The Army of Northern Virginia: Lee's Army in the American Civil War, 1861-1865

By Philip Katcher | Go to book overview
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Logistics

For the Army of Northern Virginia, arms, food, and equipment became increasingly scarce. Troops made do with what they could salvage on the battlefield or what the Quartermaster General could produce, and necessity fostered invention in all areas of logistics.

The new Confederacy consisted largely of agrarian states with a limited infrastructure, and would have to work twice as hard as the states remaining in the Union if it was to supply its men in the field with vital munitions, food, and clothing.

The most immediate need was for weapons. On April 8, 1861, Josiah Gorgas, a West Pointer who had served in the U.S. Army's Ordnance Department, arrived in Montgomery, Alabama, and took over the position of the Confederate Army's Chief of Ordnance. His department found that some 159,000 small arms, 429 cannon, 330,000 lb (149,685 kg) of cannon powder, 162,000 lb (73,481 kg) of musket and rifle powder, and 3,200,000 small arms cartridges had been seized from U.S. Army arsenals in the South. Turning the powder into cartridges would give the new army some 4,500,000 rounds of ammunition. The problem was getting all these weapons into the hands of volunteers. Indeed, many new volunteer companies, impatient with waiting for state-issue weapons or unable to get them in the sudden demand, turned to private sources. A Richmond supply house, Mitchell & Tyler, advertised in the Richmond Dispatch of April 17 that it had a supply of “the minnie musket [i.e., the U.S. Army's M1855 rifled musket firing a Miniè ball], English Enfield rifle, rifled muskets with either angular or sword bayonets. Fine [0.36-caliber] Navy pistols, also French cavalry sabres, a superior article, at a low price.” These weapons were immediately snapped up by the wealthier members of Richmond's volunteer companies. Other companies had to get what they could from the official Ordnance Department supply.

Although the South was not greatly industrialized, there were some Southern manufacturers who could provide weapons, although none in great numbers.

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