It was 1848, the end Of the Mexican-American war. Via a treaty, in June of 1854, 29,670 square miles of Mexican territory south of the Gila River and west of the Rio Grande River became part of the United States This area is now what we know of as southern Arizona and New Mexico. The area was acquired to resolve border disputes with Mexico and to establish southern railroad routes. It is in this newly acquired area that the City of Quartzsite would later be established.
In 1855 Jefferson Davis, then the Secretary of War for the United States, (later, the President of the Confederate States of America), ordered the creation Of the first US Army Camel Corps. The creation Of the Camel Corps was based on the camels' great strength, stamina and ability to survive the harsh desert environments Of the American Southwest. With an investment Of $30,000 approximately 75 camels were transported from the Middle East to Camp Verde, Kerr County Texas, along with 7 Turkish and Arab handlers. One Of the handlers was a Turk named Hadji Ali. Hadji Ali was commonly referred to as "Hi Jolly" due to the inability of many of the soldiers to correctly pronounce his name. At Camp Verde Hi Jolly began to train the soldiers who would be using the camels to survey parts of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. He also established a successful camel-breeding program at Camp Verde.
In 1857 an expedition Of 2 dozen camels were sent west through the desert and mountains Of the southwest to the Colorado River. The remainder were used in Texas to survey new routs along the Mexican border. The expeditions proved successful but Congress could not be swayed to purchase more camels. The Civil War erupted and the great camel experiment came to an end in 1864. The camels were either auctioned off to mining companies, zoos, circuses or just turned loose in the Arizona, Texas and Nevada deserts. Feral Camels did survive in the Southwestern desert With reported sightings into the early 20th century.
Hi Jolly was discharged from the US Army in 1870. He later returned to the Army as a scout and mule handler during the Geronimo Champaign. For a short time he ran a freight service with a few camels between the Colorado River and mining camps in southwestern Arizona. Being unsucceful he released his camels into the desert. He also prospected, ran a mail service and tracked rogue camels in the desert. Hi Jolly, eventually settled in Quartzite where he later died, on December 16, 1902. In 1935 Arizona Governor Benjamin Moeur dedicated a pyramid monument built with local stone and topped with a copper camel atop Hi Jolly's gravesite to honor his military service. The last camp of Hi Jolly is the most visited place in Quartzsite and a reminder of the US Army Camel Corps experiment. And then there is the story of the huge red beast with a skeletal creature riding it's back. The RED GHOST Of southern Arizona. .....
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