Quartermaster and Horse Keeper

Posted on June 12, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, handicap, health, history, military, therapy.
76th Brigade, 1917

76th Brigade, 1917

The land, or Army, Quartermaster Department is the unit responsible for organizing and distributing supplies to our troops. The availability and volume of materials they control provides the means for military operations. Its inception here in the United States was just before the Revolutionary War in 1775.  It became a powerful role in the equine development of our country. Our first Quartermaster General, prior to the breakout of war in 1776, was appointed by the Continental Congress whose members included two future presidents: George Washington and John Adams; it also included the business/philosopher Benjamin Franklin; and the famous freedom fighter,Governor Patrick Henry.  Their first appointee, General Thomas Mifflin, tried for nearly two years to run the new department but eventually became overwhelmed with the sheer enormity of the job, especially since the lack of supplies to provide, and roads to bring them to the troops, nearly lost the war more than once.  The first Quartermaster General resigned in 1777.
A  young Rhode Island Officer, Nathaniel Greene, was appointed his successor. Edward Payson writes of Maj. Gen Greene (in the 1950 Quartermaster Review): “Throughout the winter he [Greene] had vigorously protested against conditions in the Quartermaster General’s Department, particularly the shortage of forage for horses, hundreds of which, he pointed out, had starved to death. ”
Gifted with leadership and organization, Greene established a transportation system for stock and wagons, agents to examine and purchase animals and equipment, and multiple sites for forage depots in an effort to keep soldiers and animals from starvation while out in battle. The results had an immediate beneficial impact and strengthened our position in the war, earning the Officer some of George Washington’s highest praises.

Nathanael Greene

Nathanael Greene

The availability of horses during wartime was always a problem.  Equine casualties were grossly high, ranging into the multiples of thousands of dead horses. Because of this it was impossible to maintain enough mounts.  When regional supplies of horses available for purchase were exhausted, private horses would be seized for military use. During the Civil War, for example, the approach of Northern troops into a southern town meant raiding of the horse barns, as well as their food pantries. Many southerners used their crossbred horses for battle and left their valuable breeding horses at home. When these were seized, the bloodlines of some of our founding breeds were lost forever.
Eventually, the Quartermaster Division realized the need to establish their own equine division which would include their own breeding farms. This Division can easily be called the predecessors of the US horse industry. When the field quartermaster soldiers who had worked with both mules and horses, returned to the private sector they entered their communities with well honed horsemanship skills. They regenerated the field of horse services. Also the retired Calvary Officers left their posts to become competition judges and were a powerful influence on the core principles of horsemanship and horse husbandry, principles which are still widely practiced today. During peacetime the military equine division brought about mutual competitions, establishing  3-Day Eventing Competitions and eventually becoming international, which ultimately led to participation in the Equestrian Olympics.

no comments yet.

Leave a comment

Names and email addresses are required (email addresses aren't displayed), url's are optional.

Comments may contain the following xhtml tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>




equi-works

equi-works