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THE FORMATION OF CAMEL CORPS IN THE US AND HACI ALİ (HI JOLLY), AN OTTOMAN CAMEL DRIVER

Abstract

Author(s): Ali SÖNMEZ

After the Mexican-American War in 1846-1848, the United States gained a vast territory called the Mexican cession that included the modern states of Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. With the discovery of gold in California in 1849 the US had to cope with “the California Golden Rush” when large numbers of Americans moved to the new state. To construct new railroads, to move supplies and to settle the newly acquired territory entailed travelling across North America. One of the solutions was to use camel that is called Ship of Desert. With the approval of the Congress, an American delegation headed by Henry C. Wayne travelled to the Ottoman Empire in 1855-6 and purchased more than 70 camels and formed the US Camel Corps. used as pack animals in the Southwestern United States, the camels were sold at auction after the Civil War. The US delegation also hired eight Ottoman citizens who were camel drivers and trainers. Of these trainers, the most famous was Hac? Ali, the son of a Greek mother and Syrian father. Ali worked as a camel driver camel driver for the US Army for several years. Since the Americans could not pronounce his name “Hac? Ali”, they called him Hi Jolly. Toward the end of his life, Ali settled in Quartzsite where he died in 1902. In time he became a legend and in 1936 a monument (Hi Jolly Monument) was dedicated to Hadji Ali and the Camel Corps in the Quartzsite Cemetery. In addition a festival is held for him on January 10 every year

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