Camels in the Civil WarOne hundred and fifty years ago the United States government was rethinking its decision in replacing its horses and mules with the exotic novelty of camels. As early as 1862, General Samuel R Curtis experimented with the animals in Helena, but found his horses and mules could not get along with them. According to a May 1864 news report from out of Texas, the government abandoned all hopes of replacing their pack animals with them.

“The lot of Government camels, thirty-nine in number, which have been kept in Southern California ever since the reign of James Buchanan, were sold at auction at Benecia last week at from $39 to $55 each, in greenbacks.” The report continued, “These animals, on the road to Benicia from Los Angeles, stampeded nearly every horse and mule team they met, and after their sale at Benicia, stampeded all the four legged living stock in the place, running up a pretty handsome bill of damages.”

One of the more famous camels in use during the Civil War belonged to a Mississippi regiment. “Old Douglas” as he became affectionately known to his comrades, was wounded and later died from a gunshot wound at the siege/battle of Vicksburg. Douglas rests in the Confederate Cemetery there to this day.

This week one hundred and fifty years ago, the following military actions took place in Arkansas: a skirmish at Richland Creek on the 5th; a scout in Craighead and Lawrence Counties from May 5-9; skirmishes at Cherokee Bay, Maysville, and Jenkins’ Ferry on the 8th; a skirmish at Eudora Church on the 9th, and a skirmish on the 10th in Dardanelle.