04.06.

1855: The American Mission to Acquire Camels (U.S. Camel Corps)

1855: The American Mission to Acquire Camels (U.S. Camel Corps)
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 04 June 1855
  • Apparently, the motive for the purchase of camels was their use in dry areas, which the United States had previously gained at the expense of Mexico (the area from Texas to California).

On this day in 1855, the American war ship USS Supply sailed on an unusual mission to acquire camels for the military. 

Namely, the Americans intended to set up a unit that would use camels for bearing loads. Jefferson Davis, who was Secretary of War at the time and who later became known as the first and only president of the Confederacy (South) in the American Civil War, was particularly interested in the idea.

USS Supply set sail from New York and headed across the Atlantic Ocean. After passing through the Strait of Gibraltar and entering the Mediterranean Sea, they started buying camels in present-day Tunisia, Malta, Greece, Turkey and Egypt.

In total, they purchased a few dozen camels, including a pair of two-humped (Bactrian) camels originating from Asia.

After returning to the United States, the camels were disembarked near the town of Indianola in Texas. Later, another voyage to the Mediterranean Sea was undertaken in order to acquire additional camels.

Apparently the motive for the purchase of camels was their use in dry areas, which the United States had previously gained at the expense of Mexico (the area from Texas to California).

However, when the American Civil War began, the project of using camels disappeared into oblivion. It appears that a significant problem with camels was that horses and mules, the predominant pack-animals at the time, were afraid of them.

Today, the failed military unit that was supposed to use camels is sometimes popularly referred to as the U.S. Camel Corps.

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