Quartermaster sergeants question

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Flippin, Arkansas (near Yellville)
#1
Hello everybody, I was wondering if someone could explain to me the relationship between the company quartermaster sergeants, regimental quartermaster sergeants etc. with the larger Quartermaster Department. Obviously a quartermaster sergeant is going to be organic to the unit he's a part of but did he ultimately answer to the Quartermaster Dept. or have some kind of relationship with them? Clearly he was fulfilling the quartermaster role in the unit he was organic to but did he communicate or anything with the Quartermaster Dept. in Washington D.C.? Many thanks to whoever clears this up for me.
 

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DaveBrt

Sergeant Major
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#2
Hello everybody, I was wondering if someone could explain to me the relationship between the company quartermaster sergeants, regimental quartermaster sergeants etc. with the larger Quartermaster Department. Obviously a quartermaster sergeant is going to be organic to the unit he's a part of but did he ultimately answer to the Quartermaster Dept. or have some kind of relationship with them? Clearly he was fulfilling the quartermaster role in the unit he was organic to but did he communicate or anything with the Quartermaster Dept. in Washington D.C.? Many thanks to whoever clears this up for me.
My information is from the Confederacy, but they used US rules, so the answer is likely the same.

The real Quartermaster was the Captain at the regiment. He had obtained a bond and was therefore able to buy, make contracts and pay bills. He was approved by the QM General in Richmond and assigned by the A&IG on the QMG's request. The sergeants were soldiers assigned by the army unit to be his assistants, but were not in any way appointed by the QMG. I have never seen a letter or voucher signed by a unit QM sergeant.

The sergeants provided the manpower to do the QM's work. If fodder was to be issued to a unit (battery or cavalry company), the QM officer would be responsible for being sure the fodder was ordered, received and accounted for up through issue. The people who actually did the issuing of the fodder was the sergeant, under the Captain's direction.
 
Joined
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Flippin, Arkansas (near Yellville)
#3
O.K. that makes sense to me. One more question: From what I understand there were company QM sergeants with one "tie" above the chevrons, and regimental QM sergeants with three ties. Was there one with two ties above the chevrons or was there no real call for that rank?
 

Tom Elmore

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#4
In all the primary accounts that I have collected concerning Gettysburg the regimental quartermaster sergeant is very rarely mentioned. At the brigade level, the clerk gets more press. Here is what Confederate Major W. Edgeworth Bird, QM of Benning's brigade, said about it: "It takes a long time for men to become familiar with the duties of clerk in the Q.M. Department. They are intricate and troublesome; there are so many forms."

There are similar forms to deal with at the regimental level, but it would seem the regimental quartermaster sergeant was more involved with the more mundane hands-on aspects of the job as DaveBrt noted, to include clothing issues, overseeing repairs to wagons and other vehicles, and perhaps managing the regimental teamsters, which might explain why so few mentions are made about them or their work.
 

Tom Elmore

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#6
Were the teamsters who drove the supply wagons part of the Quartermaster Dept. since (I think) that dept. controlled all wheeled vehicles at least at first?
That is my understanding. Even if a wagon hauled food for the men or cooking utensils under the direction of the commissary department, the wagon itself was the responsibility of the quartermaster department, including the horses or mules that pulled it. Same thing for ambulances; on a battlefield their movements were directed by the medical department, but the vehicle itself and team were under the quartermaster department.

As of spring 1863 in the Eastern theater, a Confederate brigade quartermaster had to share a four-horse wagon with the brigade commissary, and their personal baggage was limited to 65 pounds each (Letters of Thomas Claybrook Elder, Commissary, Florida Brigade).
 

DaveBrt

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Charlotte, NC
#7
Were the teamsters who drove the supply wagons part of the Quartermaster Dept. since (I think) that dept. controlled all wheeled vehicles at least at first?
It was like with artillery -- the guns were owned by the Ordnance Department, but after being assigned to a battery, they were controlled by the fighting force, not the staff force.

The Confederate Quartermaster Department eventually contained the Railroad Bureau, The Paymasters, the Quartermasters and the Field Transportation men. All the men were Quartermasters, but they rarely worked outside their field.
 



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