February 15th, 1856
LT David Dixon Porter leaves Smyrna, Syria for
Indianola, Texas with 21 camels on board
Just five years before the outbreak of the Civil War, Lieutenant David Dixon Porter received unusual orders from the Secretary of War at the time, Jefferson Davis, to travel to the Mediterranean on the USS Supply. There, he was required to join Major Henry C. Wayne, then the Quartermaster of the Army, and aid him in finding and purchasing camels for experimental use in the American desert. The Supply had already traveled to the Mediterranean before, on Lieutenant William Lynch’s expedition to the Dead Sea, where Lynch himself had encountered camels, and managed to substitute them for draught-horses. Lynch’s interactions with these camels, and his lengthy descriptions of these creatures, no doubt inspired Porter’s unique assignment. Proceedings describes the history of Lieutenant Porter’s travels, as well as the fate of the camels he acquired.
Supply‘s next assignment was perhaps the most unusual duty of her career. Read the rest of this entry »
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Wednesday, February 15, 2012 1:00 AM