01/26/14

Confederate Quartermaster Stores: Savannah Coastal Defenses

old-fort-jackson

During a past visit to Old Fort Jackson in Savannah, GA,  I rediscovered a report by an unidentified Confederate inspection officer.  It details CS Quartermaster stores on hand in Savannah as of October 31, 1863. Since the Port of Savannah closed with the Federal capture of Fort Pulaski in April 1862, supplies for defense of the city had to be obtained from domestic sources or from the ports of Wilmington and Charleston. This missive provides a wealth of insight into the Confederate Quartermaster system in general as relates to procurement, variety, and quality of supplies on hand, etc. It also gives some wonderful insight as to the actual sources from which these supplies were obtained. There are some real pearls here! It is quoted verbatim below, allowing for some editing on my part to facilitate readability.

“The clothing on hand consists as follows:
Infantry Jackets: A lot [of 1300] made of English cloth, with metallic buttons, a good article and strongly put up; a lot [of 2600] made of Georgia jeans, from the Richmond [Georgia] factory, with wooden buttons, an inferior article compared to the first.
Pantaloons: A lot [of 150] made of English tweed pants, a good article (the artillery in and around Savannah has been provided with these pants for the last six months); a lot [of 800] made of Georgia homespun, manufactured in Savannah, a strong article of light gray but rather thin for winter; a lot [of 6,700] made of Georgia jeans, a pretty good article, off light gray. Besides the above, the Quartermaster has on hand a lot of 1400 jackets and pants of Georgia homespun which were turned over to him by the state of Georgia and which, as a last resort, might be used for the troops. It is a poor article, however, thin for the season, and almost white.
Drawers and Shirts: [A lot of] 8000, of white cotton. These shirts and drawers are made in Savannah, under supervision of the Quartermasters, who employ for that purpose the wives and female relations of Ga. soldiers.
Shoes: A lot of 150 pairs of shoes of different patterns; a lot of 200 pairs French army shoes of strong materials, but most of them do not match. Said lot hardly fit for issue.
[Miscellaneous:] 6000 pairs cotton socks; 2000 blankets. The QM has also a lot of 18 second handed blankets fit for use and another lot of 36 damaged, rotten blankets, entirely unfit for use. Oil cloth caps about 175; gray cloth caps [about] 300. Thread: 10,000 spools. Bone buttons for drawers and shirts 600 great gross; metallic buttons 700 gross; shirt buttons 400 gross.

Major George Robertson is the Chief Commissary of Subsistence at Savannah. He has on hand: bacon – 250,000 lbs. sides; sugar – 108,000 lbs; flour – 1,500 barrels; meal – 328,286 lbs; hard bread -587 furnaces making about 117,000 lbs. in all; vinegar – 1,600 gallons; candles – 7,600 pounds including 4,000 lbs. that were expected daily from Atlanta; soap – 14,000 lbs. on hand and 9,500 expected from Atlanta; whiskey – 5,000 gallons; molasses – 2,700 gallons; salt – 283 bushels (the commisary keeps but a small supply of salt on hand as he gets it readily from the Government Salt Works, seven miles from Savannah); fresh beef – 4,620 lbs. (this beef, says the Commissary, is unfit for slaughter). The corn stores and warehouses are kept in very good order, in large ventilated halls.”

Plain jackets such as this one with wooden buttons [reproduction] were included in Ft. Jackson's stock of supplies. Photo courtesy Andrew Kasmar.

Plain jackets such as this one with wooden

buttons [reproduction] were included in

Ft. Jackson’s stock of supplies. Photo courtesy Andrew Kasmar.

By Bob Williams