Quartermaster - Program Outline

Working in the Storehouse

Title of Program: Fueling the Frontier: Quartermasters and Military Supply

Venue: Quartermaster Storehouse and Quadrangle

Intended Audience: Elementary Students

Tangible Resources: Wagons, Horses, Mules, Oxen, Supplies, Storehouse, Soldiers, Roads

Intangible Concepts:

  • Responsibility - It was the duty of the quartermaster to keep the fort supplied and to oversee construction. At Fort Scott, the quartermaster also served as the commissary, who was in charge of distributing food rations. The duty of the quartermaster was critical because he was responsible for supplying the soldiers with basic needs food, clothing, and shelter. An inefficient or corrupt quartermaster could make life miserable for the soldiers simply by failing to deliver the goods needed to maintain an efficient fighting force.
  • Maintaining Supply Routes - Because of the critical importance of supplies to the well being of the army, the army was often given the assignment of maintaining supply routes. Their duties included bridge and road repair. During wartime, some units were assigned solely to guarding the supply trains.
  • Fleet Maintenance and Repair - Just as it is important to Wal-Mart to keep their trucks in working order, it was important to the quartermaster to keep his wagons and draft animals maintained, hence the quartermaster quadrangle. The quadrangle had feed for the draft animals, blacksmith shops, etc. for the proper maintenance of the animals and the wagons.
  • Efficiency and Accountability - While not directly linked to transportation, the final step in the delivery of goods and services involved the proper storage of goods. Thus, the cleanliness of the storeroom, maintenance of the building, accountability of supplies all came into play, as did proper rotation of supplies. An unclean storehouse could attract rats and other vermin, food could spoil, supplies could disappear, and thus strict accountability for supplies and efficient operations were necessary at Fort Scott.

Intangible/Universal Concepts:

  • Survival -The job of the quartermasters was critical to the survival of the army. There is an old axiom that the army travels on its stomach. Without being properly supplied, the army could not do its job, and the entire nation could suffer as a result.

Theme: The quartermaster and commissary provided the army with food and supplies that fueled the army on the frontier; the effective delievery and storage of those supplies helped to assure the army's survival and well-being.


  • Describe the daily responsibilities of the Quartermaster Department
  • Explain the important role that the quartermaster played in keeping the supplies coming.

Objectives: After participating in this program, the student will be able to:

  • Name three types of supplies stored in the quartermaster storehouse.
  • Give the name of Fort Scott's first quartermaster.
  • List two activities that the Quartermaster Department was involved in at Fort Scott (e.g. building construction, repairing bridges, etc.).
  • Identify two challenges faced by the quartermaster, (eg. uneducated privates, bridges washed out, lack of funding for construction).

Suggested Activities:

  • Presenters could go into character at beginning of program and pretend that they are chasing a rat in the storehouse.
  • Recruit a couple of the children to help count inventory
  • Have some very light boxes for the children to place on the scale.

Resource Management/Safety Issues:

  • If lifting boxes and barrels, be sure to lift only the light ones and lift using proper techniques.
  • Caution students about tripping hazards if they go downstairs.
Barrels at Quartermaster
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Last updated: April 30, 2020

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