The Douglas Archives

A collection of historical and genalogical records

Old Douglas was the mascot of Company A, of the 43rd Mississippi Infantry.

The idea of U.S. military camels was the brainchild of Jefferson Davis. In 1855, when he was Secretary of War for President Franklin Pierce, he arranged for the formation of a Camel Corps near San Antonio.

Davis surmised camels would be better equipped to carry supplies in the western deserts than horses or mules. He also thought camels would be of more use on southern farms than oxen or mules. His assertion may have been correct, but secession and the Civil War ended the experiment.

No one knows how, but Old Douglas came to Mississippi. Douglas was given to Col. William H. Moore by Lt. William Hargrove of Company B. Moore assigned Douglas to the regimental band. He carried instruments and knapsacks.

During Maj. Gen. Sterling Price’s 1862 campaign at Iuka, Douglas spooked the regimental horses, causing a stampede in the 43rd Mississippi camp. Douglas served in campaigns with Price, Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn at Corinth and Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton when the 43rd Mississippi was ordered to Vicksburg. Southern soldiers became used to the sight of Douglas, and the 43rd Mississippi was often referred to as the “Camel Regiment.”

During the siege of Vicksburg, Douglas fell victim to a Union sharpshooter as he was grazing in a field. Due to Major Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s siege, many of the soldiers along the Southern line were starving.

So the fallen Douglas was cooked and fed to the men of his regiment.

At Cedar Hill Cemetery in Vicksburg, a tombstone with the distinctive “Confederate point” stands in honor of Old Douglas. The marker is close to the section of the cemetery reserved for Confederate soldiers.

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