Hysterical Journey To Historic Places

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February 11th 2016
Published: February 11th 2016
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Taken from a vantage point looking west toward the river crossing from the southern edge of the sandy bluff where Fort Mohave once stood. The river crossing at the time of the uprising was in the middle of the cultivated farm land in the mid ground.

line-height: 115%!;(MISSING)">A fellow in the Quartermaster Corps named Major George
Crossman came up with the notion of using camels for military transportation
during the Seminole War in Florida during the 1830s. Camels could travel a long way without water;
they could carry much more weight than a mule, and would eat anything a goat
would eat and several things that no self-respecting goat would ever consider
eating. The idea did not take root in the War Department until 20years later during
the administration of President Franklin Pierce. The always forward thinking
Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, finally got behind the camel experiment when
he observed on a map that much of Western America was a “great desert”. Much of that country was arid, but it was mostly
a high grassy plain, not a desert. In any event appropriations were passed to
fund an experimental camel corps in 1856.
The first boatload of camels stepped ashore at Indianola, Texas on
February 10, 1857 and with them came half a dozen or so camel wranglers. One of them called himself Hadji Ali. The
term “hadji” was a title more than a name.
A hadji was a guy who had made the pilgrimage to Mecca. He was a veteran of the French Army who had served
in Algeria as a camel wrangler and had a facility with the French and English
languages. He enlisted for the camel experiment at Smyrna, Turkey. His dad was from Syria and his mom was
Greek. His “Greek” name was Fillipuo
Tedora. American soldiers soon began
calling him Hi Jolly and that is how he is known to history. Because of his past experience in the French
Army he understood military service and with his language skills became the
lead camel caretaker. The Pierce
Administration came to a screeching halt in March of 1857 when James Buchanan
ascended to the Presidency and John Floyd became the new Secretary of War. The always forward thinking Jefferson Davis
ascended to the Presidency of the Southern Confederacy when Uncle Abe Lincoln
won the presidential election in 1860.
Floyd inherited the camel experiment and with some misgivings allowed it
to go forth. He was far more interested
in fighting the Mormon War than he was in the camel experiment. Another remnant of the Pierce Administration
that Floyd inherited was a proposed route for the transcontinental railroad
along the 35th Parallel.

Avi Casino now resides near the site of the Beaver Lake village on the west side of the river. It is one of a very few Indian Casinos in Nevada.
army topographical corps was charged with surveying that route in 1853, but
they did not build a road to follow. It
made good practical sense to bundle the camel experiment with the road
construction project. A political
favorite named Edward F. Beale was named to lead the road construction project. Beale was a very capable man. He had been a naval lieutenant, a hero of the
Mexican War, an international spy, and the intrepid traveler who brought the first
samples of California Gold to Washington City. The gold samples are what drove
westward expansion across America and the railroads followed. Free land for a growing nation and settlement
on that land followed the railroad.
Beale was a sort of national hero for getting that whole movement
started with the gold samples. It became
known general as the California Gold Rush. The road building expedition got
underway on August 27, 1857 from Fort Defiance in what was then New Mexico
Territory. Fort Defiance happened to be
situated very near the 35th Parallel and very nearly atop the
present state boundary in Eastern Arizona. The plan was to follow a route first explored
by Lt Amiel Whipple in 1853 and 1854

The Rose Party abandoned all of their property and made their desperate escape toward the conical peak in the background. The peak marks the entrance to Oatman Canyon. Beale's Wagon Road passed through that canyon.
from Fort Smith, Arkansas to
California. Beale hired a guide named Savedra
in Albuquerque who supposedly knew the route and locations where water and
grass could be found along the way. Within a couple of weeks Savedra became hopelessly
lost and the expedition nearly perished of thirst, but they reached the
Colorado River near the Mohave Villages safely on October 18, 1857. They rested
and traded with the Indians on the 19th. Despite being lost they were almost exactly on
the 35th Parallel. The river
was high and dangerous but because of the villages both side sides had good
landings. The wagons were all floated
across the river on the 20th using inflatable rubberized air
bags. It was the first river crossing
ever successfully attempted using that method. Whipple’s route dipped south
along the Big Sandy and Bill Williams Rivers to a crossing nearer Lake
Havasu. They then moved back north until
they reached the Mohave Villages near the 35th Parallel. The route Beale found west of Flagstaff
eventually became the corridor used by Route 66 as far as Oatman. Beale was now once again on track with the
Whipple route. Beale attempted to cross
his livestock on the 21st

