Texas Camel Tales
Powder Horn, Texas on Matagorda Bay
Tuesday, May 13, 1856...
It was the commotion that brought you down to the wharf. And that noise. A honking, belching growl like nothing you had ever heard.
The source of the noise was swinging from the yardarm of a naval vessel, high above the dock. A monstrous humped beast in a sling made of canvas and heavy rope.
Slave muscles strained to control its descent to the dock, then started the chore all over with the next animal in the hold of that government ark.
The camels had come to Texas.
Major Henry C. Wayne oversaw the work. The war department had sent him to theLevant to procure these animals - Tunisia, Egypt, even Istanbul (which was still Constantinople).
Once all thirty-three of his charges were safely on terra firma, Major Wayne wrote to Secretary of War Jefferson Davis (who in five years time would be the Confederate president).
In describing the camels first experience on Texas soil he wrote:
"On being landed and once again feeling the solid earth beneath them, they became excited to an almost uncontrollable degree, rearing, kicking, crying out, breaking halters and by other fantastic tricks demonstrated their enjoyment of the liberty of the soil."
In other words, they acted like Texans.
The story of the Army's camel experiment in Texas was almost lost, except for what was contained in dusty government reports.
But in 1929, a San Antonio lawyer by the name of Chris Emmett was on a hunting trip at Camp Verde. Emmett happened to stay in the same room once occupied by Robert E. Lee when he commanded the Department of Texas and the camel experiment.
Emmett later said:
"My curiosity quickened into a consuming fire." He spent the next three years of his life tracking down the last survivors of that period, so that the bones of the official reports could be fleshed in eyewitness truth."
Emmett's Texas Camel Tales has been out-of-print for two generations. The originals now command $500, $800, even $1000, depending on the condition and whether it still has it's jacket.
You can get your copy of our limited edition for a whole lot less than that...and the jacket will be personalized just for you.
Here's just a little of what's in the book:
- What the United States Camel Act was.
- How Camp Verde was chosen as the first (and only) US camel base.
- How Greek George, Mico and Hadji Ali left their marks on Texas and the west.
- How camels were the hit of Austin's Mardi Gras in the 1870s.
- How one Texas lady knitted socks for the president from the hair of a government camel...and received an engraved silver cup in return.
- The curious effect of camels on horses and mules.
- How several camels died under mysterious circumstances.
- The famous French architect who built the officers' quarters at Camp Verde.
- How a diligent army officer kept the camel project 30% under budget during it's first year.
- How camels could go where no wagons, horses or mules could follow.
- How the success of the government camel experiment spawned private camel schemes across Texas.
- How a future Texas Governor became camel manager for an English lady who shipped a herd to Galveston.
- How camels once swam in Buffalo Bayou.
- How one load of camels was turned loose at Indianola when the widow who imported them refused to pay...and how they wandered the area for a generation.
- How one naval officer wanted to promote the sport of camel boxing.
- Beale's epic camel expedition from Texas to California and how it proved the existence of an all season route to the west coast.
- How the Confederates took possession of and used camels in Texas.
- How camels where used as decoys in slave smuggling operations.
- How Robert E. Lee used camels to explore and map the Big Bend.
- How camels carried freight and mail between Texas and Mexico.
- Texas Camel Tales by Chris Emmett
- Standard Edition
- Satin finished jacket
- 235 pages
- Shipping is 5 dollars, anywhere in the United States.
- Your book will be packed the old fashioned way, in an actual box. No cheap book mailers.
We will gladly buy it back if you decide you don't want it anymore. There's no time limit on that.