Civil War Logistics

The Overland Campaign
Civil War Logistics
Federal Center Chapter
June 29, 2011
May 5 - 6
May 8 – 19
North Anna
May 23 - 26
R. E. Lee
U. S. Grant
Cold Harbor
June 1 - 3
City Point
City Point, Virginia
“ ‘That’s Logistics’,
Long Before UPS”
City Point, Virginia
The James River
Plantation owned by the Epps family for generations.
Current owner, Dr. Richard Epps, Confederate surgeon.
City Point, Virginia June 1864
Appomattox Manor
Original Wharf
Grant’s Headquarters
Grant in front of his HQ tent
Grant’s HQ in the field - 1864
Appomattox Manor
Appomattox Manor
Damaged during
Civil War
Construction of Grant’s HQ
• Grant wanted to live in tents. He did not want
permanent structures built
• His objective was to rapidly end the siege, defeat
Lee, and win the war
• With the oncoming winter, Grant’s staff urged
that more permanent structures be built
• In November 1864, Grant had to leave City Point
for a few days and the construction corps built
cabins to house Grant and his staff
Building Winter Quarters
Grant’s Cabin
Grant is seated at center
Interior of Grant’s Cabin
Receiving and Storage Facilities
• Eight wharves were built, by commodity,
over a mile long and covering 350,000 square
feet. They included general supply, forage,
ordnance, subsistence, medical, maintenance,
mail landing, and transfer
• Warehouses over 100,000 square feet were
located on the wharves
• A plank road and rail lines ran along wharf
• Supplies were either put into storage or
loaded onto wagons or railroad cars and
taken to the front
USMRR City Point, VA
• Benjamin Epps, father of Dr. Richard Epps who
owned the plantation in 1864, built the railroad
from the James River to Petersburg in 1836 – 1838
• By 1864 the railroad was in a state of disrepair.
Between June 18th and July 7th, 1864, it was rebuilt
and delivering men and supplies between City
Point and the front lines
• USMRR expanded the rail lines from 9 miles to 22
miles to support the Union armies
• At its height up to 24 locomotives pulled an
average of 1400 tons of supplies, and troops to the
front each day and returned with sick and
U S Military Railroad (USMRR) & Wharves
Commissary Depot
& Bakery
Ingalls HQ
Grant HQ
Main Rail line
Ordnance Wharf
Forage Wharf
Transfer Wharf
Commissary Wharf
Railroad Track and Storage Facilities
Shipping into City Point
• More than 390 ships routinely connected
Union supply sources with City Point
• At any time, approximately 40
steamships and tugs, 75 sailing ships, and
100 barges were in service at Eastern
ports, en route, or anchored at City Point
• Up to 25 ships could be offloaded at one
time at the wharves
Ships Offloading at City Point
African-Americans Receiving Supplies
Most stevedores were freed slaves
Supply Support at City Point
• Over 280 buildings were erected at City Point
• In the nine months City Point was open, over
600,000 tons of supplies were delivered from
the wharves and warehouses to the front lines
• A daily transaction report was submitted to
Quartermaster General Rufus B. Ingalls listing
receipts and issues
Quartermaster Depot
Outside Storage
Ordnance Wharf and Lumber Storage
Supply Support at City Point
• Supply support was on a “pull” system
• Requirements were consolidated at regimental level
• Commanding Generals of the two armies signed the
• Quartermaster Generals of both armies submitted a
detailed listing of requirements on the 25th of the
month for the following month
• Ingalls and his staff checked for availability, submitted
requisitions for items not available, and planned
deliveries to support monthly requirements
• Ingalls insisted on accountability. Nothing left City
Point without his authorization
Rail Deliveries from City Point
• Supplies were delivered by rail from the
depot directly to brigade supply areas, nine
round trip runs each day
• Response time for routine requests dropped
to less than 24 hours and to several hours for
Wagon Train Deliveries from City Point
What wasn’t delivered by rail was delivered by wagon
Subsistence Support
• Most likely the best fed army up to that time,
certainly in the Civil War
• Commissary wharf – 581 ft long and 40,000 square
• One herd of cattle numbering 2500 was maintained
at City Point. Another herd of 2500 was maintained
across the James River
• Fresh meat and vegetables were provided to the
troops when available
• Bakery produced 100,000 loaves of bread per day
• Requirement for storage of 16,000 tons of food for
troops (30 days) and 17,000 tons for animals (20
days) at all times
Slaughterhouse at City Point
Menu Items
• Menus included the following:
salt pork, fresh beef, ham and bacon, hard
bread, soft bread, potatoes, onions, flour,
beans, split peas, rice, dried apples,
desiccated vegetables, coffee, tea, sugar,
molasses, vinegar, pepper and salt
• Wagons with fresh produce , when
available, were driven down the lines
Thanksgiving Day 1864
• Businessman George Blunt raised money to
provide Thanksgiving dinner to the troops
• Coordinated by New York Union Club cofounder Theodore Roosevelt, Sr.