Beaver Lake was a backwater to the river. It extended about a mile upstream. The Mohave village where Hoffman and Bishop both fought and where the camel charge took place was at the lower end of the village. The casino has a golf course there now that is irrigated by river pump, and the irrigation runoff drains into water hazards that closely mimic the original lake basin.
but nobody knew if camels could swim a
swift river. Major Wayne, the commanding
officer of the Camel Corps down in Texas said that camels could not swim. Hi Jolly said he had never heard of a
swimming camel. They decided to try and
cross some horses and mules first and let the camels watch. Maybe the camels would follow that example. What happened was that half of the animals in
the first attempt at the crossing got swept away and drowned. The Indians were waiting downstream, pulled
the dead animals out of the river and made a fine supper of them that
evening. When the camels saw those other
animals get swept down the river screaming in panic they would not go near the
landing. Beale was at his wits end. He thought about trying to lash the camels to
the air bags but it seemed like an inherently bad idea. Hi Jolly could swim and suggested crossing
the largest and strongest camel alone and see if the other camels would
follow. That big camel took to the
mighty river like an otter and just frolicked his way across. When the other camels saw how much fun it was

This is the camel fort that Bishop built at Pah Ute Spring. He buried provisions inside the enclosure for use by Beale, but Hoffman's men stole those provisions. Hoffman harbored a deep personal animosity toward Beale for some reason. A rock inscribed with Bishop's name was found at this site in the 1930s that is now part of the collection at the museum in Barstow.

they hopped in too and frolicked across of their own accord. Not a single one of them got swept away or
drowned. That place became known as
Beale’s Crossing. The remaining horses,
mules, and cattle crossed with minimal loss.
The sheep, dogs, chickens and pigs came across the river on rafts
floated by the air bags. Beale hired
some Indian guides to show him the water holes on across to Cajon Pass and then
down the Old Spanish Trail through San Bernardino to Los Angeles and up over
the Grapevine to Fort Tejon, which is also very near the 35th

line-height: 115%!;(MISSING)">Beale happened to own a ranch in partnership with Samuel A
Bishop that adjoined Fort Tejon. Among
the many good deeds that Sam Bishop had done in his lifetime was to advocate
for better treatment of Indians. They
were terribly abused by the whites, Mexicans, and the Church, and Sam Bishop had
become a sort of de-facto agent and protector for them. Beale needed to carry his final report on the
road job and the effective use of the camels back east to the Secretary of War,
John Floyd. He took off from the ranch in

Ruins of the small military outpost built in Pah Ute Canyon to provide escort protection for the wagon road and mail. The outpost was abandoned to the dust and coyotes soon after the transcontinental railroad was finished.
of 1857 with wagons loaded with his road construction gear and ten
pack camels, dropped down to Los Angeles to pick up additional supplies and
then headed up the Old Spanish Trail to meet a military escort waiting at Cajon
Pass. The soldiers were being sent to
the river to investigate rumors that the Mormons were inciting Indians to
attack emigrant trains in that area as, in fact, the Mormons had. They had murdered the entire Fancher Train at
Mountain Meadows except for a few very small children who could be raised in
the Faith. The soldiers did not find any
Mormons or Indians lurking along the Mohave Road making ready to pounce on
unsuspecting travelers. When the soldiers reached Beale’s Crossing they were
astonished to see a steamboat bobbing around at the landing. It was Captain George Johnson’s side wheeler,
the General Jessup, taking on a load of firewood. Johnson was as astonished to see the camels
as the Mohaves had been to see the steamboat. Johnson had taken his steamboat
up the river from Fort Yuma to see how far towards Utah the river was navigable
under steam power. The Mormon War was
still raging merrily along and

