The US Camel Corps – In New Mexico – The USS Supply – A Bizarre Adventure

Today in History, June 4, 1855:

US Army Major Henry C. Wayne sails aboard the USS Supply (commanded by US Navy Lt. David Dixon Porter) for the Middle East to purchase camels that would become part of the US Camel Corps. Either he or Gen. Edward Beale had convinced US Secretary of War Jefferson Davis that the animals would be perfect for transportation in the American Southwest.

70 camels would eventually be part of the Corps, and they WERE perfect for transporting supplies long distances…but they were also cranky and difficult to manage, and scared the Army’s horses. When the US Civil War began, the project was largely forgotten as the new Union Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton, didn’t support it. Feral camels were seen roaming the Southwestern United States as late as 1941 as a result.

You may have noticed some other interesting names mentioned. David Dixon Porter was part of an already famous naval family…Farragut. David would serve with distinction in the Civil War.

The USS Supply. If her planks could have talked. The Mexican-American War….she was instrumental. Through her life she make numerous trips to the Levant…served in South Africa, South America, Brazil…she was part of two Expeditions Commodore Mathew C. Perry made to Japan, sailing into Odo Harbor on the Historic dates.

Then Supply returned and became part of the swashbuckling adventures during the Civil War Blockading Squadrons.

Victory and Assassination

Today in History, April 4: 1865:

150 years ago today. President Lincoln enters Richmond, the Confederate Capitol. Lincoln had been at City Point when informed that Richmond had been taken the day before by Union Army forces.

He immediately sailed on the USS Malvern, Flag Officer David Dixon Porter’s flagship for Richmond. After he disembarked, he was initially escorted through crowds by a contingent of sailors, who were very relieved when they were met by a group of Union Cavalry to assist in escorting the President to the home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Many former slaves attempted to pay homage to Lincoln, who would not allow it. Onlookers watched from the windows and street corners.

At Davis’ house, Lincoln sat in Davis’ chair, then toured the house.

When later asked by Union Gen. Weitzel how the conquered rebels should be treated, Lincoln indicated that he would not give an order in that regard, but that his advice would be to, “Let them up easy….let them up easy”.

As for the nervous sailors and cavalrymen that escorted him? As it turns out, Lincoln was safer in the Confederate capitol that his own. He had only ten days until he would be assassinated.

103 years later to the day, another man dedicated to civil rights and the advancement of justice, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would be assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.

April is a Historic month with many stories to tell.