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May

This webpage reproduces a section of
Uncle Sam's Camels

by
Lewis Burt Lesley


Harvard University Press,
Cambridge [Mass.], 1929
As republished by The Rio Grande Press, Inc.
Glorieta, NM 1970

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

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July
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

 p31  The Journal of May Humphreys Stacey, supplemented by selections from the Report of Edward Fitzgerald Beale

(continued: June 1857)

June 1. I received a note this afternoon from Mr. Smith, who was at the St. Charles, in a great hurry, requesting me to have everything sent up to New Orleans early in the morning as they had made arrangements to take our departure at eight o'clock. Finding that we could not put all our bag in one wagon, and knowing that we would not have time to make two trips in the morning, I had the wagon loaded, and we started for New Orleans from the Barracks. I ordered the driver to stop at the St. Charles for the purpose of seeing either Mr. Smith or Beale. Not finding them I drove to the steamship and had our baggage put on board. As I was returning to the Barracks, I stopped at Aunt's to bid them farewell. Just before I left them, Virginia acquainted me with the fact that she was going to be married next May, and invited me to  p32 be present. Aunt presented me with a portemonnaie as a souvenir. By the time we got to the Barracks, the gate had been closed, and we were obliged to bawl lustily to get the porter awake.

June 2. Last night it rained, blew, thundered and lightened, one thunder clap being in particular very loud, so loud indeed that it awakened everyone who was asleep. I did not happen to be asleep at the time. The first detachment took their departure from the station at about five without breakfast. The rest of the men got their food, loaded the wagon, and started ahead with the dogs. After seeing everything under way, I mounted and rode very fast into town. I arrived before the wagon, but not before the first party. They had too great a start. I made my report to Mr. Smith, who was glad to see me in such good time. The rain poured in torrents, and the consequence was that I got very wet. After having received everything on board the steamship was cast loose, and we were on our way down the broad Mississippi. As soon as my berth was given to me, I went and changed my wet clothes, and I took a look at our boat. She is an ordinary side-wheel steamship, with two masts, but not carrying sufficient sail to do anything with her in case of an accident happening to her machinery. She has about a nine‑foot stroke, and runs at the rate of ten to eleven miles an hour. Her stateroom accommodations are very poor, the bunks being very small and the staterooms of a size to match. We entered the Gulf at four, and there being a very fresh breeze from the southeast, considerable sea was on, and I after two hours endurance got seasick. As soon as I could, I turned into my bunk and went to sleep. Next morning, woke up feeling much better.

 p33  June 3. I was sick again after breakfast, but not so bad as before. We set some sail on the ship for the purpose of steadying her. We arrived at Galveston this evening about nine o'clock. The first thing that I did was to go up in the town and get a glass of ice cream which was better than we expected to get.

June 4. All our mules, forty‑six in number, and our seven horses, were landed today to make room for the people on board the ship to get at the goods stored in the lower hold. I have nothing to say of Galveston because I did not look over the town, it being too hot and I did not feel very well. We sailed again at four o'clock for Indianola.

June 5. Arrived today at six A.M. The distance between Indianola and Galveston is reckoned at one hundred and twenty miles.

June 6. Indianola is situated on Matagorda Bay.1 The general appearance of the town is extremely dreary. Surrounded as it is on three sides by the Gulf of Mexico, and the remaining connection is of white sand, as a matter of course no vegetation exists. The town contains about six hundred inhabitants whose general character would not appear very favorably, compared with some of our neat Pennsylvania villages. Nothing of importance has occurred today, only we have been busily employed setting up wagons and harnessing mules, preparatory to the start we shall make tomorrow. As we got the teams harnessed we drove them through Indianola, for the purpose of trying how they would go. Considering it was the first time, they went to our satisfaction. We are now encamped in the corral belonging to the United States, in the midst of our animals.  p34 I think I never was in a place where there abounded so many mosquitoes and so many flies.

