Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
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,
by Colonel Herbert
M. Hart, USMC (retired)
Council on America's Military Past
"Half a days pull
through heavy sandy and gravelly wastes brought us to this God-forsaken
Botany Bay of a place," wrote Elliott Cones when he visited
Camp Cady in 1865, "the meanest I ever saw for a military
station, where four officers and a handful of men manage to exist
in some unexplained way in mud and brush hovels."
The comparison of Cady
to the notorious Australian convict colony was apt, although
not calculated to raise the morale of the troopers manning the
desolate outpost. It had been built in early 1860 by then Major
Carleton at the site of a "Depot on the Mojave," a
temporary camp of the preceding September.
Carleton's men had no intention of staying at the spot and were
content to live in a scattering of adobe and brush huts, half
underground dugout style. There was a central building which
could lay some claim to fortress like attributes, a 40-foot adobe
square that stood man-high and was surrounded by a ditch.
From here, Carleton vigorously
scoured the countryside for traces of Indian marauders. Surgeon
Jonathan Letterman, the originator of the Army's ambulance service
and after whom Letterman Army Medical Center was named was with
Carleton at the time.
An officer "killed
two Indians on the 19th in the mountains southwest of our camp,"
Letterman later wrote. "In the affray two men were seriously
wounded, one in the neck and one in the abdomen, by the Indians.
Both are doing well, but the one wounded in the abdomen is not
out of danger yet." The Los Angeles Star carried news of
a Carleton expedition in May, 1860 in which he destroyed a Piute
rancheria 50 miles from Cady, bringing away several trophies
highly prized by the Indians." A civilian teamster was missing
"and it supposed that he was killed by the Indians. These
Piutes must get a thorough drubbing."
Rather than a drubbing,
Carleton held a peace conference at Camp Cady with 24 Piutes
spokesmen, one of them a woman. He told them that the white man
and his "Great Father" was powerful and wanted to be
a friend of the Indians. The chiefs agreed, gave their pledges,
took their gifts, and, for the moment, keep the peace. Camp Cady
Two years later the post
was temporarily reactivated, but this time as an early warning
outpost against feared Confederate attack. Orders were issued
on April 5, 1862 for an 11-man detail to to to Camp Cady "and
there shelter yourself and party in a field-work which was thrown
up at that point by Colonel Carleton two years since. It is reported
that there is a large body of men east of Beale's Crossing on
the Colorado River, and it is possible, though not probable,
that they will attempt to enter California by the Mojave route."
"The object of sending
you to Camp Cady is to give the colonel commanding timely notice,
if such be their purpose, and to send to him any intelligence
which you may receive of their movements. By putting your men
and animals inside of the work, spies or a small number of scouts
from such a party, coming up the river, would not know of your
presence until they come so close that their escape would be
The officer commanding
the detail was told to stay out 11 days, "when if you receive
no intelligence of the body of men alluded to above, you will
return by easy marches to your proper station."
A month later, the patrol
was back. It had stayed at Cady from April 14 to 24 "seeing
and hearing of nothing unusual." Enroute they had heard
of wagon loads of powder and small groups of armed men moving
on other routes, but their direction was generally northeasterly,
and did not seem to pose a threat to California.
The Indian depredations finally caused Cady to return to the
official orders on July 26, 1864. Captain John C. Cremony and
his B Company of the Second California Cavalry were ordered to
patrol from Cady to Rock Springs and "to protect travel,
clear the road of thieving, troublesome Indians." A year
later, the murder of two men 18 miles from the post, and activities
of Indians who "come down from the mountains on either side
of the road, steal stock, rob houses, lay forced tribute on travelers,
threaten lives" forced the reopening of Camp Cady by a company
They were told to maintain
a camp guard of 15 men. "The balance of the men will patrol
the road constantly ... keeping it clear ... and particularly
to keep Indians away from the watering places," was the
guidance to the first detail sent out in March, 1865.
While reestablishing the
post, three soldiers were wounded and government stores burned
in an Indian attack. The camp was officially reactivated on April
23, 1865, when Company C, 4th California Volunteer Infantry arrived.
They manned Cady until July, 1866, rebuilding its collapsed buildings.
"The quarters are made entirely of brush and are intended
for shelter from the sun only." wrote an observer.
On January 10, 1866, Inspector
Brevet Brigadier General C. A. Whittier visited the post. "Great
credit is due to Captain West for the construction of neat and
comfortable houses with the means at his disposal save the adobe
and at no expense to the government Whittier reported, "for
the cleanliness and good order prevailing through the camp and
for the care of his command and general good administration of
The following day, the
Cady garrison was officially commended by General McDowell for
building 35 adobes at the post.
An attempt was made to
abandon the camp in 1866, but public and political pressure was
too great. Hardly was the post back in business again when a
party of Indians approached the fort in a hostile demonstration.
Twenty troopers charged after them. Five soldiers were killed
in an ambush set up in the dense undergrowth along the river.
In the aftermath, a posse
arrived from San Bernardino to reinforce the fort and chase the
Indians, but the enemy had disappeared.
Attacks continued on the
road. With requirements for pursuit patrols and train escorts,
upwards of 120 men manned the fort at times.
In 1868 the post was moved
a half mile to the west. Here was sufficient level ground for
a parade field, something missing at the first cramped site.
A more formal post was built in a rectangle, but a year later
the garrison was cut to a token force. By this time, the trail
was known as the "Old Government Road" for it had been
supplanted by a more direct and safer route.
In 1871 the buildings
were sold to civilian men. The mission was finished and the unsentimental
Army no longer had any use for shanties. reported to "be
of adobe and . . . of little value."
TO GET THERE:24 miles
north of Barstow take Harvard Road from I-15, go south 0.8 miles
and turn left at Cherokee Road. Go East 2.6 miles to end of fence,
South 0.75 mile to north bank of the Mojave River
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.
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
This 1964 photograph shows
part of the original barracks used as a stock barn. 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.
Quartermaster and Commissary
This is how Camp Cady
looked after it was moved in 1868 in order to give it parade
ground. It measured 360 yards east to west and 300 north to south.
All buildings "are of adobe, floored, and shingle-roofed,
plastered outside and plastered and whitewashed inside,"
surgeon reported in 1869. "The officers' quarters is the
only building coiled. . . . The barrack building is 86 by 26
by 12 feet, but has the northwest and southeast corners partitioned
off as temporary dispensary and saddler's shop respectively.
It is heated by stoves when necessary, lighted and ventilated
by 12 windows and three doors. . . . The officers' quarters is
one building, 36 by 18 feet, divided by a hall into two rooms.
This a wing in rear, 14 by 12 feet, and a small out-house kitchen.'
Surgeon and his family lived in guardhouse, by 18-foot two-room
building. Hospital tent was used prisoners. So-called "hangman's
tree" was next to the guardhouse house, but there is no
record of it being used. Each building had double slanting shingle
roof and floors, a far cry from first fort. Rock foundations
were quarried four miles away and hauled to site. Soldiers did
all construction, used 35,000 adobe bricks, 32,000 feet of lumber,
30,000 roofing shakes. No permanent bunks were in barracks because
men were on alert to move at moment's notice, but 30 temporary
bunks were made by soldiers on which to put their bed sacks.
There was no hospital; hospital at first camp was used. Before
post was abandoned, second officers' quarters was added, according
to 1872 report. (Redrawn from plate in National Archives.)
This page was
reprinted with permission from Old Forts of the Far West,
published in 1965