Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/154

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the outbreak of the civil war some interesting and successful attempts were made to use the "ship of the desert" for military transportation purposes. The first lengthy expedition was made by Lieutenant Edward F. Beale, who on September 1 set out to make a wagon road from Fort Defiance, New Mexico, to California. Camels, as well as mules, were used by the road-making party. The work lasted forty-eight days. Beale reported that the camels had been subjected to the severest tests and had failed in no instance; that they even learned to swim rivers. Beale considered that one of them was worth four good mules. From 1857 to 1861 Beale with twenty camels was occupied in exploring the unknown regions of the southwest. He found that the camels could do successfully all that was required of them. By 1861 his herd of twenty had increased to twenty-eight.[1]

Other trials of the camels were made in 1859 by Major D. H. Vinton, who used twenty-four of them in carrying burdens for a surveying party.[2] From May to August, 1859, Lieutenant Edward L. Hartz was in charge of the camel herd. Hartz sent to the War Department a full journal of an exploring expedition in which camels and mules were used. His verdict was not quite so enthusiastic as those of Wayne and Beale, but he pronounced the experiment a success. The camels were inferior to mules, he said, on slippery surfaces; they were not as good climbers as mules, but they were much swifter on level, rocky or sandy ground; it was difficult to keep the loads on the camels and frequent stops had to be made to replace the saddles, which could not be properly fastened by inexperienced packers. It was his belief that the female camel was better than the male; that the camels really preferred bushes, dry shrubs and grasses to grazing grasses; that they could go without water for more than two days and not suffer. All in all, he concluded, the camel was much superior to the mule.[3]

The success of the War Department tests caused other importations. In 1858 a British vessel brought over two cargoes of camels for a Mrs. Watson, who lived near Houston, Texas. Arab caretakers were employed and F. R. Lubbock, later governor of Texas, was put in charge of them. He says that they were healthy, and useful, but that they created too much sensation when they went into Houston or traveled about the country.[4]

There is a tradition that ten animals were brought to New York in 1857; of these two survived and were sent to Nevada, where by 1875 their offspring numbered ninety-five.[5]

In 1861 a San Francisco company imported twenty Bactrians (two--

  1. Circular No. 53, Bureau of Animal Industry, 1903.
  2. Sen. Ex. Doc, No. 2, 36 Cong., 1 Sess., p. 422.
  3. Sen. Ex. Doc, No. 2, 36 Cong., 1 Sess., pp. 425-41.
  4. Lubbock, "Six Decades in Texas," 1900, p. 238.
  5. Leonard, pp. 14, 123.