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"Dromedaries At The Civil War?! The Forgotten Story" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2020 10:35 p.m. PST

…Of The U.S. Camel Corps.

"It may be hard to believe, but there were camels present on the frontier and they played a part in the Civil War. It's not very well known, but the program that utilized these desert-dwelling animals continued for a decade, with training and endurance tests designed to explore the usefulness of camels in the wilds of the unsettled West. Between 1856 and 1866 camels were being used in training and hauling, with the primary action taking place at Camp Verde in Texas.

When Lt. George Crossman and E.H. Miller had the idea to use camels for traversing the rough terrain of the new frontiers of America in 1836, they wrote a proposal to the War Department and were swiftly rejected. It was only when word of this idea spread to Senator Jefferson Davis that he was able to, after a time, convince Congress and the President that camels just might be the answer. In 1855 that his requests were finally approved, including $30,000 USD for the importation of said camels.

In 1857 there were a total of 70 camels of various breeds at Camp Verde. They were obtained over the course of two acquisition trips abroad. In side-by-side comparisons of the camels' hauling capacity and endurance as compared to oxen or mules, the camels proved they could haul heavy loads quicker. In a report to Congress in 1858 the camels received glowing praise by Edward Beale, a contractor for the U.S. government who had been ordered to use the camels as part of his duties. Beale argued that not only were they better at surviving the conditions of the Southwest, they were a cheaper method of transporting supplies. He even went so far as to use the words "noble" and "docile" to describe them…"
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jurgenation Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2020 2:02 a.m. PST

Yep Jeff Davis;s pet project.they proved their worth ,but army was prejudiced against it..

Personal logo FingerandToeGlenn Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Sep 2020 9:30 a.m. PST

Local story for me as I live not too far from Fort Tejon, a station for the Camel Corps. They've got a nice display on it.

Personal logo John the Greater Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2020 9:34 a.m. PST

Someone my know about this – Once the experiment was ended didn't the Army just release the camels into the wild?

Personal logo PaulCollins Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2020 11:07 a.m. PST

I believe that Arizona has an old law on the books making it illegal to hunt camels.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2020 11:57 a.m. PST



Wackmole9 Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2020 12:09 p.m. PST

and don't forget the famous Ghost camel story


Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2020 3:40 p.m. PST

Thanks also!… (smile)


Ryan T13 Sep 2020 8:23 p.m. PST

The 43rd Mississippi Infantry had an ex-US Army camel called Old Douglas. Old Douglas was killed at Vickburg by a Union sharpshooter. His marked grave is in the Cedar Hill Cemetary in Vicksburg. link

Dn Jackson14 Sep 2020 1:05 a.m. PST

My understanding is that they were released. There were stories for years about people sighting them wandering around and being caught off guard by the sighting. I didn't know about Douglas. Neat story, thanks.

SpuriousMilius14 Sep 2020 11:14 a.m. PST

Thru the 1950's, '60's & '70's my family usually took a 2 week summer vacation driving several hundred miles through other states & I got to visit Civil War battlefields, the Grand Canyon, the Meteor Crater, Washington DC, Las Vegas, New Orleans, etc. On 1 trip west I saw a wild camel in the desert a mile or so away from the highway. Being a history addict, I knew about the camel experiment in the SW desert & I believe the critter was real.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse15 Sep 2020 8:41 p.m. PST

I had a GASLIGHT unit, the 3rd Minnesota Dromedary Dragoon Lancers.
They were so terrifying, they attracted fire as if they were magnetic, and lead was…
They never lasted more than 3 turns.
1. Camel
2. Union lancers

Ryan T17 Sep 2020 6:07 p.m. PST

John, I trust you used two-humped Bactrian Camaels instead of the Arabian ones. You want a camel that can tramp through the blizzards of Minnesota and not risk freezing to death.

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