Jeffersonville Quartermaster Intermediate Depot; History and Functions
By Lieut. Colonel C. S. HAMILTON, Q. M. C.
The Quartermaster Review – July-August 1927
THE Jeffersonville Quartermaster Intermediate Depot is located in the outskirts of Jeffersonville, Ind. Its location in Jeffersonville is particularly fortunate. This city, with a population of 15,000, lies just across the Ohio River from Louisville, Ky., with a population of 350,000, and about four miles below on the river is the city of New Albany, Ind., with a population of 30,000. These three cities, known as the Falls Cities, are located at the falls of the Ohio River, and comprise a metropolitan district of approximately 400,000 people, within a radius of five miles.
Jeffersonville is about equi distant from the eastern and western lines of the State of Indiana, is easily accessible from all points by good railway facilities, and the Ohio River affords excellent water transportation to the east and south. It lies in the center of a vast region of raw materials and an agricultural area of remarkable fertility. Natural power can be developed in unlimited quantities. There is but a small foreign element among the population in the surrounding districts, and there has never been a shortage of labor. In fact, labor difficulties of any sort have been practically unknown.
In addition to its advantageous industrial and commercial location, the Jeffersonville Quartermaster Intermediate Depot is in the interior and outside of the 200 mile wide frontier zone, designated by General Staff studies as not safe from invasion. Its distance of over300 miles from our nearest border is sufficiently great as to preclude it from air attack.
The Jeffersonville Quartermaster Intermediate Depot had its first beginning in the early days of the Civil War, near its present location. Jeffersonville, Indiana, was one of the principal gateways to the South during the Civil War. It was served by three railroads from the north and had the good water communications of the Ohio River. Naturally, this influenced its selection as one of the principal bases for supplies and troops for the Union Army operating in the South, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad furnishing the connecting link between Louisville and the South.
The Union Army had a number of camp sites in the vicinity of Jeffersonville. One of the principal ones was Camp Joe Holt, located on the river bank near the Big Eddy of the Ohio falls. Troops and supplies were forwarded to the South from these camps. The Camp Joe Holt site was continued as a rendezvous hospital and maintained as such until February 21, 1864, when the Jefferson General Hospital was placed in commission. This hospital was erected in the region now known as Port Fulton, about a mile distant up the river from the old site, the land having been seized by the Government from the Honorable Jesse D. Bright, United States Senator, a sympathizer of the Confederate cause.
A shirt factory was established in one of the buildings of the Jefferson General Hospital and shirts and trousers made for Army use. At this time, garments were cut out by hand, issued in bundles of four or eight to the widows, mothers and sisters of Union soldiers and made up in their homes, being returned in a few days to the hospital for inspection. This was the real beginning of the Jeffersonville Quartermaster Intermediate Depot.
On July 18, 1864, by General Order 231, W. D., nine Divisions of the Quartermaster Department were established throughout the country, to function for the remainder of the Civil War and for a period of one year thereafter, a different class of supplies and duties being assigned to each. The Seventh Division was charged with the procuring, issuing, etc. of vehicles, harness stoves, miscellaneous hardware and stationery. Evidently, the Jeffersonville Depot continued or fell heir to the duties of the Seventh Division as, in his annual report for the Fiscal Year 1866, the Asst. Quartermaster General included Jeffersonville, Indiana, in the list of principal Depots.
During the Civil War period, the demands of the troops supplied from Jeffersonville increased to such an extent that a hardtack factory was added to its activities, in addition to that of supplying clothing, harness, saddlery, vehicles and various kinds of hardware.
On March 14, 1867, General Order No.17, W. D., allotted $150,000.00 for the erection of new fireproof Government storehouses, at or near the City of Jeffersonville. This construction was necessary for the consolidation of the scattered buildings to mold the whole into a permanent Depot. The City of Jeffersonville donated 17.4 acres of land for this purpose. This ground, which was known as Vernon Place, covered four city blocks. After the acceptance of this land by the Government, proposals were advertised and contracts let in 1871 for the erection of permanent buildings, the specifications for which were drawn up under the personal direction of Major General J. C. Meigs, the Quartermaster General of the Army.
