THE QUARTERMASTER'S DEPARTMENT-DUTIES
By CAPTAIN OSCAR F. LONG, A. Q. M., U. S. ARMY.
[see source at http://www2.army.mil/cmh-pg/books/R&H/R&H-QM.htm]
The Quartermaster's Department provides the means of transportation by land and water for troops and materials of war for the army. It also provides the means of transportation for ordnance and ordnance stores issued by the United States to the several states and territories, and is charged with the duty of purchasing and transporting the quartermaster's stores and equipage for the militia. Upon proper requisition it also transports the property of other executive departments. It provides wagons, ambulances, carts, saddles and horse equipments (except for the cavalry), and harness (except for the artillery).
It also provides vessels for water transportation, builds wharves, constructs and repairs roads for military purposes and builds bridges. Provides and distributes clothing, tents and equipage, and band instruments to the army, and clothing and equipage to the militia. Supplies tableware and mess furniture, fuel, forage, stationery, blank books, lumber, straw for bedding for men and animals, and all materials for camps and for shelter of troops and stores, furniture for barracks, such as bunks, chairs, tables and lockers, heating and cooking stoves, heating and cooking apparatus for use in public barracks and quarters, equipments of bake houses for post bakeries, tools for mechanics and laborers in the Quartermaster's Department, lights, water supply and sewer systems for all military posts and buildings. It hires, purchases and builds barracks, quarters, storehouses and hospitals, provides by hire or purchase grounds for military encampments and buildings, supplies periodicals and newspapers to post libraries. Contracts for horses for cavalry and artillery, cares for and maintains the national cemeteries, and prepares and settles accounts for telegraphing on army business.
The work in the Quartermaster General's office, under its present organization, is distributed among the different branches as follows:
This branch has charge of matters relating to the procurement and distribution of funds, the compilation and preparation for Congress of the annual estimates of funds for the service of the Quartermaster's Department, and for funds required for the Quartermaster General's office ; the examination of estimates of funds received from disbursing officers, and the issue of requisitions in favor of such disbursing officers; the action upon settlements made at the Treasury of claims and accounts pertaining to the Quartermaster's Department ; the abstracting of weekly and monthly statements of funds for comparison with the Treasury records, and the conducting of the necessary correspondence, and the keeping of the prescribed records and necessary memorandum books connected with the foregoing.
B. Money and Property.
The duties of this branch are the administrative examination of the money accounts and returns of quartermaster's stores rendered by officers serving in the Quartermaster's Department, before their transmission to the accounting officers for final action. It also takes action on certificates of deposit of funds pertaining to the appropriations for the Quartermaster's Department, received from sales to officers and soldiers, sales at auction and other sources, and upon boards of survey and inventory and inspection reports of quartermaster's stores no longer fit for issue or use.
C. Clothing and Equipage.
In this branch returns of clothing and equipage are received, registered, and examined. After examination and the correction of errors they are forwarded to the Second Auditor of the Treasury for final settlement.
Through this branch the Quartermaster General exercises supervision over all matters pertaining to the transportation of troops, and supplies for the army, and for the militia, and settles all accounts therefor which, for any reasons, legal or technical, cannot be paid by the disbursing quartermasters stationed throughout the country, including the accounts of bond aided Pacific roads, estimates for transportation funds, and reports of their expenditure, and replies to all inquiries of Congress, the Court of Claims, and the accounting officers of the Treasury relative to transportation are prepared in this branch. All matters pertaining to Southern railroads indebted to the United States for railway material purchased by them at the close of the war, are adjusted through this branch. Telegraphing on military business and accounts growing out of such service are supervised through the transportation branch. Transportation for the other executive departments is also provided upon requests of their authorized officers and agents.
E. Regular Supplies.
This branch has charge of all matters relating to the procurement and distribution of supplies, including means of transportation, stoves, and heating apparatus, and repair and maintenance of same, for heating barracks and quarters; of ranges, stoves, and apparatus for cooking; of fuel and lights for enlisted men, guards, hospitals, storehouses, and offices, and for sales to officers; of cavalry and artillery horses; of equipment of bake houses, to carry on post bakeries; of the necessary furniture, textbooks, paper, and equipment for the post schools; for the tableware and mess furniture for kitchens and mess halls for enlisted men; of forage and bedding for the public animals of the Quartermaster's Department, and for the authorized number of officers' horses; of straw for soldiers' bedding; of stationery and blank books for the Quartermaster's Department, certificates for discharged soldiers, blank forms for the Paymaster's and Quartermaster's Departments, and of the necessary correspondence connected with the work of this branch. This branch has also charge of matters relating to all contracts to which the Quartermaster's Department is a party.
F. Clothing Supplies.
This branch of the office takes action upon all matters pertaining to the purchase and manufacture of clothing and equipage, and of the issues of same to the army, and to the militia of the states and territories in conformity with laws and regulations governing the same.
G. Barracks and Quarters.
The work of this branch pertains to providing by hire, purchase, or construction, of barracks, quarters, hospitals, store-houses, stables, roads, sidewalks, wharves and bridges, shooting galleries and target ranges, and generally to all structures furnished by the Quartermaster's Department for the use of the army, including the repairs thereof, and matters relating to post cemeteries, except interments therein, and other miscellaneous duties, among which are the preparation of drawings, specifications, estimates, and studies of various works under the heads enumerated above, and of conducting the necessary correspondence, and keeping the requisite books and records of the transactions pertaining to the work of the branch.