June 7. We started this morning at eight o'clock bound for the Chocolate River. Mr. Beale gave me a jack to ride, and I left the wagons and rode in company with Messrs. Williams and King. It was the first time that I had seen the Prairies and my impressions are like those of a man who beheld, for the first time, the ocean. A feeling of insignificance and worthlessness I felt when I gazed over the wide expanse of land — and my eyes were opened to the magnificence of Almighty God. We got to the Chocolate River at twelve and at two the teams arrived. One of the men, a worthless fellow, got drunk and fell under the wheel, which passed over his leg and foot, injuring both considerably. Mr. Beale sent him home in the carriage in which he had come out from Indianola.

June 8‑11. I have been so busy that it has been impossible for me even to take notes of our journey. In this entry I shall carry the reader forward on my journey without reference to date. To commence, we left Chocolate and traveled through a very fine country, but destitute of water. No population can exist in this region except along the streams, which are invariably small and soon lost in the ground, making their appearance again in some hollow. The Manahuela2 is a striking instance of this peculiarity in Texas streams. In the wet season when the streams are full from the heavy rains, you see a noble stream of fifty yards in width. In the dry season nothing is visible save a few ponds of the most clear and beautiful drinking water.  p35 The bottom is of the same nature as that part of the Mississippi, where the immense influx of water is carried off by being filtered through the visible bottom into a submarine river, running for a distance of which no man can form an estimate. We would not at home, at this season of the year, call the Manahuela anything but a good-sized ditch. We had a most delicious bath. No one but those who have been traveling over a sandy track, in a broiling sun, can appreciate the luxury of a cool immersion. After leaving the Manahuela, for several miles, streams are in abundance, but from the time of leaving Cabasa,3 until you reach the Coto,4 the place where we are now encamped, water is extremely scarce. I met with an accident today. Riding my mule along very carelessly, being half asleep, she became suddenly startled, and commenced plunging in a most violent manner. I had a gun in my hand (at all times an unhandy implement on horseback) and, being taken entirely off my guard, I was thrown with great force to the ground, but not until the saddle had turned under me. I would advise all persons riding on strange mules or, indeed, any mules, to be constantly on the watch, because they can never be depended upon, under any circumstances. We saw this morning a herd of beautiful deer, grazing out upon the Prairie. They very quickly became aware of our approach and scurried away with that long easy canter for which they are celebrated.

June 12. I have been hunting all day for some mules which strayed from our camp this morning. Although the train of wagons left early in the morning, we did not leave  p36 camp until five in the evening. Once on the road, however, we traveled a distance of eleven miles in an hour and a half. We were informed at the place where we stopped, which was Mrs. Galway's, that the train had passed at one o'clock P.M. and was then encamped on the Lenwillow Creek. Mr. Beale decided to stop at Mrs. Galway's with the mules, and put them in the fine corral of this lady in question. We received orders to push forward to the camp, and in the morning to tell Mr. Heap to send Mr. Beale some money. We then took our departure. It rapidly grew dark, and very soon we were obliged to stop from the fast pace at which we were going, to a slow walk, in order not to lose the road. After riding about three miles we arrived at a house, and made inquiry as to the whereabouts of our camp. They informed us that they had passed onward and intended stopping at a place about nine miles distant. Here was a go but we knew that "faint heart never won fair lady" so we recommenced our journey, each moment growing darker and darker. Very soon we came to a stream in a hollow dark as the devil. I made a reconnaissance, and was convinced that we were at the ford. I put spurs to my mule and dashed in, and was very soon safe on the other side followed by my companions. After considerable difficulty in keeping the road, we reached our journey's end well satisfied. Ab5 gave us some supper, and very soon we were all fast asleep — in the "arms of Morpheus" — forgetting our toil "in Nature's sweet restorer."