Final resting place in the Quartzsite Cemetery for both Hi Jolly, the faithful camel wrangler, and Topsy, the last surviving camel. The cemetery is situated behind the World Famous Quartzsite Yacht Club. "Long Time No Sea".....
the river might be a vital connection for
assault or supply between Fort Yuma and Utah.
Johnson helped Beale across the river with the wagons, supplies and
tools, and Hi Jolly took the camels back to Fort Tejon.

line-height: 115%;">Settlement in Kansas had been proceeding briskly but had
become a battleground between Abolitionists and Pro Slavery factions. Many of
those settlers, fearing for their safety in Bleeding Kansas, had decided to
move on to the salubrious climate of California where they could live in
peace. The Overland Route passing
through Utah was ill advised because of the Mormon War and travelers coming
down the Santa Fe Trail from Bleeding Kansas were directed to use the new
Mohave Road. Back in Washington City Beale had been prevailed upon by Secretary
Floyd to complete the road along Whipple’s Route between Fort Smith, Arkansas
and Cajon Pass. As the weary months drug
on across 1858 the Mormon War had run its surly course, the camels had gnawed
out a nice pasture for themselves at Tejon Ranch, and a few hearty pioneers had
begun crossing the Mohave Road. The Leonard
Rose Party of emigrants out of Keosauqua, Iowa was the first to bounce
themselves down the Mohave Road. They
were a pretty strong outfit when they were all together and might have driven
off an attack, but they suffered from lack of water found along the way just as
Beale had done and they had to split up with small groups advancing from one
water hole to the next. The first of
them to arrive on August 27, 1858 at Beale’s Crossing were the Rose, Brown, and
Bentner Families along with all of their combined livestock. They were the first white people that the
Mohave had ever seen who were not soldiers.
Those families looked pretty meek and easily intimidated and they
were. The first afternoon the Mohaves
blatantly stole some cattle and oxen and made a fine supper of them. The whites did not retaliate so the Mohaves
took more the next day, and the next after that. During the afternoon of the 30th
of August as the emigrants were working on some rafts to float across the river
their camp was attacked by a sassy party of Mohave warriors. The emigrants fought bravely and after a
desperate battle lasting two hours the Mohaves were driven off. After darkness fell the emigrants took their
wounded and made good their escape but they had to abandon all of their
livestock and possessions to do so. They
made their way back to the Udell Family who were waiting at a spring, but the
Udells had no livestock either. They had
sent all of their animals forward to the river expecting no trouble. The Udells had to abandon all of their
possessions too and the whole sad bunch had to make for Albuquerque pretty much
afoot and destitute. Surely they would
have perished one by one along the dusty trail, but they had the good fortune
of meeting another emigrant train headed for the crossing. They were the Hamilton Train, also from Iowa,
and Hamilton was an acquaintance of Rose.
Hamilton took them in, shared his
dwindling supply of provisions and they all headed back to Albuquerque. Just as they were all about to start thinking
about eating their hats, shoes, and saddle blankets they met the Smith
Party. The Smith’s had 500 head of
cattle so there was no longer much danger of starving. The whole shebang started back for
Albuquerque. It was soon deemed
advisable to send an advance party of the 30 most fit forward to the Zuni
Villages to bring word of the Mohave Uprising to the army. On November 1, 1857 the emigrants straggled
in to the Zuni Villages. It had taken 62
days, since the attack, for them to reach safety. The army supplied them food, clothing,
blankets, and shoes but there was still about 130 miles to reach Albuquerque. They all rested a few days before shoving off
and reached Albuquerque in another couple of weeks. All of the surviving emigrants eventually
made it to California. Leonard Rose had
to delay his trip to California because he was too destitute to go on. He took a job as a waiter in Albuquerque, but
soon moved up to Santa Fe and purchased the La Fonda Hotel with funds borrowed
from a brother. It was a kind of seedy
dive, but he restored it to respectability before flipping it and moving
on. A La Fonda Hotel up in Taos thrives
to this day. Alpha Brown’s wife, Mary,
and stepdaughter, Sarah Fox, also remained awhile in Albuquerque. Mary Brown was the needful widowof a Mason
and survived the winter along with Sarah, or Sally as she was called, at the
largesse of the order of Masons. Sally picked up a pocketful of walnuts along
the river one day and told her mom that she would start an orchard with them in
California. They eventually settled near
Vacaville and Mrs Brown started up her own boarding house. Sally planted her walnuts and one of them
produced a tree that grew to a huge size.
A hundred years later that tree was still an attraction in Vacaville. A
motel, over-priced restaurant, and gift shop collectively called the Nut Tree
sprang into existence there. The Nut
Tree was a popular stopover for gamblers rushing back and forth between the Bay
Area and Reno for maybe 50 years.
Sally’s tree did pretty well for itself.