The original structure was in the form of a quadrangle, consisting of a one-story brick building 50 feet wide and approximately 800 feet long on each side, with four main entrances. In the center of the quadrangle, a power house with a water tower, approximately 100 feet high was erected with the additional purpose of guard and fire observation. The original storage facilities consisted of 1 50,000 square feet. The building was of brick and stone construction and was completed in 1874. Colonel James E. Ekin was the first Depot Quartermaster.
The functions given the Depot at this time were the procurement, inspection, storage and issue of vehicles, harness, heating stoves, army ranges and necessary parts therefor, and miscellaneous hardware and stationery. In addition to the regular Depot functions, a force of Quartermaster agents worked under the supervision of the Jeffersonville Depot for a number of years after the close of the Civil War, to adjust various claims against the Government on account of War activities.
Spanish-American War Period
In 1897, the stock of supplies at the Depot and the force of personnel were small, the total force consisting of 71 employees only. Late in 1897, Colonel Charles W. Williams, who was the Depot Quartermaster, received confidential instructions from the War Department, directing him to reorganize the Depot immediately, and to replenish stock and place it in condition for the prompt transaction of war activities. Special efforts were made from that time on, and upon the declaration of War with Spain, on April 6, 1898, the Depot was in condition to meet promptly any demands that might be made upon it.
During 1898, approximately 100,000 garments a month were manufactured at the Depot through its home sewing operatives. Similarly as during the Civil War period, these garments were cut out by hand at the Depot and sent out to homes to be finished. There were many delays in the receipt of materials which at that time could only be secured from eastern manufacturers.
During the War, two million dollars was expended at the Depot, which was considered an unusually large amount at that time, and for two year’s after the War, the claims of 29 railroads were settled, aggregating four million dollars.
At the close of the Spanish-American War, a harness shop was added to the Depot activities, for the repair and reclamation of harness turned in by the organizations mustered out of service. By the time this reclamation was completed, additional mechanics had been added and its energies devoted to the manufacture of handsewn ambulance harness for the Army.
During 1900, the storage space was increased 90,000 square feet, by the addition of three one-story frame buildings in the northwest and northeast corners of the quadrangle. In 1903, the old power plant and tower, in the center of the quadrangle, was rebuilt into a twostory brick building, to provide an ample, well-ventilated and lighted general office. This building was built of the brick from the old tower. From this period until the World War, there was no material increase in the operations or functions of the Depot, other than those due to increase in the Army, in 1901.
The Jeffersonville Depot at this time became well known to the Army and civil circles as the sole point of supply for military purposes of such articles as animal drawn vehicles, harness and parts, except artillery, material, Army ranges, heating stoves, laundry stoves, field ranges, field bakeries and field equipment and parts.
Mexican Border Activities
At the time of the Mexican Border difficulties, in 1916, five posts were assigned to the Jeffersonville Depot for supply. These were:
Fort Oglethorpe, Ga.
Fort McPherson, Ga.
Fort Thomas, KY.
Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind.
Columbus Barracks, Ohio.
With the establishment of additional temporary posts along the Mexican Border and the base supply depots at El Paso and Fort Sam Houston, Texas., the Jeffersonville Depot was called upon for renewed activities, for the issuing of a large portion of stock and the replenishment from time to time of various classes of supplies.
While not designated as a supply point for clothing, the Jeffersonville Depot was one of the chief centers of manufacture, particularly for flannel shirts and cloth, which were supplied in quantities to St. Louis and Francisco Depots for distribution and also to numerous posts throughout this country and the Philippine Islands, as directed by the Quartermaster General, or the Depot Quartermaster at Philadelphia, which Depot was the authorized source of the clothing supply. The efficiency of the clothing manufacturing department was very high. Garments were cut at the Depot and issued to home workers for completion as formerly, and the quality and quantity of the work was satisfactory without necessitating a costly factory system to be maintained. Profitable employment was furnished to many women operatives in Jeffersonville and vicinity. In February, 1917, the shirt department was enlarged. Electric cutting knives were installed and three shifts of cutters employed and the production increased ninety per cent.