 p37  June 13. Yesterday raised camp at five; our way lay over a splendid (road) but parching up by the excessive dryness. We can find neither grass nor water, two great necessaries to anyone traveling in Texas. It has been extremely dry, hot and sultry, although there is blowing a fresh breeze from the South. The inhabitants of the country say they scarcely ever have any other wind. Were it not for it, no one could remain in Texas. A man told me that if they did not soon get some corn, hard times would be experienced in the state. As it was they were using corn from New Mexico and New Orleans, for which they were obliged to pay from a dollar fifty to three dollars per bushel, and in consequence the poor Texans were beginning to suffer, although the whole population that had corn turned out and made equal division, an example which is worthy of imitation by all classes of all countries. Our barometer registers five hundred feet above the level of the ocean or tide-water.a We tonight had an occurrence in camp which filled us with regret. When we started this morning, Mr. Heap took charge of the train in the absence of both Mr. Beale, who was hunting strayed mules, and Mr. Smith, who was busily engaged in attending to some imperative duty, in the rear. Soon after leaving Mr. Smith rejoined, but remained behind in charge of the rear guard. After going about eighteen miles, we came to a steep hill or rather a deep valley, through which passed a stream of water. The first wagons (eight in number) passed safely over, and Mr. Heap thinking that the rest of would go over in the same way, gave orders to resume the march. The train re‑started and reached camp about three. When we had arrived a short time and cast loose all our animals, word was received from  p38 Mr. Smith that two teams had been unable to pass over the hill. Very soon after having received this intelligence Mr. Smith himself rode into camp and informed us that after immense labor, they had got through. About dusk the wagons arrived accompanied by Mr. Beale who was in a terribly bad humor. So much was he provoked that when Mr. Williams, the geologist of the expedition, said to him, "Mr. Beale, you look tired," he replied, "I am not tired, but most damnably disgusted." The few who heard this speech, at once knew that a storm was brewing somewhere, and got out of the way. Very soon he walked up to Mr. Heap and commenced speaking in a very harsh and ungentlemanly manner, telling him that he had not performed his duty as wagon master. Mr. Heap said that he "was not wagon master, and did not come on the expedition with any such intention." Mr. Beale continued speaking very harshly, and Mr. Heap finally said, "Sir, I will not submit to this. I resign my post tomorrow." This broke off the conversation and we are about to lose a man who is invaluable as an officer, and the assistant of Mr. Beale, and as a gentleman, a man of honor, and a friend. I regret this occurrence more than anything else I can remember. Everything seems to be going wrong, and it is my opinion, founded on the remarks of others, that the party will never get through. Distance traveled 24½ miles.

June 14. Left camp this morning at six. This morning quite cool, so much so, that I put on my overcoat until eight. Nothing of any consequence occurred today, until we reached the Salado, which we did at about eleven. Camped and turned the animals out to water and grass. Just after they were all grazing one wild devil took alarm, and struck  p39 for the road as hard as he could. No Mexican herders being near Mr. Beale ordered me to follow the animal until I caught it. He had reprimanded me very harshly for letting one get away two days ago, and I was determined if possible to secure the animal. We quickly had an animal saddled, and I mounted and dashed forward in pursuit. After a long chase, I finally succeeded in recapturing him, and bringing him safely into camp.

June 15. Nothing has occurred today worthy of mention. We have been encamped since yesterday on the Salado and we will remain until tomorrow morning. We are encamped only three miles from San Antonio, one of the most ancient cities in North America. Quite recently its vicinity was the scene of one of the most cold blooded butcheries, and one of the most heroic defences. I allude to the affair of the Alamo, where Col. David Crockett was murdered along with all but one man of his companions, but not until he had slain with his own hand twenty-three of his cowardly assassin cut‑throat Mexicans headed by the brigand, Santa Anna.

