Jefferson Davis, later destined to lead the Confederacy, reluctantly accepted a place in the Cabinet of President Pierce in 1852, serving as US Secretary of War. On taking up the position, he must have been surprised to find that one outstanding matter awaiting his attention was a report by the deputy quartermaster of the US Army, Major Henry C. Wayne advocating the importation of camels as a means of freight for divisions serving on the US desert frontiers. Nevertheless, Secretary Davis took up the Quartermaster's camel request with vigour and lobbied the Senate and House for the $30,000 necessary to make it happen.
Resistance in the House meant it took a few years to get the money, but eventually Major Wayne sailed on a camel-buying expedition on 19 May 1855 and returned almost exactly a year later on 14 May 1856 with thirty four camels, one more than he left with; a calf successfully delivered during the voyage. More camel shipments followed and the ships of the desert were employed by the US Army around San Antonio and other far flung outreaches in Texas and Arizona.