The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 68, July 1964 - April, 1965 Page: 525
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the existence of quartermaster, ordnance, and commissary support
elements. As a result, combat actions of the great conflict are
brilliantly spotlighted by tens of thousands of pages of print,
while service functions remain in the semi-darkened status of
being little understood and little appreciated.
A pleasing exception to that rule is The Confederate Quarter-
master in the Trans-Mississippi. In this book, Professor James L.
Nichols offers much insight into the Southern supply service with
emphasis on logistical activities in the Confederate Southwest.
The quartermasters faced virtually impossible tasks. Except for
guns, gun-powder, and rations, they were expected to furnish the
armies with all other supplies and to provide a great number of
services. Such items as transportation, water supplies, veterinarian
services, and the hiring of civilian helpers-responsibilities long
since assigned to other branches--were placed under the juris-
diction of Civil War quartermasters. Seldom were these officers
able to function as mere purchasing agents; in many instances
they had to appeal to the public for donations of needed goods,
or they had to take an active part in establishing shops to fabri-
cate scarce supplies.
As the vast Trans-Mississippi region gained departmental status
and subsequently lost its ties of control from Richmond, quar-
termaster officers in the Southwest came to face even greater
responsibilities and more taxing demands. Eventually, in order
to meet these growing additional requirements, a number of
sub-bureaus were created to handle pay, to supervise the manu-
facture and distribution of clothing, to administer the tax-in-
kind, to manage governmental cotton sales, and to oversee field
transportation matters. The development and role of these sub-
ordinate quartermaster agencies are admirably discussed in the
In evaluating the overall effectiveness of quartermaster opera-
tions in the Trans-Mississippi, Professor Nichols concludes that
logistical functions were crucially damaged by the financial col-
lapse of the South and by a lack of long-range direction in such
areas as developing the overland trade with Mexico to its full
potentialities. Despite these obstacles, however, the supply service
managed to keep an army in the field for four years. Also, if given
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 68, July 1964 - April, 1965, periodical, 1965; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101198/m1/612/: accessed July 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.