June 16. We broke camp at half past six, bound for Major Howard's ranch situated four miles northwest of San Antonio. About the time we were thoroughly underway, it commenced raining, where it had left off last night, and we had a shower which was sufficient to wet those who were not fortunate enough to procure their heavy coats. I had mine near, so I escaped. It did not continue more than half an hour. By this time San Antonio hove in sight and we were very agreeably disappointedº in finding a very pretty inland town built, of course, on the Spanish principle. As we approached we could see in the distance the old  p40 church of Alamo, wherein fell Bowie, Travis and Crockett. We halted in the Grand Plaza until further orders could be received from Mr. Beale, who has been staying for the last two days in the city. It rained again, and as a matter of course we got wet. Orders at last came to go forward, and we marched. Major Howard and Mr. Beale rode at the head of the train to pilot us to our camping ground, there not being one in the whole camp who new the road. We reached camp at twelve o'clock and found a very uninviting place for an encampment. It consisted of a barnyard covered with manure, a corral, and two or three negro huts, only one of which is used, and that by the old man in charge of the place. I received an invitation to go up to Camp Verde from Mr. Beale, but Mr. Smith wanting me I can not be able to go. The object of the trip is to bring the camels to this place, that we may more readily load them with the corn in our wagons.

June 17. As usual in cow yards this place is tenanted by fleas, in such marvelous quantities as to prevent a weary traveler from seeking the natural rest which God intended him to have. The little monsters penetrate into the folds of your woolen shirt, and remain quiet until you attempt to go to sleep, when they bring their batteries to bear, and woe be unto him who has not a thick hide. We were busy this morning filling sacks with corn to load the camels with whenever they arrive, which I pray may be soon as the camp which we are now in is exceedingly uninteresting, there being nothing to attract the stranger in the immediate vicinity. Ab, our cook, borrowed my gun today and made quite an addition to our larder, in the shape of two rabbits which, although out of season, go remarkably well,  p41 to one who has been living on salt victuals. We will have a steer tomorrow and we will then luxuriate in a beef steak once more.

June 18. We have been disappointed in not getting our steer. The Mexican who was sent in after it came back with a long story from the butcher, which ended in our not getting any beef. Tomorrow, if we have any kind of luck, we will most certainly have some fresh meat. Nothing has happened today worthy of mention — weather hot in the daytime, and quite cool at night. Level above the sea, seven hundred and fifty feet.

June 19. Not having anything for the men to do, we set them to work putting up the "Little Giant," a machine purchased in Cincinnati to grind corn. It is an admirable machine and every one who saw it in motion was delighted with its workings. No steer again today, although we sent the Mexican on to make full arrangements with the man, a negro, who had the matter in charge. I was in town myself and saw the fellow, and he promised faithfully to send him this evening. He did not come, however.

June 20. I rode into the city today for the purpose of buying some whiskey casks to carry water in, when we come to that region where water is so scarce. Strange to say I was not able to get even half the number we required in all San Antonio. I was much surprised. A city in which is consumed so much whiskey, could not furnish ten empty barrels. My friend Mr. Williams was also in town and met with an adventure. As he Washington alighting from his mule, before a drug store, an immense Texan came up to him, and slapped him quite familiarly on the back, exclaiming, "How are you, Breckenridge? I am d––––– glad to see  p42 you." "My name is not Breckenridge." "Well, you belong to the same Company." "Yes." "Well, let's go in and get a drink." "No, I do not wish anything. I have duties to attend to, and I am going to do them." "You are a saucy man, anyhow." "I can afford to be." "Got a six‑shooter there?" "Yes, and by God I know how to use it." "You're pretty spunky." "I came from a spunky place." "Where you from?" "From old Pennsylvania." "Come in then, and take a drink." "No, I won't." This impertinent fellow finally left, and our friend went about his business.

