By the end of the American Civil War, the US was efficiently provisioning as many troops as we supplied in the First World War.

by Daniel Russ on December 9, 2012


US Civil War Steam Train



Union Army was a finely tuned machine by late 1863, and Quartermaster General Montogomery C. Meigs had successfully provisioned not only the Army of the Potomac, but Union outfits stretching from Texas in the West to Virginia. Not only that, he was successfully provisioning large complicated Army Corps that were laying siege to Richmond and Petersburg.  Meigs had transformed City Point, Virginia into one of the largest and busiest supply ports in the world. Forty steamers, seventy sailing ships, and a hundred barges brought all the armamentarium needed per day.


Ammunition, powder, dry in kegs, shaving razors, thread, buttons, wound dressing, clothing, shoes, wagon wheels, leather, saddles, horse brushes, tobacco, sugar, corn, sow belly, hardtack, anything you could think that an army of men would need was coming into the theater in the Civil War.


Trains in good working order behind Grant’s lines at Appomattox were bringing in cannons, cannon balls, and shot, were running furiously taking supplies to the war, and wounded away from the war. Most of the wounded had to be first gathered a huge ten thousand bed hospital.


The Union was larger and richer and more powerful in about every way a country can hold advantage over another country. Even when General Hood’s soldiers tore up twenty seven miles of rail track in a spectacular raid, the Union Railroad Construction Corps repaired the track in 7 days. The Union railroad network was actually bringing supplies in and out of the theater of operations at a rate comparable to the rate of railways in World War I and World War II. This really makes the American Civil War the first example in the world of a massively resupplied army corps with massive railway networks.



United States Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs


Source: The Civil War Times.National Historical Society. William C. Davis and Bell I Wiley. Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers. 1998.




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