Ships of the Great American Desert
15. [CAMEL EXPERIMENT]. UNITED STATES. SECRETARY OF WAR (Jefferson Davis). Report of the Secretary of War...Respecting the Purchase of Camels for the Purpose of Military Transportation. Washington: A.O.P. Nicholson, Printer, 1857. 34th Congress, 3d Session, Senate Executive Document No. 62. 238 pp., numerous engraved text illustrations (all full-page), folding diagram at end (camel-mounted artillery). 8vo, original brown blind-embossed cloth, gilt-lettering on spine. Except for minor chips to spine (at extremities) and along lower joint, fine.
First edition. Graff 4436. Greenly, Camels in America, pp. 41-2. For discussion of other camel reports of the period, see Plains & Rockies III:297. This report discusses one of the more exotic chapters of Western history-the introduction of camels as pack-train animals in Texas and the Southwest. Based on this report, the Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, persuaded Congress to appropriate funds to purchase camels for use in the West, which was still largely unsettled and difficult to cross. In 1856 and 1857 the camels, along with their native handlers, were introduced at Indianola, Texas, after which the Army began the task of accommodating itself to this new mode of transportation. In 1857 Edward Beale used the camels in his survey for an overland route to California, where the animals exceeded expectations. Despite these successes, the Civil War interrupted any further use of the animals and they eventually faded from the scene, in all but myth. See The Handbook of Texas Online (Camels). ($150-300)
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