June 21. Sunday morning. This day was not ushered in by the ringing of Sunday School bells, nor did we see crowds of well-dressed genteel people walking about, but still this morning seemed like Sunday. It happened to fall to my lot to have the morning watch, that is, from two until four. I do not think I ever saw a more charming and delightful morning in the whole course of my life. Far off in the blue ether were visible the morning star and the comet,b each endeavoring to outshine the other in the brightness of their beams. Then as it grew later, a faint streak began to be visible in the East, and finally the sun rose above our limited horizon in a perfect blaze of living light. All this time, not a sound was heard, except the singing of the birds in the woods, when, all of a sudden, the clear martial notes of our morning bugle awakened many a sleepy eye. We did nothing all day, for once our camp appeared in a tranquil state. This afternoon I thought I would go to the creek close at hand, and wash some of the Texan sand off. Having two or three pairs of socks, a shirt and some handkerchiefs which were very dirty, I concluded to make Monday out of Sunday afternoon, and so I took  p43 my soap and my duds, and was soon engaged in the mysteries of washing. I think some of my friends would be surprised to see how neatly I wash. I do not iron, of course, but I could do it if I had the material and it was necessary.

Mr. Beale returned from Camp Verde yesterday. He was accompanied part of the way by the camels, but being anxious to push ahead, he left them in charge of Messrs. Bell and Porter. They were first taken to San Antonio and remained in the Quarter Master's yard until evening when they were brought out to our camp. The first intimation we had of their approach was the jingling of the large bells suspended from their necks. Presently, one, then two, three, four, until the whole twenty-five had come within range in the dim twilight. And thus they came, these huge ungainly beasts of the desert, accompanied by their attendants, Turks, Greeks and Armenians. Who would have thought, one hundred years ago, that now camels would be used on this Continent as beasts of burden? Our mules and horses were very much frightened at the approach of the camels. They dashed around the corral, with heads erect and snorting in wild alarm. They were so much excited, that the whole camp was aroused and put on watch. However, in a few hours they became more quiet, and all hands were sent to bed, except the regular guard, and soon the camp sank to silence broken only by the tread of the sentinels. It was a fine scene, and one calculated to awaken curious sensations in the breast of the observer. What are these camels the representation of? Not a high civilization exactly, but of the "go‑aheadness" of the American character, which subdues even nature by its energy and perseverance.

 p44  Monday, 22d. This morning we turned the camels into the corral with the mules and they were not so alarmed as we anticipated. In the course of a few days when they all get to going together, they will become accustomed to each other, and then we will have no longer any difficulty.

June 23. Tuesday. We received our sailing orders this morning, and at the same time were made acquainted with the fact that a new Wagon Master had been engaged who would relieve Mr. Smith of a part of his onerous duties. Mr. Smith instead of being simply Wagon Master will be General Superintendent of the camp, a post much more suited to his taste and abilities than the other.

June 24. Wednesday. All day the men have been busily engaged reloading the wagons, and arranging the packs to suit the camels. At about one the camp was taken (photographically) by a gentleman from San Antonio. We were not able to do much with our instrument and chemicals, and Mr. Beale determined to have a picture, which he could send home to the Secretary of the Interior. I am confident that when Mr. Williams and myself have acquired some little experience in the art, we will take as good pictures as anybody. Mr. Williams' duties as geologist will occupy much of his time, and, therefore, the duty upon me will be more arduous.

