Camels Used During The Civil War!!!

chaloner

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Jul 10, 2013
Douglas The Camel, or “Old Douglas,” was a domesticated camel used by Company A of the Forty-third Mississippi Infantry, part of the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. Because of Old Douglas,the 43rd Mississippi Infantry came to be known as the Camel Regiment, Douglas was originally part of a U.S. War Department program called the Texas Camel Experiment, which aimed to experiment with camels as a possible alternative to horses and mules, which were dying of dehydration in vast numbers. Jefferson Davis, who had ascended to the position of United States Secretary of War in 1853, was a strong proponent of the program, and used his political influence to make the experiment happen. Although the details are unknown, Douglas somehow made his way to Mississippi, and eventually died, fittingly enough, at Davis's hometown of Vicksburg. He was initially given to Colonel W. H. Moore by 1st Lt. William Hargrove. Besides being a mascot, Moore assigned Douglas to the regimental band, carrying instruments and knapsacks.

Though the men tried to treat Old Douglas like a horse, the camel was known to break free of any tether, and was eventually allowed to graze freely. Despite not being tied up, he never wandered far from the men. The Infantry’s horses feared Old Douglas, and he is recorded to have spooked one horse into starting a stampede, which reportedly injured many, and possibly killed one or two horses. Old Douglas’s first active service was with Gen. Price in the Iuka campaign. He also participated in the 1862 Battle of Corinth. He remained with the regiment until the Siege of Vicksburg, where he was killed by Union sharpshooters. Enraged at his murder, the men swore to avenge him. Col. Bevier enlisted six of his best snipers, and successfully shot the culprit. Of Douglas’s murderer, Bevier reportedly said, “I refused to hear his name, and was rejoiced to learn that he had been severely wounded.” According to legend, after Douglas was shot, his remains were carved up and eaten, with some of his bones made into souvenirs by Federal soldiers.

Douglas is currently honored with his own grave marker in Vicksburg's Cedar Hill Cemetery, in Vicksburg, Mississippi. He, along with other camels used during the war, is not overlooked by historians, nor by Civil War Reenactors. There is currently a group called the Texas Camel Corps, whose mission is to promote the stories of camels, like Old Douglas, used during the Civil War.

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Drew

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Oct 22, 2012
OK, that "you learn something new everyday" is done. I've got to go to bed - thanks for posting this! :thumbsup:
 

Phiip McBride

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The camel experiment seems a fascinating one to me. From what I've read, the camels did great as pack animals . It was our muleskinners and soldiers who hated the big humped beasts and the Arabs who came with the camels to show the army how to care for them and so on. Apparently, the camels and their handlers were just too different and too ornery to be given time to overcome the initial difficulties.
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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We've had a couple of threads on "Old Douglas" and the Camel Corps here and there... a naval connection I like to bring up is that the naval officer who worked with Secretary of War Jefferson Davis on bringing the camels over for the project was Lieutenant David Dixon Porter, later the Union's second-ranking admiral.
 
D

Deleted member 8452

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camel civil war.jpg
 
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We've had a couple of threads on "Old Douglas" and the Camel Corps here and there... a naval connection I like to bring up is that the naval officer who worked with Secretary of War Jefferson Davis on bringing the camels over for the project was Lieutenant David Dixon Porter, later the Union's second-ranking admiral.
Wow. I didn't know Porter was involved with the Camel Corps.
You do learn something every day on these forums.
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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Wow. I didn't know Porter was involved with the Camel Corps.
You do learn something every day on these forums.

Yup. Porter and Davis apparently worked well together, to the point where there seems to have been some real uncertainty in the minds of many whether Porter would "go South" at the beginning of the war. He might have ended up as Mallory's genius/problem-child instead of Welles' :D (Porter's writings are of no help here, of course, as they uniformly stress his loyalty to the Union. [/insertstandarddisclaimerofPorter'struthfulness/] )
 

James B White

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I recall posting something in one of the other camel threads about civilian experimentation with camels. So this wasn't just a military idea, but fit within the larger context of trying to introduce camels (unsuccessfully) as work animals in the US south.
 

reading48

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Camels were used as early as 1836, in the South West, Which they were well adapted to. The Army introduced them into military use in 1856. These animals were stronger and
lasted longer with less care than horses or mules.
It it said the original route 66 was an old camel trail leading Westward ...
Introduction of the Railroads made the old caravan trails no longer needed...
 

NH Civil War Gal

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How did they get the camels initially? Were they brought overseas for the Confederacy or were some already here from a prior importation? The old army breed them? How fascinating! I never knew about this!
 

gary

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Feb 20, 2005
He remained with the regiment until the Siege of Vicksburg, where he was killed by Union sharpshooters. Enraged at his murder, the men swore to avenge him. Col. Bevier enlisted six of his best snipers, and successfully shot the culprit. Of Douglas’s murderer, Bevier reportedly said, “I refused to hear his name, and was rejoiced to learn that he had been severely wounded.” According to legend, after Douglas was shot, his remains were carved up and eaten, with some of his bones made into souvenirs by Federal soldiers.

Where did the above information come from?

How did they get the camels initially? Were they brought overseas for the Confederacy or were some already here from a prior importation? The old army breed them? How fascinating! I never knew about this!

OP mentioned they were brought over as an experiment (that failed). Arab handlers were brought in too to train the army's camel riders. Perhaps this is where we get some Muslims who served in the war.
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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No dromedary has one hump. Hybrid (usually bigger and stronger that either parent) also usually had one hump.

It's Ogden Nash. He's being confusing with humorous intent. :smile:

(Actually, the way I remember it is that a dromedary begins with D, which has one hump like the letter D on its side, and a Bactrian camel, which begins with B, has two humps like the letter B on its side.)
 

major bill

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Thirty-three camels (21 Arabian camels, 9 dromedary, two Bactrian and one huge hybrid) were purchased. At the time the term "dromedary" was used for one hump racing or ridding camels and the term"Arabian" was used for one hump work camels, hybrids are usually huge working camels, their size depends on the percentage of Bactrian camel in them. Five handlers came with the camels.

The Supply made a second voyage and purchased more camels. Two helpers also came in this trip.
 
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