The harness shop, which at this time was manufacturing, repairing and altering aparejos, harness and leather equipment, was especially valuable when the necessity arose for quickly filling emergency requisitions for supplies not usually carried in stock by commercial firms.
Various types of rolling kitchens were tested at the shops during this period and also given practical tests on the Mexican Border, and the improved kitchens, provided as the result of these tests, came later into extensive use.
Due to the expansion of the Depot during the Border activities, its personnel was largely increased and it was reorganized into the following Divisions and Branches:
Administrative, Finance, Purchasing, Supply and Transportation, this expansion forming a nucleus for that of the World War period.
World War Period
With the beginning of the World War, the Depot Commander, Colonel W. S. Wood, was confronted with the necessity of enormous expansion and reorganization to meet the increased demands and functions incident thereto. Among the problems of expansion were those of securing additional personnel, office space, land for increased storage, transportation and switching facilities, and the construction of storage warehouses and manufacturing plants, with complete sewerage and lighting systems.
The reorganization of the Depot was extended to include a Construction Division and among the more important branches added were Intelligence, Medical, Reclamation and Overseas Branches. The Purchasing Division was reorganized into three main branches: General Supplies, Vehicles and Harness.
During this period, there were first constructed three new buildings with storage, loading and shipping facilities, adjoining the railroad tracks, just outside the original depot grounds. These were soon followed by a series of buildings within the original quadrangle, of semipermanent construction and intended for the storage and inspection of supplies. Due to the great expansion of the Depot, it was soon necessary to convert a number of these into office buildings to provide for the additional clerical personnel which, during the height of the War, numbered many hundred. The Guard force alone, during this period, numbered nearly five hundred, and on account of the size of the Depot, many of them were mounted.
Reclamation activities included a Base Shoe Repair Shop, employing 194 people which, on August 3l, 1918, had an output of 800 pairs of shoes per day, and increased in February, 1919, to a daily average of 21,192 pairs; also a Paulin Treatment and Repair Plant, with 65 employees. In this plant, between May 1 and December 15, 1918, 11,395 paulins were treated, repaired and made ready for issue.
Additional construction included 70 semi-permanent buildings, 211 temporary buildings, 5.8 miles of railroad switches and a pumping station and electric plant.
World’s Largest Shirt Factory
In the Clothing and Manufacturing Branch, the home operatives were increased from approximately 2,000 to 20,000, and the output of garments brought up from 600,000 to 8,500,000 per year. At the time of the Armistice, the monthly output of shirts reached its zenith, being between 600,000 and 700,000, and the Jeffersonville Depot became known as the world’s largest shirt factory.
Uniforms were manufactured at the Depot, the output being 750 service coats and 1,000 pairs of breeches per day. This plant was closed on November 14, 1918, reopened February 17, 1919, and permanently closed January 9, 1922, when this activity was transferred to Philadelphia.
Large Harness Factory
The Harness Shop, at the beginning of the World War, employed about 35 men and turned out approximately 100 sets of ambulance harness weekly. By the. spring of 1918, this force was increased to 100 men and the production to 500 sets of ambulance harness, or its equivalent, weekly. Besides the harness, aparejos, water bags, paulins and wagon covers were also manufactured.
The Depot reservation consists at present of a little over 240 acres. Of this, 170.65 acres is government owned, and 68.63 acres more are now undergoing condemnation, the title which will actually pass to the government shortly. The remainder, which is now under lease, will be returned to the owners about the end of the fiscal year.
Office arid Storage Facilities
There are 156 buildings on the reservation, of which 61 are of permanent construction, 49 semi-permanent and 46 temporary. The central office building is a well lighted brick structure, containing 28,886 square feet of office space.
The storage space available consists of 3,023,031 square feet, which is classified as follows:
Permanent 1,030,842 sq. ft.
Temporary 381,869 sq. ft.
Semi-permanent 1,610,320 sq. ft.
In addition, there is a central heating plant, a power station, pumping station and reservoir of 1,300,000 gallon capacity and a water tank of 200,000 gallon capacity. The permanent warehouses and the more important semi-permanent ones are equipped with sprinkler system.