June 25. Thursday.6 The cooks were awakened at half past two this morning in order that they might provide breakfast at an early hour, so as not to detain the train from making an early start. Ab, our man, was quickly ready, and before daylight we were eating breakfast.  p45 There was much difficulty in gearing some wild mules which had been placed in the train, and so much time was consumed in preparing them for the teams, that we were not able to make a start until eight o'clock. The camels were not ready until much later; the men not being accustomed to loading, did not get all ready as quickly as they might have done. There is always much trouble and annoyance in restarting a train after it has been encamped for some days. The camels travel so very slow that they cannot keep up even with a six mule team — not generally very fast. We with the wagons got into camp at one, while the camels did not begin to arrive until four. It is my decided opinion that these camels will prove a failure, and I will give one reason for my belief. The camels which were imported into the U. S. came from the vicinity of Smyrna where they had been used to carry fruits, wine and other products of the country into the city. They never were loaded very heavily. The consequence is, that when they are brought here and loaded with corn weighing from five to six hundredweight, they fail to make any reasonable speed.7 We reached a place called San Lucas8 where we  p46 found a most magnificent spring. It is the finest water we have yet seen in Texas. A most splendid stream comes bubbling up through the ground with water so perfectly pure that it does not interfere with vision, and you can see the smallest pebbles that glisten at the bottom. Every man as he came up drank long and fast from this delicious cool water, and discontinued, not because the appetite was quenched, but because he had no further capacity for more. We found encamped at this spring a train consisting of two wagons and four men, who have just returned across the plains from California.9 They reported that the Indians had not molested them, but it was solely attributable to the vigilance of the guard which they kept over their effects. They said that the grass was not plentiful and water was a very scarce article; no buffalo on the Plains, but plenty of other game.

June 26. Friday. Hondo Creek Camp. Raised camp from the San Lucas Spring at five and a half o'clock. I was ordered forward to Castroville,10 to procure an iron plate to put upon one of the wagons which had been damaged. Accompanied by Mr. Williams I set out; just as we reached the elevation beyond the valley westwardly, the sun rose behind the earth in one mass of unclouded splendor. The scenery between San Lucas and Castroville is perfectly magnificent, fine slopes extending for miles, into rich valleys, tenanted by noble cattle, which I am sorry to say are suffering from the long drought. No man ever saw more beautifully laid land than that through which we have  p47 passed today. We reached camp on the Hondo at about two, having made a distance of twenty‑one miles.

June 27. Saturday. We quitted camp at a little after sunrise, and watered our animals at a mud hole, about four miles distant from last camp. Mr. Davis, accompanied by Mr. Bell, went out early in the hope of finding some deer. We overtook the men about eight (o'clock) seated under a tree. They had been unsuccessful much to our regret. They had one very far shot at four but missed. Camped at Comanche Creek, having made twenty‑two miles and nine hundred yards.11

June 28. Sunday. Nothing of importance today.12

June 29. We crossed the Nueces River about twelve, or rather we crossed the bed of the stream, there being no water except in the puddles. We were much surprised to see a country so fruitful as Texas must be under ordinary circumstances, so dry and parched; even the grass is found in small patches only, and then not enough to fill our hungry mules. However, our animals, in the space of six days hard travel averaging about twenty‑two miles, have not  p48 failed, and we conclude that if they can support the labor they now undergo without much failing we can get safely through to El Paso with our animals in good condition. Day's travel twenty-four ½ miles.13

June 30. The men are getting to work better and better every day. Owing to this we made an early start, and were on the road before sunrise. It was pleasant traveling in the cool of the morning, but by eleven o'clock it got intolerably hot. It gets very hot every day from ten until four, and then it gets cooler, and we spend very pleasant nights. I forgot to mention yesterday that a Company of United States Cavalry passed us near Turkey Creek, and encamped at the Spring which makes its head waters. They were a very hard looking party. They had been on scout after Indians for the last ten days, and were returning to Fort Clark, not having been successful in finding any. We reached Fort Clark14 at one today, and encamped on the Las Moras Creek just this side of the barracks which constitute the Fort. In the afternoon Mr. Williams and myself took a splendid bath in Turkey Creek finding water of the purest and most beautiful description. This country is all limestone formation, and of course the water is impregnated with that substance. After our bath we walked up into the Garrison to see the men muster in the evening. They not at that time being ready we looked around about a house that they are building out of limestone. While looking about, with his usual curiosity, Mr. Williams discovered an elegant specimen of Ammonite. He was much elated at his good fortune.


The Editor's Notes:

1 Near what is now Alamo Beach, Calhoun County.

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2 Manahuila Creek, which runs into the San Antonio River, in Goliad County.

