The Last Camel Charge: The Untold Story of America’s Desert Military Experiment
Forrest Bryant Johnson
(Berkley Caliber, hardback – Kindle)
The U.S. Army employed camels as transportation and pack animals in the American West during the mid-19th century and tried to create “a U.S. camel cavalry, a true camel corps,” the author of this fascinating history work notes.
Initially headquartered near San Antonio, Texas, the fledgling camel corps soon became involved in expeditions of discovery, as well as fighting in several areas.
The notable actions included a victorious camel charge against Mojave Indians in the Arizona Territory and helping naval lieutenant Edward Beale’s successfully create a wagon trail from Texas to California.
The Civil War ended the camel corps experiment, the author shows. But Union and Confederate forces both used camels during the conflict, and the last U.S. Army camel died in captivity in 1934.
Meanwhile, rumors abound that a few wild camels, distant offspring of the Camel Corps, are still alive and roaming the most desolate and isolated areas of the American Southwest. Indeed, the author notes, several wild camels were photographed near a West Texas railroad track in 2003.
— Si Dunn