The Quartermaster Department was established two days after the Congress authorized the creation of the Continental Army in 1776. Since that date, the missions of the quartermaster soldier have continuously expanded and contracted. Described below is a brief history of how the missions and functions of the Army Quartermaster have evolved.
- Supply of general encampment supplies (tents, lumber etc)
- Construction of shelters for winter encampments
- Forage for animals
- During this period the Quartermaster Department shared duties with the Commissary General of Purchases in the following areas – “procurement and providing of arms, clothing, military stores and generally all articles of supply requisite for the military Service of the United States.
- In 1842 after the abolishment of the Commissary General of purchases, the Quartermaster Department becomes responsible for the procuring and distribution of all supplies and equipment except subsistence (food).
- Maintenance of National Cemeteries and burial of the dead added
- Establishment of the Quartermaster Corps and assumption of duties of paymaster, and procurement and distribution of subsistence.
- The Quartermaster Corps’ responsibility for transportation, procurement, and construction is temporarily suspended due to the rapid mobilization and expansion of the Army.
- Graves Registration Service established
- Laundry and bath services assigned to the Quartermaster Corps
- Pay functions transferred to Finance Department
- Army Heraldic (flags, insignia, medals) responsibility transferred to the Quartermaster Corps
Transportation mission transferred to newly established Transportation Corps
- Quartermasters responsible for procuring, training, and care of Army War Dogs
- Construction mission transferred to Engineer Corps
- Aerial delivery mission transferred to the Quartermaster Corps from the Air Force
- Heraldic mission transferred to the Adjutant General
- Clothing mission transferred to the Defense Logistics Agency
- Water purification/distribution functions transferred to the Quartermaster Corps from the Engineer Corps
Current the Quartermaster Corps’ assigned missions are:
- General supply (less ammunition and medical)
- Mortuary Affairs
- Food Service
- Petroleum and Water Distribution
- Aerial Delivery
- Shower & Laundry
- Fabric/Light Textile Repair
- Material and Distribution Management