Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/151
INSTRUMENTS AND METHODS OF RESEARCH
account of the different breeds, their habits and usefulness, the nature of their diseases, the location of the best stock, the cost, the proper food and the methods of transportation. One of the papers translated was by Linant Bey, a French engineer in the Egyptian service, on "The Egyptian Dromedary"; one by General J. L. Carbuccia on "The Use of the Camel in Algiers." A paper by Colonel F. Columbari entitled "The Zemboureks, or the Dromedary Field Artillery of the Persian Army," had been translated and illustrated by Wayne in 1854.
During the voyage the animals were under the direct supervision of Lieutenant Porter, who interested himself in the minutest details. On the camel deck he posted detailed regulations to be followed in the care of the camels. A "journal of the camel deck" was kept, and in it every day wagon master Ray made note of every item of interest concerning the animals, their ailments, feed, appetites, when they were rubbed, curried, oiled, salted, etc. Some of the names are given: Said, Ayesha, Gourmal, Ibrim, etc. The first young camel born on board the ship was dubbed "Uncle Sam" and was trained by one of the Turks as a Pehlevan, or wrestler. Four of the grown camels were Pehlevans. Camel fighting was as much an oriental amusement as horse racing was a Kentucky sport, and Porter thought that the Americans might in time come to like camel contests.
When the weather was stormy and the ship unsteady there was danger of the animals falling on the smooth deck and injuring themselves. To prevent this Porter fashioned a sort of harness for each one and in rough weather made them kneel and strapped them to the deck. Once they were so strapped down for seventy-two hours.
During the voyage six calves were born. Of these only two lived; the others were probably killed by the ministrations of a quack Turkish camel doctor on board. Porter took care of the young camels as if they had been children, and gravely wrote to Davis about their diet, appetite, health, etc. Soon he was a better camel doctor than the Turk and the latter was superseded. To the secretary of war Porter sent some of the Turk's prescriptions: For a cold give the camel a piece of cheese; for swollen legs, tea and gunpowder; cauterize frequently for skin diseases; and for other complaints tickle the camel's nose with a chameleon's tail, or boil a young sheep in molasses and administer half of the mixture while hot. No wonder Porter was certain that Americans could manage camels better than the Asiatics.
At Kingston, Jamaica, a stop was made and great numbers of visitors came on board to see the camels—in one day 4,000 came. But here the camels suffered so much from heat that departure was hastened.
On April 29, 1856, the store ship reached Pass Cavallo, off Indianola, where, it was planned, the camels were to be landed. But the sea was so rough that the transfer to lighters could not be made. Porter then sailed to the Balize, the southwestern mouth of the Mississippi