The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 69, July 1965 - April, 1966 Page: 462
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
trade and communication, and that three to four years would be
required to raise a sufficient herd to risk extended experiments.47
But Davis continued to order piecemeal trials that had no
coordinating element. The result was that by the end of 1859,
small groups of camels were scattered throughout the West at
Camp Verde, Texas, Camp Tejon, California, and other places-
too small and scattered in number to conduct widespread opera-
tions. Of all the uses to which the camel could be put, the drom-
edary corps would require the most careful and extensive breed-
ing, and yet, ironically, Davis, the most avid supporter of the
corps, was most responsible for its failure by refusing to build
up a sound herd.48
The aftermath of the experiment has been treated in several
articles; but it is significant that the scattering of the camels and
the eventual selling of the herds or setting them free to wander
for years across the plains, are both further proof that the experi-
ment had already fallen to pieces before war broke out. For the
idea to have been successful, it would have required three things
which it sorely lacked. It needed a leader to synthesize the mass
of opinions as to what should be done; it needed a purpose which
could be understood and planned for; and it needed public
encouragement that would regard the plan as something more
than a fad. Plagued with men who operated on what they had
read and not what they knew to be true, and attacked from
economic, traditional, and political angles, the experiment could
find many curious onlookers but few real friends. Perhaps the
best commentary on the way the experiment was handled came
from a missionary in the Levant, who had been asked a long
list of questions by Wayne on technical aspects of the camel's
use. Replying to a question on the precise weight a camel could
bear, the sage replied, "As to weighing, a camel was never
weighed in these parts."49
4"Wayne to Jesup, February 12, 1857, ibid., 196; Wayne to Davis, May 21, 1856,
ibid., lo2-1o3; Wayne to Davis, September 24, 1856, ibid., 157.
"SFor details on the scattering of the camel herds, see War of the Rebellion: A
Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (70
vols. in 128; Washington, 1880-19go1), Ser. I, Vol. L, Pt. 2, 451-453; Lewis, "Camel
Pack Trains in the Mining Camps of the West," Washington Historical Quarterly,
XIX, 274-284; Lesley, Uncle Sam's Camels, 119-136.
"gW. F. Williams to Rev. H. G. O. Dwight, November 17, 1855, Senate Executive
Documents, 34th Cong., 3rd Sess. (Serial No. 881), Document No. 62, p. 79.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 69, July 1965 - April, 1966, periodical, 1966; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117144/m1/540/: accessed July 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.