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3 Cavesa.

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4 Cleto Creek.

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5 Ab Reading was an old colored man who lived for many years at Chester, making his living by hunting and fishing. He was a very good cook and acted in this capacity and as guide for parties of gentlemen when they went shooting on the Delaware. Ab was very fond of the three boys, Stacey, Joe Bell and Ham Porter.

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6 Beale's journal begins on this day, and will be referred to in the footnotes as Beale Report.

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7 Beale was not as discouraged as was Stacey. "This being the first day, and the animals not having performed any service for a long time, they seemed tired on our arrival at camp; but I hope, as we proceed, and they harden in flesh, to find them carrying their burdens more easily. Unfortunately, the only men in America who understand them, and who are thoroughly acquainted with the mode of packing and journeying with them, are some Turks who came over with them, and who left at San Antonio, refusing to go on so long a journey, and alleging that they had been treated badly by the government, not having received the pay due them since January. It seems the appropriation having been exhausted, no one is authorized to pay them, although they left their own country under special contract with officers of the government, and have performed their duties very faithfully." Beale Report, 15.

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8 Sixteen miles from San Antonio. The camels were each carrying a load of 576 pounds.

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9 One of these men was a Mr. McLanahan, "of California," who, said Beale, "followed on my trail, made in 1853, and carried through, with great success, thirteen wagons and a considerable amount of stock." Beale Report, 15.

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10 In Medina County, Texas.

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11 In his journal entry of June 27, Beale speaks of the beauty of the country through which the camel train was passing; particularly does he mention the luxuriant grass and flowers. The entire country "for stock-raising and grazing purposes of any kind . . . is decidedly the finest I have ever met with." Plenty of post oak and mesquite were to be found, and especially valuable was the bean of the post oak "which is eaten with the greatest avidity by (all quadrupeds), and is very sweet and nutritious. In the Great Basin, I have frequently eaten bread made by the Indians from this bean, and found it excellent. The pinole made from it is preferable to that of corn." Beale Report, 16.

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12 Camp was made about two miles west of the Rio Frio, near Uvalde, after a journey of twenty and a half miles. Speaking of the camels, Beale says on that day: "as soon as they arrive they are turned loose to graze, but prefer to browse on the mesquite bushes and the leaves of a thorny shrub, which grows in this country everywhere, to the finest grass. They are exceedingly docile, easily managed, and I see, so far, no reason to doubt the success of the experiment." Beale Report, 16.

[decorative delimiter]

13 Encamped on Turkey Creek, which runs through Zavalla and Uvalde counties. Beale Report, 16.

[decorative delimiter]

14 Near Brackettville, Kinney County, Texas.


Thayer's Notes:

a In the 19c, the barometer was commonly used as an instrument for determining altitude, although the variability of air pressure depending on weather had been noted as early as 1810. An excellent thorough historical overview of the methods used to determine altitude is given by Florian Cajori in "History of Determinations of the Heights of Mountains" (Isis, XII.3).

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b Venus was indeed a morning star on June 22: at geocentric longitude 49° (from PHP Science Labs) with the Sun at 91°, she was near her maximum elongation and gave plenty of time to Stacey to look at her before the Sun rose.

On the other hand the comet cannot be the famous Great Comet of 1857 (1857‑IV), which was only discovered on July 27; nor can it be Brorsen's Comet (1846‑III) when it returned in 1857 (as 1857‑II), since it had passed its perihelion in February 1857, its closest approach to Earth in March, and had faded beyond naked-eye visibility in late April. Comet 1857‑III was telescopically visible on June 21, although I've been unable to find a magnitude for it online or even to determine whether it was visible to the naked eye, and it does not seem to have made a big public splash at the time, as suggested by Stacey's "the comet". For the time being then, I'm classifying this as a mystery.


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Page updated: 7 Mar 16