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Mojave Desert History: Military & the Mojave Road

Camp Cady

historic photo of Camp Cady on the Mojave Road

Located about 20 miles east of Barstow, San Bernardino County, Camp Cady was posted on April 14, 1860, in compliance with an order by General N. .S. Clarke, by Major Carleton with Company K, 1st Dragoons, aggregating 80 men, near the Mojave River Road. The encampment was called Camp Cady for Major Albemarle Cady, 6th Infantry, then in command of Fort Yuma. For three months the Dragoons quartered themselves in temporary shelters of brush and mud or dugouts similar to those used later by the region's miners.

The makeshift quarters were finally replaced by permanent structures built by Army regulars. 'The post had a parade ground 300 yards square, with the buildings arranged along three of its sides. The buildings were of adobe, floored and shingle roofed, plastered out side and plastered and whitewashed inside. The officers' quarters was the only structure with ceilings. Camp Cady served as the base for a whole series of camps, redoubts, and forts along the Old Government Road to Fort Mojave and the Salt Lake Road, with campaigns waged against the Paiutes and Shoshones. The post was abandoned on April 24, 1871.

map of Camp Cady area
In 1868 the post was moved a half mile to the west.

The original Camp Cady "fortress" stood next to Government Road, was photographed in 1860's by R. D'Heureux. Army inspector in 1866 was not enchanted by desert area. "There is little probability of the post being long occupied," he reported. The country for miles around is not of such a character to induce any sane man to settle... The country is a desert and to my mind there is no possibility of it ever being settled." He found three officers and 63 enlisted men, noted district commander had "wisely" directed reducing post to 15 men to preserve the buildings and supplies enroute to Arizona-but this token force was not long maintained. Fortunately post quartermaster had no outstanding debts because he had only $2.50 on hand. Inspector recommended that meat ration be increased to make up for the fact that 450-pound cattle bought in Wilmington lost 100 pounds by the time they got to Cady.

Schedule for soldiers when living in barracks included reveille at 5 a.m., breakfast at 5:30, drill at 6:30, fatigue call at 7. Due to heat that hit 118 at times, men were permitted to rest from 10:30 to 2:30, with dinner at noon. Taps was at 9:30 p.m. Monotonous duty meant a full guardhouse, severely weakening tiny garrison. One man, an experienced soldier who had been in three Indian fights in as many weeks, still was bored, finally deserted. At least one soldier was knifed to death In fellow trooper and, in final years, soldiers broke into sutler's store, then burned it down. Commanding officer accused sutler of peddling cheap whiskey to men, ordered, "No man henceforth will receive more than one glass of wine or half bottle of ale in the same afternoon." After store was burned, owner sued post commander and, ultimately officer was dismissed from service.

The Camp Cady site today is bare of evidences of early use, flood in 1938 having washed away all adobe traces. Barracks and sutler store are in ruins, used for stock purposes; rocks mark hospital site. John Fremont was at site in 1844 and prepared for desert trip here. Three fatigued cattle were killed and their meat jerked. During stay, two Mexican refugees told him of being ambushed by 100 Indians at Resting Springs, to the north on the Las Vegas-Salt Lake City trail.


Camp Cady Chronology


Also see:

Major General James H. Carleton

John Charles Fremont

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