter some Pueblo Indians and Apaches alongside the means however all conferences have been peaceful. Upon reaching the Colorado River, the crossing, while a bit troublesome because the camels could not swim, was not as onerous as predicted. The camels have been roped collectively in gangs of 5 and have been capable of cross.

fort tejon california

Previous Fort Tejon Barracks exhibit immediately

Shifting further westward they cut up up and a gaggle went to Los Angeles and another to Fort Tejon. The Mojave Desert crossing appeared to be uneventful since Beale only devoted a number of sentences to it in his journal.

Beale left the camels at Ft Tejon and started an extended journey eastward to Washington to make his formal report to Secretary of Warfare Floyd. Ultimately the camels in both California and Texas have been costing the authorities quite a bit of money however no one knew what to do subsequent with the camels and Congress began to cease funding..

The Experiment Ends

Secretary Floyd and others have been proponents of camel utilization all through the army, nevertheless the majority weren’t. A few army commanders in the west needed to do other experiments with the camels of a purely army nature. Might these sturdy beasts probably substitute many of the horses? They might subsist on virtually nothing so might this help the army in it’s consolidation of the southwest? After a lot debate and the begin of the American Civil Warfare the funding for the camels decreased and for all practical functions the use of camels by the government and by personal business came to an finish in the 1870’s.

Wild Camels Roam the Desert Southwest

In 1891, 9 camels roaming on the western edge of Dying Valley appeared before the eyes of two gold miners who thought they have been seeing ghosts.  This was many years after the camels have been delivered to North America. The miners, Shep Searcy and Charlie Fisher, have been mendacity down at the time, making an attempt to drink from a mud puddle, when Shep stated: “Do you see what I think I see?”  Fisher replied: “I don’t know what you see, Shep, but it looks like Barnum’s circus to me.”  Shortly after that, the camels snorted, and ran away.  When the miners reported their temporary encounter to residents of a nearby city, individuals thought they have been crazy. The camel experiment as lengthy forgotten.

benicia arsenal

Benicia Arsenal in 1878

In October 1891, camels triggered a cattle stampede outdoors Harrisburg, Arizona.  Males stood around, amazed, not understanding what to do, when Harry Wharton, one of the unique camel teamsters, approached to stroke one of the camels throughout the knees.  The camel readily knelt.  Harry then shot the animal lifeless.  Two Mexicans stripped the carcass and bought the meat to an unsuspecting butcher.

In the 1890s, passengers on Southern Pacific trains reported seeing camels pacing the sands of Arizona Territory.  In 1901, in western Arizona, a Southern Pacific practice ran over and killed one of the animals.

(Article copyright 2014 Trips Into History)