Featured Collection: Camels in Texas

by Traci Reece, Reference Librarian

The current Featured Collection book display in the Reference Reading Room, “Camels in Texas,” was inspired by a recent reference request about a near fatal camel expedition in the Big Bend area.

Eager to identify military supply routes from Texas to California, U. S. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis convinced Congress to approve the purchase and import of camels in 1855 for use on the harsh western frontier. This was the beginning of the “Camel Experiment” in Texas. The camels that arrived at Indianola, Texas in 1856 were housed with their handlers at Camp Verde in Kerr County. Despite successful expeditions throughout West Texas, the camels’ general unpopularity and the onset of the Civil War brought an end to the camel experiment. After Confederate forces captured Camp Verde in Spring 1861, many of the camels were left to roam and fend for themselves and eventually succumbed to hunger and slaughter. Read more about the fate of these members of the “U.S. Camel Corps” in publications available from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission collections.

Tom Lovell, “Camels in Texas,” Oil on Canvas, 37″ x 57″. From Permian : a continuing saga, Elmer Kelton and Tom Lovell, Permian Basin Petroleum Museum, 1985. 

Our featured collection, “Camels in Texas,” will be on display in the Reference Reading Room in the Lorenzo de Zavala Texas State Archives and Library building at 1201 Brazos St. Austin, Texas 78701 through March 2020.

See below for a list of titles with links to our online catalog and other electronic resources. For more information about the books and other materials available at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, or to send a reference request, please email ref@tsl.texas.gov or call 512-436-5455.





The American camel experiment, a reappraisal

Connelly, Thomas L. Southwestern Historical Quarterly v.69, pp 442-462.

976.406 SO8 v.69                                                     

MAIN and online through The Portal to Texas History

Camel trek

Regan, Rex

813.5 R261c


The camels are coming

Earney, Ann. The Texas Historian, v. 38 no. 2, pp 14-22.

976.406 J959 V.38

MAIN and online through The Portal to Texas History

Camels in Texas

San Jacinto Museum of History Association

976.405 SA52


Camels to California; a chapter in Western transportation

Fowler, Harlan Davey

979 F829


Camels: overcoming West Texas’s harsh geography

Mudambi, Aradhana. The Texas Historian, v.55 no.2, pp 1-3.

976.406 J959 V.54-55

MAIN and online through The Portal to Texas History

Fort Davis, Texas, 1583-1960

Scobee, Barry

976.4934 Sco15f


Kerr County, Texas, 1856-1976

Watkins, Clara

976.4884 W322K


Noble brutes : camels on the American frontier

Boyd, Eva Jolene

636.2 B692N


Old Camp Verde : the home of the camels : a romantic story of Jefferson Davis’ plan to use camels on the Texas frontier

Hunter, J. Marvin (John Marvin)

357 H917O


Old forts of the Southwest

Hart, Herbert M.

355.7 H251 V.2


Operation Camel: An experiment in animal transportation in Texas, 1857-1860

Lammons, Frank Bishop. Southwestern Historical Quarterly, v. 61, pp 20-50.

976.406 SO8 v.61                                                       

MAIN and online through The Portal to Texas History

Permian : a continuing saga

Kelton, Elmer

665.5074 K299p OVER-L


Robert E. Lee in Texas

Rister, Carl Coke

923.5 L515r


Texas camel tales; incidents growing up around an attempt by the War Department of the United States to foster an uninterrupted flow of commerce through Texas by the use of camels

Emmett, Chris

976.4 EM64 1969


True tales of the Texas frontier : eight centuries of adventure and surprise

Williams, C. Herndon

976.49 W670t


The U.S. Camel Corps : an Army experiment

Faulk, Odie B.

357 F273U


United States Congressional serial set. 881.

United States. Government Publishing Office.

Y 1.1/2:SERIAL 881

USD and online through Internet Archive

Uncle Sam’s camels : the journal of May Humphreys Stacey supplemented by the report of Edward Fitzgerald Beale (1857-1858)

Stacey, May Humphreys

917.64 ST12u 1970


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