West Point in the Making of America

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Rail-head Dump at Menil-la-Tour

Rail-head Dump at Menil-la-Tour



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Feeding the troops

Feeding the troops

Officer’s Mess, Ammunition train in the field northwest of Chateau Thierry

Officer’s Mess, Ammunition train in the field northwest of Chateau Thierry

Pack mules in action

Pack mules in action

At the Camouflage Factory in Dijon

At the Camouflage Factory in Dijon



Supplying the Army

“At first there will be increased slaughter—increased slaughter on so terrible a scale as to render it impossible to push the battle to a decisive issue. . . . Then, instead of a war fought out to the bitter end in a series of decisive battles, we shall have to substitute a long period of continually increasing strain upon the resources of the combatants. . . . That is the future of war—not fighting but famine, not the slaying of men but the bankruptcy of nations and the break-up of the whole social organization.”
    —Jean de Bloch, Is War Now Impossible? The Future of War in Its Technical, Economic and Political Relations, 1899




“Amateurs study tactics,” goes an old saying, “armchair generals study strategy, but professionals study logistics [obtaining and moving supplies].” A wave of reform, stimulated by the logistic failures of the Spanish-American War and sustained by the Progressive Movement, swept the army in the decade before World War I. The more tightly run, businesslike army administration that emerged included reorganized supply services, although significant elements of the old independent bureau system remained intact.

On the eve of America’s entry into the War, three major bureaus provided the army with its supplies and equipment. The Quartermaster Corps under Henry Sharpe (Class of 1880) provided and distributed food, clothing, and everything else the army needed except munitions and communications. All aspects of weapons and ammunition, from design to maintenance, belonged to the Ordnance Corps under William Crozier (Class of 1876). The Signal Corps under George Squier (Class of 1887) was responsible for communications gear and airplanes.



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William Crozier




Key Figures






William Crozier
William Crozier
1855–1942
Class of 1876



Henry Granville Sharpe
Henry Granville Sharpe
1858–1947
Class of 1880



George Owen Squier
George Owen Squier
1865–1934
Class of 1887





Smithsonian National Museum of American History


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West Point in History Introduction 1802–1860 1861–1870 1866–1914 1914–1918 Epilogue Introduction 1802–1860 1861–1870 1866–1914 1914–1918 Epilogue Mobilizing Manpower and Industry Supplying the Army America at War