The Depot has its own complete water, sewerage and lighting systems. Power for manufacturing purposes is purchased but an auxiliary plant is available for the manufacture of power, if necessary. A completely equipped fire department is maintained and operated by the Depot personnel.
The manufacturing activities at this Depot are quite extensive and varied, a total of 123,296 square feet of floor space having been set aside for this purpose. Among the various shops are the Saddlery and Harness Shop, the Textile Shop, Metal Shop, Printing Shop and Type Foundry, Clothing Factory and Rubber Stamp Factory, the last two being inactive at present. All these activities are a part of the Manufacturing Division of the Supply Service. In addition, a modern Box Shop and the Utilities Shops are operated by the Construction Division and a Motor Transport Overhead Park by the Transportation Service.
There are 5.8 miles of government-owned tracks for loading and switching purposes, connecting with three trunk roads, the Big Four, Pennsylvania and B. & 0. Railroads. In addition, the Depot is on the main line of the Interstate Public Service Co., affording fast Interurban freight service Between Jeffersonville and terminal and ferry connection with all railroads operating through and out of Louisville, Ky., and street car service from the Depot to Jeffersonville, New Albany, Louisville and other nearby towns. Direct communication by the Ohio River is available to eastern, western and southern points and this is becoming an important factor of transportation.
Functions During Peace-Time
The Jeffersonville Quartermaster Intermediate Depot is a manufacturing, supply and storage depot. It is responsible for the procurement, storage and distribution to the Army of the following Quartermaster supplies, apportioned to this Depot by the Quartermaster General:
Army ranges and parts
Ranges, field, Nos. 1 and 2
Cooking outfits for mountain artillery
Cooking utensils for field ranges, rolling kitchens and other authorized kitchen utensils except coal hods
Bakery equipment, post and field
Stoves, heating, laundry, tent, and parts
Lamps, oil, hand, bracket, pendant, and parts
Hollowware and range furniture
Vehicles, animal-drawn, and parts
Chests, tool complete, and parts
Tools, tinners’, and masons’
Tool sets, typewriter
Motor vehicles and parts, required by the Vth, VIth and VIIth Corps Areas.
In addition, it is responsible for the procurement, storage and distribution of all equipment, supplies and services required for the entire operation and maintenance of the Depot, which have not been specifically assigned elsewhere. It repairs all officers’ riding saddles, manufactures special measurement leggins, saber chains, spur chains, officers’ belts and personal
There are two manufacturing depots operated by the Quartermaster Corps, the Jeffersonville Quartermaster Intermediate Depot and the Philadelphia Quartermaster Intermediate Depot.
The Jeffersonville Depot manufactures, under instructions from the Quartermaster General, items for which the Quartermaster Corps is charged with supply, also articles for other branches of the Army, such as the Ordnance Department, Medical Department, etc., and for other departments of the government, such as the Department of Agriculture, Post Office Department, etc. The manufacturing activities are grouped as follows:
Leather Equipment Branch
This Branch manufactures and repairs all classes and kinds of leather goods, such as harness, harness parts, saddles, bridles, cases of all kinds, officers’ and enlisted men’s belts; in fact, all articles of leather equipment for horse and man, as used in the Army. Here was developed and manufactured the Phillips pack saddle, the last word in pack equipment, with which the Army is now being rapidly equipped.
Textile Equipment Branch
This branch manufactures and repairs all classes of equipment, made from duck or webbing, as used by the Army, such as haversacks, pack carriers, saber belts, wagon covers, truck covers, gun covers, tool kits, bags, bandoleers, slings and carriers, and other similar articles of textile equipment.
Metal Equipment Branch
This branch manufactures metal parts or components of leather and textile equipment, stirrups, saber chains, buckles of all kinds, trench mirrors, canteens, cups, meat cans, knives, forks, spoons and metal parts for Phillips pack saddles. This Branch began operation at this Depot in 1923, the machinery and equipment having been transferred from the Rock Island Arsenal, upon the allotment to the Quartermaster Corps for storage and issue of certain classes of supplies which had formerly been manufactured and issued by the Ordnance Department.
