View single post by Hellcat
 Posted: Sat Mar 24th, 2012 07:39 am
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Root Beer Lover

Joined: Tue Nov 15th, 2005
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There is an article on quartermasters in general in the Encyclopedia of the American Civil War, edited by David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler, which discusses both Federal and Confederate Quartermaster Departments, half the article is about the Federal Quartermaster's Department and the other it's Confederate counterpart. The article does say that the provision of food was not the responsibility of the Quartermaster's Department bu rather the Office of the Commissary General of Subsistence. The article does redirect to articles on Alexander Lawton, Logistics, Mongomery Meigis, and Abraham Myers. Myers and Lawton being the Quartermaster Generals of the Confederacy so those articles would be worth checking out.

The logistics article can be summed up by:

Underderstanding the significance of logistics in the in the Civil War requires inclusive definition. The process of logistis includes: (1) supply, which entails determining military requirements and then procuring, maintaing, storing, and distributing those requirements; (2) transportation, which entails the moving of troops and equipment; (3) evacuation and hospitalization, which entails moving and treating sick and wounded troops; and (4) service, which entails administration and communications. The Civil War reveals the degree to which logistics increasingly became a major feature of modern war. It can be argued that the conflict's outcome was decided as much in railroad yards or by commissary officers as it was on battlefields or by generals.

 So that gives some idea on what you get from the article. Again about half the article is on Confederate logistics and the other half on Federal logistics.


There's also a commissary article which explains that Lucius Northrop (wonder if he's any relation to Jack Northrop who founded the Northrop Corporation in '39) was the  Commissary General of the Confederacy from Feb. 1861 to Feb 1865 (the article again redirects to an article on Northrop).

Philip Katcher has a little on the Confederate Quartermaster's and Commisary Deparments in his The Complete Civil War. Not much really, just a little description of what they were and who was in charge. It does mention that Northrop's removal was because of widespread hunger of the troops in the field and that he was replaced by Issac St- John.

The Library of Congress Civil War Desk Reference has a little the Quartermast's and Commisary departments. There's a chart on pages 394 and 395 listing who ran various departments for both sides (CiC, Secretary of War, SECNAV, General in Chief, etc.) and on the two departments I've been discussing it says of their role:


Subsistence/Commissary Department

Responsible for supplying the armed forces with food.

Quartermaster Department

Responsible for furnishig the armies with all their supplies--excluding the ordnance and subsistence departments. Transportation, housing, clothing, horses, fuel, and stationery were among the materials supplied by this department.

Aside from the names of who headed the departments and the dates they held that position that's all you get for any kind of description of the departments. The book does talk about the Federal Ambulance Corps being a division of the Quartmaster's Department, views held by the Federal Quartermater's Department on repeating rifles, and the Federal Ballon Corps being transferred to the Quartermaster's Department in March 1862, but that's not really discussing the Department itself.

Garry Fisher discusses a little about army rations in his Rebel Cornbread and Yankee Coffee: Authentic Civil War Cooking and Camaraderie. It's not terribly much, but if your interested in what the soldiers in the field were fed it may be something to check out. On the rations note The Civil War Handbook by William H. Price, notes that the Army of Northern Virginia in 1863 issued the following, which is per 100 men for a thirty day period: 
  • 1/4 lb. of bacon
  • 18 ounces of flour
  • 10 pounds of rice
  • a small amount of peas and dried fruit when obtainable
Going back to The Library of Congress Civil War Desk Reference we get that  Confederate General S.D. Ramseur reported soldiers in his brigade recievied an eighth to a fourth of a pound of uncooked meat and 1 1/8 pounds of flour per day in December. In January they apparently got a slight improvement on the meat, rising to a fourth to a half pound of meat but only a pint of cornmeal. This was for the winter of 1863-1864.

William C. Davis's A Taste for War would also be good for getting rations and the distribution thereof.

Last edited on Wed May 30th, 2012 08:09 am by Hellcat

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