• Delmonico’s and other NYC restaurants
provided thousands of dinners of turkeys and
other fowl with all the trimmings.
• Results were mixed
• Primary benefit was morale
Thanksgiving 1864
“our defenders, City Point”
Maintenance and Repair
• Repair depot commander: Brevet LTC E. J. Strang
• Repair depot workforce numbered over 1,800
carpenters, wheelwrights, blacksmiths, saddlers,
teamsters and corral hands
• Repair depot wharf covered 190 feet of
waterfront and consisted of 26,000 square feet
of storage space
Maintenance and Repair (cont.)
• In nine months of operation, the depot
repaired 3,653 wagons and 2,414 ambulances
• 19,618 horses and 31,628 mules were shod
• Department issued 31,386 horses, 18,891
mules, 1,536 wagons and 370 ambulances
• Colonel Strang provided repair teams of
blacksmiths, carpenters and wheelwrights to
front line units to shoe animals and repair
Maintenance Facilities
• Repair shops at City Point maintained and
repaired over 5,000 wagons and 60,000
animals that supported Grant’s armies
USMRR Roundhouse and Repair Facility
Hospital Facilities
• City Point Hospital covered two hundred
• Hospital handled more than 10,000
patients during summer of 1864
• Twelve hundred tents lined the streets
• Capable of providing 6,000 patients warm
quarters during winter of 1864 – 1865 in
90 (20’ X 50’) log huts
City Point Hospital
Hospital Ambulances
Hospital Facilities
• Drugs and medical supplies were
• Patients had a bed with clean sheets
and pillows
• Hospital featured running water and
laundry facilities – 2 four HP steam
engines pumped water
Steam Engines at the City Point Dock
Defense was critical
Confederate lines were close by and there
was always the threat of cavalry raids
Three significant attacks
were made on City Point
Entrenchments at City Point
Attack on City Point
• On August 9, 1864 – an explosion shook City
– A munitions barge at the wharf exploded
– Estimated 75,000 rounds of small arms
ammunition and 20,000 rounds of artillery
ammunition exploded
– At least 43 killed and 126 wounded
– Destroyed several large buildings and 180 feet
of wharf
– Two million dollars worth of supplies and
munitions were destroyed
Attack on City Point
• August 9, 1864 (cont.)
● Grant could have been a casualty. Several
of his staff surrounding him were wounded
● Grant did not even get up to see what had
happened. After it was over, he received a
report and went directly to the telegraph
office to report the incident
● City Point was back to nearly full operation
in nine days
Another View of the Devastation
Rail cars and
The incident was
train years
along the wharf
an accident until
later. A former Confederate
agent, John Maxwell,
admitted to setting a time
bomb, which he called a
“horological torpedo”
Ordnance Wharf with Sentry
Attack on City Point
September 17, 1864
● Lee learned of cattle movement by tapping Union
telegraph lines between City Point and Washington
● Wade Hampton’s cavalry stole 2,500 head of cattle
and delivered them to Lee’s army
Attack on City Point
• January 25, 1865
– Three ironclads, three wooden vessels and flotilla of
torpedo boats headed down the James River
towards City Point
– Objective: Run past the batteries, take City Point and
cut off Union supply lines
– A large Confederate force was massed north of the
river to attack once City Point was reached
Attacks on City Point
• January 25, 1865 (cont.)
– The ships got past the batteries of guns
– The ironclads ran aground and the other boats
turned back
• The attack was a total failure
– If it had been successful, Union armies would have
temporarily been cut off from supplies
– If Lee had taken City Point, even for a short time,
stolen supplies would have resupplied his army for
President Abraham Lincoln
Visit to City Point, VA March 24 – April 9, 1865
• After his wife’s suggestion, Grant invited President
Lincoln to visit City Point on March 20, 1865
• Lincoln arrived at City Point on March 24, 1865
President Abraham Lincoln
Visit to City Point, VA March 24 – April 9, 1865
● Lincoln visited units and patients in military
● While at City Point, Lincoln was in constant
communication with the government in
Washington via telegraph
● A meeting between Lincoln and his major
commanders, General Grant, General Sherman
and Admiral Porter was held on the “River
Queen,” on March 28th
“The Peacemakers”
George P. A. Healy
President Abraham Lincoln
Visit to City Point, VA March 24 – April 9, 1865
• President Lincoln visited Richmond, two days after its
capture on April 4, 1865
• Lincoln left City Point to return to Washington on April
9th, the day Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox
• He was shot at Ford’s Theater on April 14, 1865 and
died the following morning
• Lincoln spent two of his last three weeks on earth at
City Point
City Point’s Legacy
• "There has been no army in
the United States where the
duties of Quartermaster have
been so well performed.“
Ulysses S. Grant
Commanding General
Quartermaster General
Rufus B. Ingalls
The End
Rufus Ingalls’ English Spotted Coach Dog
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