Another report maintained that six camels were able to transport, over the same ground and the same distance, the weights of two six-mule wagons; and the camels gained forty-two and one half hours in time compared to the mules. A heavy rainstorm made the test exceptionally difficult, but the camels arrived at their destination in a time that surprised everyone.
It was now and everyone in the US Army knew that secession was imminent. Way was recalled to Washington because of his sympathies to the Confederate cause and assigned elsewhere. He did not get to oversee the second shipload of forty-one camels that arrived at Port Indianola, in January of Texans were growing more and more wary of accepting slaves as Federal Law prohibited their importations.
After awhile the demand for camels was filled and many were turned loose and became the dread of cattlemen. When horses sniffed the presence of camels the horses bolted as if they were frightened by rattlesnakes. Just as Fort Martin Scott boosted the welfare of Fredericksburg, and Fort Mason generated the town of Mason, Camp Verde attracted a storekeeper, a doctor named Nowlin, who set up his office halfway between Comfort and Kerrville in what is now called Center Point.
One evening, Indians raided Dr.
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The cavalry and some civilians found a fresh Indian trail that led all the way to the Concho River near present day San Angelo, where they battled it out with a different band of Indians with stolen horses and other items. The never did recover the camels or Dr. Around this time, the officials in Washington were getting virulent complaints from pioneers who found travel in the Northwest, West and into California extremely perilous.
Thinking the camels would help solve the problem, Lieutenant Beale was instructed to lead a wagon train with camels from Camp Verde to California. The Beale expedition, and camels, made the return trip back to Camp Verde. But nine of the camels remained in California with their progeny, out in the wilds. They were seen as late as In orders were received for a contingent at Camp Verde to ready twenty-four camels to explore the unknown territory of the Big Bend region of Texas. The absence of sufficient water had defeated many an expedition into the desolate and arid land.
The camels seemed to have an uncanny ability to find water at just the right time. In , the rumblings and maneuvering of impending conflict between abolitionist states and slave states were accelerating.
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Everyone was not only having to choose sides, but they had to worry about what would happen to their livelihoods, property and funds. On February 4, , Lee was relieved of duty and ordered to report back to Washington. Lee refused to fight against his home state, and joined the Confederacy. At Camp Verde, the Confederates were in urgent need of salt.
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Texas seaports were blockaded, so the Confederates would load bales of cotton on the camels in exchange for salt obtained at the Salt Lakes near Kingsville. In early , it was clear that the South would not win the war, and Confederates not living in Texas began to leave so as to make their way home.
Ranchers near Camp Verde had their eyes on the Confederate land, the quartermastery and the camels.
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In March of , the Unionists retook Camp Verde and began carrying out orders from their superiors to sell the camels. They found buyers for the circus for a few. Bethel Coopwood and his partners were the highest bidder and became the proud new owners of the remaining sixty-six camels. The Coopwood brothers were Confederate sympathizers who made their home in Hermanas, Mexico during the war; although they made frequent visits to their families in San Antonio. After the was, Bethel took the state law exam and passed it easily.
Between Camp Verde to San a few camels escaped.
Rewards were offered and in short order people began bringing them to Coopwood. Learning abut the camels, the Ringling Brothers Circus came to San Antonio and bought five of them from the Coopwood brothers. Finally, Bethel Coopwood moved from Mexico to a farm in southern Travis County and brought with him his remaining camels. Thirty-two of the camels, plus one calf born at sea, arrived at Indianola, Texas, on April 29, , but because of bad weather and shallow water were not unloaded until May On June 4 Wayne started his caravan westward.
They stopped near Victoria, where the animals were clipped and Mrs. Mary A. Shirkey spun and knit for the president of the United States a pair of camel-pile socks. The animals were finally located at Camp Verde, where several successful experiments were made to test the camels' utility in the pursuit of Indians and the transportation of burdens. Wayne reported that camels rose and walked with as much as pounds without difficulty, traveled miles without water, and ate almost any kind of plant.
One camel trek was made to the unexplored Big Bend. The first camel importation was followed by a second, consisting of forty-one beasts, which were also quartered at Camp Verde. In the spring of James Buchanan's secretary of war, John B.
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Floyd, directed Edward Fitzgerald Beale to use twenty-five of the camels in his survey for a wagon road from Fort Defiance, New Mexico, across the thirty-fifth parallel to the Colorado River. After this survey, the drive continued to Fort Tejon, California, where the camels were used to transport supplies and dispatches across the desert for the army. Eventually some of the animals were turned loose, some were used in salt pack-trains, and others even saw Texas again after Bethel Coopwood , Confederate spy and Texas lawyer, captured fourteen from Union forces.
During the Civil War eighty camels and two Egyptian drivers passed into Confederate hands. The camels soon were widely scattered; some were turned out on the open range near Camp Verde; some were used to pack cotton bales to Brownsville; and one found its way to the infantry command of Capt.
Sterling Price, who used it throughout the war to carry the whole company's baggage.
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In the federal government sold the camels at auction; sixty-six of them went to Coopwood. Some of the camels in California were sold at auction in , and others escaped to roam the desert. The failure of the camel in the United States was not due to its capability; every test showed it to be a superior transport animal. It was instead the nature of the beasts which led to their demise-they smelled horrible, frightened horses, and were detested by handlers accustomed to the more docile mules. Two private importations of camels followed the government experiment.
On October 16, , Mrs. Watson reported to Galveston port authorities that her ship had eighty-nine camels aboard, and claimed that she wanted to test them for purposes of transport. One port official, however, felt that she was using the camels to mask the odor typically associated with a slave ship and refused her petition to unload the cargo.
After two months in port, Mrs.
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Watson sailed for the slave markets in Cuba after dumping the camels ashore in Galveston, where they wandered about the city and died from neglect and slaughter around the coastal sand dunes. A second civilian shipment of a dozen camels arrived at Port Lavaca in , where it met a similar fate. All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.