Beale Adobe at Tejon Ranch, 1863 18. What can you tell me about General Beales American Camel Corps?
[Information courtesy of the City of Lancaster Museum/Art Gallery] Edward Fitzgerald Beale-a Mexican War veteran who traveled to Washington, D.C., as the first person to report news of California’s gold discovery-came up with the idea of using camels to reach distant Western military posts. After he successfully pitched the idea to War Secretary Jefferson Davis, Congress voted in 1855 to spend $30,000 for an experimental American Camel Corps, and the following year the camels started to arrive at the mouth of the Mississippi River. General Beale and a team of men led the camels from New Orleans to Fort Tejon, where they subjected the animals to various tests but ultimately found the experiment problematic. Ultimately, some camels headed out into the desert and the rest were sold at auction by the U.S. Army-and with the 1937 demise of their last descendant, “Topsy,” the American Camel Corps died a quiet death.