Battlefield Dispatches #412
Wheels, Wagons, Horses & Mules, Part 1
[Image of Montgomery C. Meigs courtesy of the Library of Congress]
Recently, there has been a UPS ad that suggests that one of the main reasons for the company’s success and customer satisfaction is good LOGISTICS. This makes sense because Mr. Webster defines logistics as “The procurement, maintenance, distribution and replacement of personnel and material.” Hence, UPS and other such companies have a very successful distribution system that is based on rapid delivery and transportation. During the Civil War or for that matter in any war, the success of an army in the field or on campaign depended on successful logistics or being supplied with the necessary material to wage war. The major organization that accomplished this was the Quartermaster Department. The following Quartermaster Report is located on Pages 570-571 in Series I, vol. 53 of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion and describes the amount of supplies issued and transported to various locations in the Department of Kansas for one year.
Fort Leavenworth, September 21, 1863
General M. C. Meigs,
Quartermaster General, U. S. Army,
Washington, D. C.
General: In obedience to instructions contained in your General Orders, No. 13, of July 22, 1863, I have the honor to report that during the year [starting on July 1, 1862 &] ending on the 30th of June, 1863, I was stationed at this place, attending to the various duties pertaining to the Quartermaster’s Department at this Depot.
During the year I have promptly furnished the necessary transportation for all the troops, subsistence, quartermaster’s, ordnance and medical stores required for all the troops serving in Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, the Indian Country west of the State of Arkansas as far south as the Arkansas River, the two western tiers of counties of the State of Missouri north of the 38th parallel and south of the Missouri River and the western tier of counties of the States of Missouri and Arkansas south of the 38th parallel and to the Arkansas River.
With railroads and water communications , the supply of the section of the country referred to would be a small undertaking, but the magnitude and labor of duties I have performed can be better understood when you recollect that the troops scattered over this vast extent of country have been supplied by COMMON ROAD WAGONS OVER UNIMPROVED ROADS, OBSTRUCTED BY HIGH WATER IN SUMMER AND BY THE ICE IN WINTER and the most of them passing through a perfect wilderness, where there is no forage or other supplies except grass.
I say this is no small undertaking when you take the above circumstances into consideration, together with the DISTANCES of the POINTS to be SUPPLIED from this DEPOT. That you may understand this, I will give you some of the principal points to which I have had to send large quantities of supplies and their distances from this Depot, with the weight of the stores sent to each, viz:
Post or Station
|Miles from Ft Leavenworth
||Stores Transported (lbs.)
|Salt Lake City, Utah Territory
|Fort Union, New Mexico
|Fort Laramie, Nebraska
|Fort Lyon, Colorado
|Fort Larned, Kansas
|Fort Kearny, Nebraska
|Fort Scott, Kansas
|Fort Gibson, Cherokee Nation
|To Other Posts and Stations
There was shod at this Depot during the year 11,101 mules, and 5,058 Horses; 2,500 wagons and ambulances have been repaired in the shops under my charge. In addition to my other duties I have conducted two very large Government Farms on which was cultivated and secured for the use of your department 2,200,000 pounds of Timothy Hay, 749 Bushels of Corn, 650 Bushels of Oats, besides furnishing pasturage for a large number of public animals. The repair of tents, wagon covers, harness, tent poles, & etc., I have no count of, but they have been large.
Transportation has been furnished for the supplies and equipage of a large number of troops moving from one point to another. Means furnished was Government Wagons which returned to this Depot and I have no account of the number of troops so transported. Their means of transportation, clothing, equipage, & etc., have been excellent and the character of their artillery and cavalry horses superior.
I hope at least to obtain credit for industry, attention to duty and at all times having the best interest of the service in view and laboring constantly to that end.
Very Respectfully, Your Obedient Servant,
L. C. EASTON,
Major and Quartermaster, U. S. Army.
Now then it appears according to the above chart that “8,106,501” pounds of military supplies were shipped to Fort Scott and Fort Gibson between July 1, 1862 and June 30, 1863. How much of this actually remained in Fort Scott is unknown because it was a transient post for supplies en route to Fort Gibson, Indian Territory. However, a large portion was probably used to supply Fort Scott and its’ surrounding posts in Kansas and Missouri.