This branch performs all printing under competent orders, in accordance with Regulations No. 11, Joint Committee for Printing, such as blank forms, cards, envelopes, form letters, letterheads, placards, posters, programs, schedules, tickets, slacker lists, general courts-martial orders, booklets, pamphlets, and in fact about everything in the printing line except the finest transfer and half-tone work.
In addition to the printing plant, there is a type foundry which manufactures type by the monotype process to supply requisitions for same from authorized stations.
The Clothing Branch, Shirt Branch and Rubber Stamp Branch are now inactive, the machinery being so stored that it can be placed in operation at any time.
These shops manufacture and equip the Army with mess tables and most of the stovepipe and cooking boilers of various types in use. In addition, certain wagon parts and parts for rolling kitchens are manufactured. Containers for many classes of supplies are made in the Box Shop.
Motor Transport Shops
These shops were first established in January, 1920, and were operated entirely by civilian employees until July 1, 1926, when these activities were taken over By Co. “B”, 4th Motor Repair Bn., which was transferred to this station from Camp Normoyle, Texas.
These shops perform all classes of motor vehicle and unit repair for the Vth, VIth and VIIth Corps Areas, and in addition supply complete vehicles and units to the Army at large, as directed by The Quartermaster General.
The present Depot military personnel consists of fourteen commissioned officers, two of whom are attached, one on Finance duty and the other on special duty in connection with the development of the Phillips pack saddle, eight warrant officers and Company “B” 4th Motor Repair Battalion. The civilian personnel consists of a clerical force of 53, a manufacturing force of from 52 to 59 and an outside labor force of 166.
Supplies in Storage
The total value of all supplies now in storage is approximately $40,000,000.00. The following are among the principal items in storage:
Escort Wagons 12,500
Field Ranges 28,000
Harness, Various Types:
Single Sets 32,000
Double Sets 7,000
Stoves and Ranges. 1,800
Motor Vehicles, all Types 2,200
Woolen goods to value of $5,000,000.00.
In war time, the scope of the activities of the Depot increase, as it has been designated to be a General Intermediate Depot for war-time operation. As a General Intermediate Depot, it will consist of three main sections, a Supply Section, Transportation Section and Replacement Section. Naturally, such an expansion will require the acquisition of additional land, the construction of warehouses, office space and manufacturing facilities, as well as the employment of thousands of civilian personnel. During the height of the World War period, when it was only a Quartermaster Intermediate Depot, a force of over a hundred officers and of nearly 28,000 civilians was required at one time, of which approximately 8,000 were regular Depot employees and 20,000 home operatives.
A board of officers at the Depot is now making plans for the permanent construction necessary during peace and the probable additional construction which will be required for an emergency, and plans are also being made for the acquisition of such additional land as would be necessary.
The Supply Section will provide for the procurement, storage and distribution of such Quartermaster supplies as are required by the Army in the event of a major mobilization and as have been apportioned to it for that purpose. It will manufacture in the Depot shops such items of clothing, personal equipment for officers and enlisted men, textile equipment, harness, saddlery and any other items apportioned to the Quartermaster Section for procurement, or which have been specifically authorized for manufacture by higher authority and for which Depot facilities are available.
The manufacture of clothing will include the manufacture of O. D. shirts by home operatives in various cities within a radius of 75 miles from the Depot. A field printing plant will be operated. It will supply the Quartermaster sections of supply points, designated as such by the Commanding General, Vth Corps Area, when ready to function and will retain supervision over the thirty-one National Cemeteries and Parks, as at present.
The Transportation Section of the Depot will be devoted to Motor Transport activities. It will store and distribute motor transport spare parts and vehicles to the Vth and VIth Corps Areas and to such other points as may be directed by the Quartermaster General. It will operate an overhaul park, which will repair vehicles and units for the Vth and VIth Corps Areas.
All other transportation activities, such as Rail, Water and Local transport, will be handled by the proper Depot Service.
This organization will train replacements for the Quartermaster Corps. Personnel for training will be furnished from the Vth Corps Area.