Douglas the Confederate Camel

23rdYahoos

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Dec 15, 2011
Location
Chester County, PA
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 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 ascended to the position of United States Secretary of War in 1856, 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 was 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 the Confederate Camel is currently honored with his own grave marker in Vicksburg's Cedar Hill Cemetery, in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
 

JRJ

First Sergeant
Retired Moderator
Joined
Jun 1, 2012
Location
God's Country.
Very interesting account! Thank you for posting. I had heard about the Texas Camel Experiment before, but never heard anything more about it!
 

donna

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
May 12, 2010
Location
Now Florida but always a Kentuckian
Always enjoy reading about Old Douglas. There are several threads on him. I know there are some photos of his grave too. Just put in the search Old Douglas and the threads will come up.
 

kholland

Captain
Retired Moderator
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Feb 13, 2011
Location
Howard County, Maryland
Old Douglas.jpg

Too bad those guys weren't a Zouave regiment. That would have certainly added to the look. Here's a site with brief descriptions of other critters that were mascots during the war.

http://alexandriava.gov/historic/fortward/default.aspx?id=40198#5
 

Rob9641

Captain
Annual Winner
Joined
Jun 7, 2010
Location
Maryland
This is an aside - why would you name a camel "Douglas"? Isn't that kind of like naming a Weiner dog "Sun Yi" or something? Just doesn't sound right.
 

jessgettysburg1863

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jun 3, 2012
Location
Living in Kilmore in Victoria Australia
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 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 ascended to the position of United States Secretary of War in 1856, 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 was 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 the Confederate Camel is currently honored with his own grave marker in Vicksburg's Cedar Hill Cemetery, in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

That is a very nice artical/post, great little read !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
Camels were used by the US cavalry at Ft. Tejon Calif in the the Teachapi Mtns midway between Los Angeles and present day Bakersfield. The cavalry did not like the camels and eventually they just let them loose and they all died out. Other nations have used camels successfully i don't know why we couldn't. It seems like a good idea.

Leftyhunter
 
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