Mexican-American War in 1848, Congress sent a number of
expeditions to the Southwest to explore the area. In September, 1851
Captain Lorenzo Sitgreaves, along with a small crew of topographers,
naturalists, artists, and support personnel, plus an escort of 50
infantrymen were sent to explore and map the Zuni and Colorado Rivers.
From 1853-56, Lieutenant Amiel Whipple, a soldier and topographical
engineer, was charged with the exploration of the territory from
Fort Smith, Arkansas to
Los Angeles, California for a projected
transcontinental railroad route near the 35th parallel of latitude.
With the information provided by these expeditions, Congress commissioned
the southwest’s first federally funded interstate road to be built through
the heart of the new lands to California.
In 1857, Lieutenant Edward Fitzgerald Beale was appointed by President James Buchanan to survey and
build a more than 1,000 mile wagon road from Fort Defiance, New Mexico to
the Colorado River, between
had many years’
experience in the west, first with the U.S. Navy in California, then with
and John C. Fremont, other early
of the West.
this time, the U.S. Army was conducting an “experiment” utilizing
in the desert, first proposed by Secretary of War
Jefferson Davis four
years earlier. It was thought that camels could be used to carry at least
twice the amount of weight as horses or mules and, might also be used in
tracking and pursuing
Indians, as they could travel without water or rest
for a much longer time. The first camels arrived from Africa in the early
part of 1857, just in time for Beale's
survey expedition. In March, the Secretary of War ordered the formation of
the 1st U.S. Army Camel Corps and appointed 35-year-old Lieutenant Edward
Beale to command it.
From 1857 to 1860