line-height: 115%!;(MISSING)">The Mohaves had also been disrupting the U S Mail being
carried along Mohave Road, but word of the uprising had found its way into
California in November of 1858. The
public outcry was loud enough that the Army responded with a fair amount of
alacrity. The mail must get through and
the uprising could not be allowed to interfere with military plans to attack
the Mormons from the river if need be.
In December Major William Hoffman lead a company of the Sixth Infantry
and an escort of dragoons out of Fort Tejon on a reconnaissance to establish a
military post at Beale’s Crossing. They
arrived at the river on January 9, 1859 and fought a brief skirmish in which 18
Mohaves were reported killed. Hoffman’s
force was badly outnumbered and he chose to withdraw rather than attempt to
make what might be a costly stand. It
was the right choice, but it gave the Mohave a taste of victory over the Army
and they became even sassier about the mail. Hoffman retreated back to Fort
Tejon and began the task of assembling a much larger force which gathered at
Fort Yuma with the intention of striking all of the Mohave camps along the
river up to the crossing where he would build a new fort. Beale, in the meantime, had completed his road
from Fort Smith to a winter camp at Hatch’s Ranch near Fort Union, New
Mexico. From there he sent his clerk,
Fred Kerlin, down to Mesilla and then over the Butterfield Trail by stagecoach
to Los Angeles. Kerlin was to purchase
supplies and arrange with Sam Bishop to bring the supplies by camel train to
the Mohave Villages. When he first learned of the hostilities in
Los Angeles Kerlin applied for a military escort for Bishop’s camel train but
the request was denied. On March1, 1859
Bishop set out from Los Angeles with 40
hired men, six wagons - each pulled by a team of six mules, adequate riding
stock and 20 camels. Along the way they picked up four more guys who worked for
the mail contractor and had failed to obtain safe passage for the mail carriers.
They gladly joined Bishop’s merry
band. The Mohave were not unaware of
what was descending upon them; they knew that Bishop was coming from the west;
they knew that Beale was coming from the east; they knew that Bishop and Beale
would converge at the crossing. Mostly
what they knew was that Hoffman was coming up the river from Fort Yuma with a
thousand or so soldiers and he was intending to destroy all villages, camps,
and food crops that he found. Families
from those villages began to concentrate in the big villages at the
crossing. Some Paiutes and Yumas joined
them. By the time Bishop arrived at the
Beaver Lake Village on March 19, 1859 there were maybe about 1800 warriors to
oppose his crossing. He tried crossing
twice but was driven back both times and fought a couple of sharp engagements. Bishop’s men were well armed and the Mohave
could not advance inside the range of the guns; they lost maybe 30 warriors in
those fights. Like Hoffman before him
Bishop chose not to make what might become a costly stand and on the morning of
March 22nd decided to retreat back to Pah Ute Spring about 20 miles
to the west. At the spring Bishop built
a strong defensive position as he waited for Beale. The camel fort was a rock
wall with a commanding view built on a bluff above the spring. It was four feet high, forty feet wide and one
hundred feet long. It stands there to
this day. He then sent two messengers in
search of Hoffman requesting military assistance in crossing the river. The
messengers, Eckhart and Renfroe, survived the dangerous journey and located
Hoffman at a new supply depot called Camp Gaston near where the thriving little
town of Palo Verde would later be built.
Hoffman had come only about 60 miles up the river from Fort Yuma. He cheerfully denied Bishop’s request for
assistance. During their visit to Camp
Gaston, Renfroe had somehow managed to shoot himself in the leg and had to
remain with the army. Eckhart returned
