Former members of the Quartermaster Corps include U.S. Presidents, supreme court justices, military heroes and prominent citizens. From the American Revolution to about 1912, officers and noncommissioned officers were detailed from the Infantry, Artillery and Cavalry to the Quartermaster Department. With the expansion of the Armed Forces during the various conflicts of the 20th Century a number of citizen soldiers entered the Army and the Quartermaster Corps. Many rose to prominence in later years.
This list is far from complete. If you know of any other famous former Quartermasters contact us.
Chester A. Arthur
Twenty-First U.S. President (1881-1885) and Vice President. At the the outbreak of the Civil War, Arthur became New York state’s assistant quartermaster general. From July 1862 to sometime in 1863 he served as the New Yrok state Quartermaster General. He was responsible for supplying barracks, food, and equipment for the New York militia.
Commanded the Western Confederate army in the Civil War, personal advisor Jefferson Davis. His pre-Civil War U.S. Army career was highly distinguished. After action in the Seminole War, he went on to win three brevet promotion in the Mexican War. Ulysses S. Grant recalled in his memoirs a story about Bragg. Once Bragg had been both a company commander as well as company quartermaster (the officer in charge of approving the disbursement of provisions). As company commander he made a request upon the company quartermaster–himself–for something he wanted. As quartermaster he denied the request and gave an official reason for doing so in writing. As company commander he argued back that he was justly entitled to what he requested. As quartermaster he stubbornly continued to persist in denying himself what he needed. Bragg requested the intervention of the post commander (perhaps to diffuse the impasse before it came to blows). His commander was incredulous and he declared, “My God, Mr. Bragg, you have quarreled with every officer in the army, and now you are quarreling with yourself.”
Ulysses S. Grant
Eighteenth U.S. President (1869-1877), General commanding Union Armies at the end of the Civil War. During and after the War with Mexico (1846-48) Grant was detailed as Regimental Quartermaster officer for the 4th Infantry Regiment in August 1846. In September, during the battle of Monterey, Quartermaster Grant was expected to remain behind the lines. Without orders, he rode to the front and charged with his regiment. Grant now replaced the regimental adjutant. In April 1847, Grant again found himself appointed quartermaster, and this time the assignment was to last until 1852.
Revolutionary War General, brilliantly led the southern army to victory against British General Cornwallis. General Nathanael Greene was appointed by General Washington as the U.S. Army’s third Quartermaster General during the American Revolution. He served as Quartermaster General from March 1778-August 1780. Greene often combined the functions of Quartermaster General with the duties of a field commander.
Winfield Scott Hancock
Civil War Union Army corps commander, hero at Gettysburg defending against Pickett’s Charge, Presidential candidate in 1880. An infantry officer who served with distinction during the Mexican War before transferring to the Quartermaster’s Department. Hancock was regimental adjutant and quartermaster for ten years. Appointed assistant quartermaster with rank of Captain in 1855, he was stationed at Fort Myers, Florida during the Seminole War. He also served in Kansas, Utah and California as a Quartermaster officer.
Confederate General, one of the South’s most noted military leaders during the Civil War. General Joseph Johnston, became the thirteenth Quartermaster General on June 28, 1860, but served only ten months. Feeling that he owed his first allegiance to his native state, Johnston resigned his post when Virginia left the Union at the beginning of the Civil War.
Twenty-fifth U.S President (1897-1901). When the Civil War broke out in 1861, the 17-year-old McKinley enlisted as a private in the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment. On Antietam Civil War battlefield, the site of America’s bloodiest single battle ever, there stands a 30-foot monument commemorating a Union Army sergeant. At the top of the monument is a stone eagle. Near its base the inscription reads: “Sergeant McKinley, Co. E., 23rd Ohio Vol. Infty,. while in charge of the Commissary Department on the afternoon of the day of the battle of Antietam, Sept. 17, 1862, personally and without orders served hot coffee and warm food to every man in the regiment, on this spot, and in doing so had to pass under fire.” McKinley rose to the rank of brevet Major in 1865.
Philip H. Sheridan
Distinguished Civil War General, Commander in Chief of the U.S. Army in 1884-1888, worked to create Yellowstone National Park. At the start of the Civil War, Sheridan was promoted to Captain in the 13th Infantry. He was sent to Missouri for duty with the Union Armies of the West and was appointed Chief Quartermaster for the Army of Southwest Missouri serving in that position from December 1861 to May 1862.
Sandra Day O’Connor – Honorary
Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Although not a Quartermaster, O’Connor served as a civilian attorney for the Quartermaster Market Center, Frankfurt, Germany from 1954 to 1957.
John J. Pershing
Commanded the American Expeditionary Force in World War I , Chief of Staff of the Army.
Appointed General of the Armies in 1919 making him the second highest ranking general in American history. 1st Lieutenant Pershing served briefly as Regimental Quartermaster of the famous 10th Cavalry during the Spanish American War in May 1898. Pershing joined the 10th Cavalry at its staging area in Chickamauga Park, Georgia and worked tirelessly to prepare it for movement to Cuba. He had a huge task as much equipment was outdated or missing and rail transportation to Florida was delayed due to congested rail lines and poor organization. At Tampa, Florida he loaded the Regiment onto transport Leona and supervised unloading at Daiquiri and Siboney, Cuba. Pershing saw the first combat of his career at Kettle and San Juan Hills. Before this battle on 1 July 1898, the Regimental Commander ordered Pershing to act as a guide for the regiment. He was positioned in a stream bed, standing in waist deep water, where he moved men forward through exploding shells and intense fire. Later Captain Charles Ayres said that Pershing was, “cool as a bowl of cracked ice.” After enemy snipers wounded the Regimental Adjutant, Pershing took his place. Days later he took over D Troop, 10th Cavalry due to a shortage of officers. He continued to serve as Regimental Quartermaster in addition to these new duties. With the start of the rainy season, men falling ill and supplies scare, Pershing took matters into his own hands. He borrowed a mule team and wagon and drove to Siboney to load what supplies he could find without requisitions. Pershing’s success as a Quartermaster is summed up best by his Regimental Commander, Colonel Theodore Baldwin, “You did some tall rustling and if you had not we would have starved, as none of the others were able or strong enough to do it.” As each day passed more officer’s became sick with Malaria, because of this loss of officers Pershing eventually took command of three Cavalry troops as well as serving as Adjutant and Quartermaster. Due to his outstanding service in Cuba, Pershing was promoted to Major in the Volunteers in August of 1898.