In this branch cognizance is taken of such matters as relate To the personnel of the officers of the Quartermaster's Department, their assignment to stations, furnishing official bonds, etc., and to matters which pertain individually to clerks and employés in the office of the Quartermaster General and of the Quartermaster's Department at large. All reports, such as the biennial and annual returns of officers of the Quartermaster's Department, and monthly and semi-monthly pay-rolls of clerks and employés in this office, are prepared therein, and action is taken on all matters pertaining to the post quartermaster sergeants and the detachment of army service men, Quartermaster's Department, at West Point. The distribution of books, orders, circulars, and other printed matter intended for the use of officers of the Quartermaster's Department is made from this branch.
I. Records and Files and Miscellaneous Claims.
This branch has the custody of the records and files of the office, from the date of its organization, June 15, 1818, and investigates and takes action upon miscellaneous claims for payment for services rendered as mechanics, teamsters, and laborers for extra-duty pay to enlisted men employed in the Quartermaster's Department for reimbursement to officers, soldiers, and civilian employés for expenses incurred while travelling on duty or under orders ; for the expenses of burial of officers and soldiers ; for awards for pursuing, apprehending, and delivering deserters ; for recovery of lost and stolen public animals, and such other claims and accounts as do not specifically pertain to other branches of the office. The branch also has charge of the supply of newspapers and periodicals to military post libraries for the use and benefit of the enlisted men of the army, and of the printing and binding for the Quartermaster's Department, and also all matters relating to claims filed arising under the act of July 4, 1864.
This branch has charge of title papers to all lands in custody of the War Department for military uses, except such as are designed for permanent fortifications, or for armories, arsenals, and ordnance depots ; and of collecting and compiling information in regard to each reservation. It also has charge of all matters relating to water works and water supply, sewerage, plumbing, structural heating, lighting, fire protection, etc., and of conducting correspondence in connection therewith.
L. National Cemeteries.
This branch has charge of matters pertaining to national cemeteries and the approaches thereto, and the superintendents of same. It exercises a general supervision over the proper disbursement of the funds provided by Congress for the care and maintenance of these cemeteries.
M. Mail and Records.
This branch has charge of all matters pertaining to the keeping of the records, and briefing, entering, and indexing of communications received in the office of the Quartermaster General, as well as the typewriting and mailing of letters and endorsement.
General depots have been established at New York City; Philadelphia and Schuylkill Arsenal, Pennsylvania; Washington, D. C.; Jeffersonville, Indiana; San Francisco, Cal., and Saint Louis, Mo.
These general depots of the Quartermasters' Department are established in different sections of the country for the collection, manufacture and preservation of quartermasters' supplies, until they are required for distribution to the army. They are under the immediate control of the Quartermaster General, and the officers in charge act under his sole direction.
At the depots at Philadelphia, Jeffersonville, Ind., and San Francisco, all the clothing for the army is manufactured.
By act of Congress approved March 3, 1873, there was established at Rock Island, Ill., a prison for the confinement of offenders against the rules, regulations and laws for the government of the army of the United States, and subsequently by act approved May 21, 1874, the military prison was transferred to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
This prison is governed by a board of five commissioners, consisting of three army officers, and two civilians. The commandant of the prison is an officer of the Quartermaster's Department.
In 1876, the manufacture of boots, shoes, etc., for the army by the convicts of this prison was first commenced and has continued to the present time.
Congress, under existing law of February 27, 1893, limits the amount of the annual appropriation for clothing for the army, that can be expended at the military prison, to $125,000.
Another duty attached to the Quartermaster's Department which resulted from the war, is that relating to burial places for the Union dead.
The act of Congress approved July 17, 1862, provided that the President of the United States shall have power, whenever in his opinion it shall be expedient, to purchase cemetery grounds, and cause them to be enclosed, to be used as a national cemetery, for the soldiers who shall die in the service of the country. During the progress of the war, the sites selected for the interment of the Union dead, who were killed in battle or died in hospital, were usually those the most conveniently located for the purpose.
After the close of the war, Congress by act approved February 22, 1867, provided for the purchase by the United States of sites for national cemeteries. The work of selecting more suitable sites, securing fee simple titles and collecting and transferring thereto the Union dead, scattered over the length and breadth of the land, was assigned to the Quartermaster's Department, and was a labor of great magnitude. This work has been continued under the direction of the Quartermaster's Department until the present time, when there are 82 national cemeteries located either on military reservations, or on land purchased for this purpose and owned by the United States, and which contain 331,755 interments. The national cemeteries are entirely distinct and disconnected from the local cemeteries.
Congress appropriates annually about $161,880 for the care and maintenance of these cemeteries, including the pay of the 72 superintendents.
Under the fostering care of the Government, the national cemeteries have been made attractive, the graves of the Union dead provided with marble headstones, the grounds ornamented and beautified, thus creating a most fitting national monument to the memory of those who gave up their lives that the Union might be preserved.
THE ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF STAFF AND LINE WITH PORTRAITS OF GENERALS-IN-CHIEF
EDITED BY: THEOPHILUS F. RODENBOUGH, BVT. BRIGADIER GENERAL U.S.A. AND WILLIAM L. HASKIN MAJOR, FIRST ARTILLERY. NEW YORK, MAYNARD, MERRILL, & CO. 1896
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