Here’s Something You’ve Never Heard Of—the American Camel Corps

Here’s Something You’ve Never Heard Of—the American Camel Corps

Because U.S. soldiers simply didn't have the skills to handle the camels.


By all accounts the animals lived good lives—many gave rides to children, while others worked as pack animals. The camels were a familiar sight not only in the southwest but as far as British Columbia. Interestingly, the animals were encountered by the likes of Robert E. Lee before the Civil War when he was the temporary commander of the Department of Texas, and later by a young Douglas MacArthur who saw “an old army camel” as a child.

The last of the original Army camels, Topsy, reportedly died in April 1934 in Los Angeles at the age of eighty—but other accounts of camel sightings, like the offspring of the original seventy camels, continued for decades as the legacy of the American military camel.


Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on

This article is being republished due to reader interest.

Image: Reuters.