Camels in California, a mystery?

When I was stationed in California I helped found the Fort Tejon Historical Association, which must have been in 1984. It feels like 25 years ago. Being historically minded and fresh from the east, I had done some reenacting in the reactivated 1st NC Volunteers. Age and infirmity have caused my retirement from reenacting but I still feel it is a fun way to experience history.

Fort Tejon was built at the summit of the Grapevine Pass between the Los Angeles basin and central California. It is currently on Hwy 5, which runs through the site of the Fort. When it was built it was manned by elements of the 1st US Dragoons, which went out of existance in 1861 to become the 1st and 2nd Cavalry. There was no change in mission just the colour of the braid, which went from orange to yellow. Dragoons were basically mounted infantry who used the horse as a means of transportation. During the War between the states this role was copied and very rarley did the cavalry make any great charges (though many a cavalryman desired it) a la the Napoleonic wars.

One of the great stories has been floating around the US Camel Corps and Camels in the desert...

Fanciful legend has overshadowed the real story of the camel experiment. There never was a "Camel Corps"; Edward F. Beale was never appointed to command a camel corps, and Fort Tejon, California, was never the headquarters of the non-existent "camel corps." There is myth and reality about the Army's camels, and the truth is a more interesting story than the fiction which surrounds the story. Over developed romantic fiction has the Army using the camels to haul freight, regularly to carry the mail, and for active patrols against bandits and hostile Indians. In reality, very little of this actually happened or was true. more...


Above is the only know photo of a Government Camel taken at Wilmington Califonia which is just south of the port of San Pedro, and Los Angeles.

Incidently all my children reenacted, Genevieve debuted at 4 days old and went to her first event at 4 months.

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