alone on April 5 with the sad news that Bishop was on his own. While Eckhart was gone Bishop kept the others
busy by improving the road through Pah Ute Canyon where the spring was located.
Hoffman’s refusal to provide assistance
forced Bishop to take drastic action. He sent the wagons and mule teams loaded
with provisions for the journey back to Fort Tejon. With them went half of the men. Most of the provisions he buried inside the
camel fort. He took all 20 camels, and
men to ride them and returned to Beale’s Crossing. At daybreak on the morning of April 7 as they
approached the Beaver Lake village they found a force of maybe 500 warriors
blocking the river. Bishop formed up in
four rows of five and assaulted the Mohave position with guns blazing. A charging camel is a spectacle to
behold. The Indians scattered like
bowling pins in all directions. The
camel charge easily broke through, turned left at the river and quickly outran
all pursuit. They made a safe crossing
upstream, bypassed the village on the east bank and went in search of Beale. It
was the first, last, and only camel charge ever to take place in this
hemisphere and it was done by twenty daring civilians with no military training
or experience. Late in April Bishop and
Beale finally met up near the San Francisco Peaks. Many of the surviving emigrants had joined up
with Beale in Albuquerque and continued on to California under his
protection. Hoffman finally arrived at
Beale’s Crossing on May 2 with his army.
The Mohave conceded their country to him. Fort Colorado was built on a low sandy bluff
on the east side of the river. Hoffman
returned to Fort Tejon. Fort Colorado
was under the command of Captain Lewis Armistead with Captain Richard Garnett
second in command. Peace had returned to
Beale’s Crossing, but Armistead and Garnett would be called upon to defeat a
recalcitrant band of Mohaves later that fall.
It marked the end of the Mohave Uprising. The Mohave Road flourished with emigrant
travel even though the fort was abandoned in 1861 due to the outbreak of the
War Between the States. Armistead and
Garnett both joined the Confederate Army.
Both of them became brigade commanders in General Pickett’s Division and
both were killed during the charge at Gettysburg. After the war the Mohave Wagon Road remained
an important route until the transcontinental railroad reached completion. Fort
Colorado was rebuilt as Fort Mohave and an outpost for escort protection along
the road called Camp Paiute was built at Pah Ute Spring. The soldiers used Bishop’s camel fort as a
corral. When Hoffman passed through
there on his way back to Fort Tejon his men discovered the provisions buried
there, knew they belonged to Beale and stole them. Hi Jolly accompanied all movements of the
camels until such time as the experiment was abandoned and the camels auctioned
off. He continued to serve the army as a
scout, packer, courier, and interpreter for the next 30 years. He eventually married a Tucson girl under the
name of Philip Tedro and began a boisterous family of his own. He died in 1904 prospecting for gold out in
Quartzsite and is buried there. The last
surviving camel was finally rounded up in Baja California. It was given the
name of Topsy and became an attraction in the Los Angeles Zoo. When Topsy died in 1934 the remains were
cremated and buried alongside Hi Jolly and a stone monument was placed over
the graves. A camel named Douglas fell into the hands of
the commanding officer of Company A, 43rd Mississippi Infantry
Regiment in the Confederate Army and became a sort of pet and mascot for the
Bloody 43rd. Douglas was
killed by a federal sniper during the Battle of Vicksburg, buried where he fell
and eventually given a headstone to mark his final resting place. Douglas was
the only camel to be killed in the line of duty. Officially the camel
experiment failed, but they behaved better in every respect than the ornery

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