Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Originally located here in September 1859
was the temporary Depot on the Mojave River. A Dragoon post to
guard against Piute attacks was later established here in April
1860 with temporary brush shelters or mud dugouts used for only
three months. Permanent adobe buildings were later built in 1868,
arranged around a 300-yard square parade ground located about
one-half mile west from the original site. Became a major base
of operations throughout the Mojave Desert for several military
posts established along the Old Government Road to Fort Mohave,
AZ and the Salt Lake Road. Located on the Mojave River, about
20 miles east of Barstow.
NOTE: "Mojave" is generally spelled with a "J"
west of the Colorado River, and spelled with an "H"
east of the Colorado River. Both are pronounced the same.
by Robert B. Roberts
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,
Encyclopedia of Historic
Forts: The Military, Pioneer, and Trading Posts of the United
by Justin Ruhge
Camp Cady was located about 20 miles east
of Barstow, San Bernardino County. General N. S. Clarke posted
it on April 14, 1860 in compliance with an order. Major James
Carleton opened the Camp with Company K, 1st Dragoons with about
80 men. It was located near the Mojave River Road.
The post 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 post was abandoned and then later reestablished
with permanent buildings and a wall and ditch fort.
The new post had a parade ground 300 yards
square, with buildings arranged along three of its sides. The
buildings were made of adobe like the missions and the Spanish
Forts. The floors were paved and the roofs were covered with
shingles. The walls were finished with plaster both inside and
out and whitewashed inside. The officer's quarters were also
finished with a ceiling. Camp Cady was located at the junction
of the road to Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. It served as a base
for a number of camps and redoubts during the campaign against
the marauding Paiutes and Shoshones Native Americans who were
murdering miners and settlers, stealing horses, burning buildings
and attacking the mail riders. The route from San Bernardino
and Los Angeles to the Arizona mines was through this territory.
As many as 2,000 freight wagons per year passed through these
desert territories. After eliminating the threat to commerce,
the camp was abandoned on April 24, 1871 and was sold to stockmen
on the Mojave River.
Many units were stationed at Camp Cady
over the ensuing years. The location was often unpleasant due
to high temperatures, dust storms and monotony. However, duty
on the trail as escorts was very rough and dangerous.
The definitive history on Camp Cady was
published in March 1954 in the Historical Society of Southern
California Quarterly. It was entitled The History of Camp Cady,
The Early History of a Desert Water Hole, by Leonard Waitman.
From it, one gets a good idea of the grim life of desert warfare.
A letter from Lieutenant Eyre, commander of Camp Cady, on June
27, 1867 gives the reader a vignette of this life: "I have
the honor to report that the express mail rider who left here
Saturday, the 22nd of June and Pvt. Donavan and Western, Company
K, 14th Infantry, escort to the same, were fired upon at Marl
Springs by a party of some 20 Indians armed only with bows and
arrows. The men charged upon them, using their revolvers. One
Indian who was believed to be the Chief "Hualapais Charley"
and a squaw were shot. The rest fled. The mail rider, I am informed,
scalped both. I am inclined to believe that if the men had stopped
to dismount and used their muskets, they would have lost the
horses and most probably their lives. I find that one trip of
escort duty rubs and wears the stock of a musket and injures
it far more than several months use even at the risk of being
deemed importunately troublesome, again to request that from
10 to 20 carbines or Spencer rifles may be sent me. "
In a very real sense Camp Cady became
the "Gibraltar of the Desert." It was to the traveler
of the desert what the lighthouse was to the seafarer - a guidepost
to safety. Besides affording protection for the travelers, freighters,
and herders, the camp was a major link of the mail route running
between Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Prescott, Arizona.
During the Civil War the Camp was garrisoned
by the California Volunteers, who carried on the duties of the
regulars, just as their counterparts did in the north, as well
as checking for subversive elements in the desert area. Their
efforts contributed to the growth of Southern California. Today
Camp Cady is non-existent except for a lone tree in the middle
of what once was the parade ground.
From Camp Cady a series of redoubts and
way stations were set up along the Old Spanish Road to Fort Mojave
at the locations of springs in the desert. Horses were corralled
and changed at these locations. Bitter Springs was on the road
to Las Vegas while Marl Spring,
Soda Spring, Rock Spring and Piute Spring were on the road to
Needles and Fort Mojave. Some of these were just tent camps while
others had a stonewall or redoubt where soldiers could enclose
themselves against Native American assaults. All of these camps
were occupied for short durations and were abandoned in the late
1860s when the Native American assaults ended.
Springs was located five miles
east of present Tecopa, San Bernardino County. The desert outpost
was intermittently occupied during 1859 to 1860 by regular troops
to protect a waterhole on the Old Spanish Trail between Las Vegas
and the Mojave River. The springs were the scene of a Native
American massacre in 1844, which was later avenged by Kit Carson
and Alexander Godey of Fremont's Expedition. A Mormon mail train
was attacked here in 1854. There are still evidences of a stone
redoubt and a corral at the site.
Springs redoubt was located on the Salt Lake Road in the
Mojave Desert, San Bernardino County. Bitter Springs was a sub
post of Camp Cady. Major Carleton who waged a campaign against
the Paiutes and Shoshones in the early 1860s established Bitter
Springs. Bitter Springs is 20 miles west of Baker on the Fort
Irwin Military Reservation. Permission to visit and directions
to the site must be obtained from the Army at Fort Irwin.
Spring was an official Army post
in the Mojave Desert on the road from Camp Cady to Fort Mojave,
Arizona, located near Kelso, San Bernardino County. It was established
on December 30, 1866. Post returns reveal that Lieutenant L.
H. Robinson, 14th Infantry with Company E, commanded the post
from March 16, 1867 until January 2, 1868, after which it was
maintained until May 21, 1868 as a small intermittently occupied
outpost of Camp Cady.
Camp Soda Springs was a desert camp variously named for the dry
soda lake in its vicinity. It was first established south of
Baker, San Bernardino County in the spring of 1860 by men of
the 1st Dragoons and called Hancock's redoubt. Later, in the
spring of 1867, an outpost was maintained there for a few weeks.
Then, beginning on August 21, 1867, the site was manned almost
continuously as an outpost of Camp Cady. The Army abandoned it
on May 23, 1868.
Loaf was a temporary desert camp
established in 1858, west of Barstow adjacent to the Mojave River
in San Bernardino County.
Horse Soldier Forts of the Mojave Desert by Leonard Waitman presents a good overview of
these spring redoubts. It was published in the Spring, 1968 edition
of the Quarterly of the San Bernardino County Museum Association.
Camp Rock Spring California by Dennis G. Casebier 1973
is another in-depth history of the desert spring redoubts.
by Colonel Herbert M.
Hart, USMC (Retired)
"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
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.
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.
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