Army Horses: An Overview of Markings

Hardtack, muskets, and haversacks are synonymous with the 19th century U.S. Army.  Aside from being used by soldiers, what do these articles have in common?  Army horses and mules transported all three items, and hundreds more like them.  All government property included some form of labeling and unique identification.  Packages of provisions had the contents, and often the name of the supplier, stenciled on the outside.  Muskets included arsenal marks.  Rifles, which replaced muskets, were stamped with unique serial numbers.  Some soldiers labeled their haversacks with indelible ink.  Later versions often had unit information (company and regiment) stenciled on the outer flap.

As previously discussed, horses and mules represented a substantial financial investment and required more thorough tracking.  How were the army horses and mules identified and described?  The Old Army used several methods to characterize those important assets.

A Wide Color Spectrum
examples of leggings markings found on army horses.
Examples of horse and mule leg markings. Top (left-right):
stocking, sock, fetlock. Bottom (left-right): pastern, coronet, partial pastern. Illustration prepared by Sara Sander and courtesy wikimedia commons.

Army horses and mules came in a wide range of colors and color combinations.  Color, therefore, was the basic descriptor, of government livestock.  Hues included chestnut, bay, gray, flea-bitten gray, buckskin, strawberry roan, dun, and black, just to name a few.  Animals often had distinctive body markings with patterns on the face and leg markings being most prevalent.

Early in the 19th century, U.S. Army regulations stipulated that units maintain descriptive books for horses.  The 1821 regulations stated that the books should include the age, height, and color of the animals.  The registers provided a ready reference for animals lost, injured, or sold.  For example, in July 1868, Lieutenant Ephraim Tillotson desired to buy a public horse.  Department of Platte headquarters consented to sell the animal once a board of survey convened to determine the purchase price.  The three-member panel valued the light bay horse with black feet, mane and tail and “no other marks upon him” at $61.66⅔.  More often, colors and markings were used in conjunction with brands.

Hisroric photo, from the Civil War,  of a U.S, Army soldier holding an army horse. This animal has a star on its face.
Old Army horses often had unique descriptive markings. The horse shown in this frequently used photo has a star on its face. Photo from Francis Miller’s The photographic history of the Civil War (1911) and courtesy wikimedia commons.
Army Horse and Mule Brands

In addition to requiring units to maintain descriptive books of public horses, the 1821 Army Regulation also required that “horses and draft cattle, in the use of a regiment, or of individual officers, will each be branded with the letters “U. S.” on some conspicuous part.

Example of brand placement for army horses in the Department of the Platte.
Regulations detailed the size and placement of brands on army horses and mules. In 1867, for example, the Department of the Platte provided the following illustration for horse brands.  The top characters represented the regiment and branch ( cavalry or artillery). The bottom letter denoted the company or battery.

The 1895 edition of army regulations further specified that horses for cavalry and light artillery “will be branded ‘U. S.’ on the hoof of the left fore foot, other animals on the left shoulder. Cavalry and light artillery horses will also be branded under the mane with the number of regiment and letter of troop or battery [emphasis added by author].”  The War Department clarified the branding further in 1897 by issuing General Order No. 62.  The order provided detailed instructions of the size and placement of brands provided by the Quartermaster’s Department.  For example, soldiers branded the fore foot 1” below the coronet.  The fore foot marking also included the regiment and troop or battery.  Regulations called for the ” U. S.” brand to be 2 inches high.

Brands provided ready identification of government stock.  More importantly, brands identified former horses and mules deemed unworthy of federal service.  For example, an “I.C.” brand showed that an animal was inspected and condemned.  A “C” brand simply meant condemned while an “S” indicated that the animal was either sold or destined for sale.  Together, the three brands were meant to prevent unscrupulous horse contractors from reselling unserviceable livestock to the government.

Descriptions of Army Horses and Mules Direct From Old Army Records

Unfortunately, few descriptive books of army horses and mules are extant, for the eighty-year period ending in 1900.  However, Old Army Records recently found a record kept at Fort Custer from 1887 – 1896.  It includes about 1,200 animals, many with names assigned to the horses and mules.  We also found descriptive data of public animals in other, seemingly, unrelated record sets.  Here are few examples of animals described in the records.

Take, for instance, “Signal” a 15-year-old black cavalry horse stationed at Fort Custer, Montana Territory.  In addition to a blaze on the face and small patch of white on his right hind foot, Signal had an “S” branded on the right hip.  “Fox”, a 15-year old sorrel mule driven by a man named Archer at Fort Custer, had a white spot on the left side of his neck.  Descriptive data also listed scars and physical deformities.  For example, a black mule driven by a H. Brown was blind in its right eye.  A quartermaster employee or soldier sarcastically named her “Blinky”.

Scanned image of a portion of a page from "Company C, Indian Scouts, Animal Descriptive Book (1882)"  showing private brands used on army horses and mules.
Horses and mules used by Co. C, Indian Scouts in 1882 had several different brands. Does anyone recognize them?

In 1882, Company C, Indian Scouts served in Arizona.  The unit assembled an extensive herd of saddle horses and pack mules.  The small herd consisted of animals with wide-range of colors and private brands (see photo at left).  Does anyone recognize the marks?  Several of the Scouts’ animals also had distinctive marks left by collars and aparejos.

Interested in learning more about horses and any other 19th U.S. military topic?  Drop us a line to learn how you can connect with the Old Army.

Sources

Unpublished Sources (indexed by Old Army Records)
Company C, Indian Scouts, Animal Descriptive Book (1882)
Fort Custer, M.T., Animal Descriptive Book
Proceedings of Boards of Survey, Fort Phil Kearny, D.T.

Army Regulations
General Regulations for the Army (1821)
Military Laws and Rules and Regulations for the Army of the United States (1814)
Regulations for the Army of the United States (1895, appended 1899)

Old Army Property: Sundial

While indexing general orders and circulars for the Military Division of the Missouri we came across a circular providing instructions on the use of a sundial.  The circular, issued on May 26, 1870, stated

[t]he annexed instructions for the constriction and use of sun dials [sic], prepared by Brevet Colonel William E. Merrill, Corps of Engineers, and Chief Engineer at these Headquarters, being of great practical value, are published for the information of the officers of this command.  Commanders of posts where there are no sun dials, will immediately cause such to be made for their respective posts, and all sun dials will be carefully protected and kept in good order.

Later, we found a general order, issued by the Department of Dakota, referring to the earlier document.  The sentence [c]ommanders of posts where there are no sun dials, will immediately cause such to be made for their respective posts… intrigued me and prompted the question:  do any Old Army sundials still exist?  But, before answering that question, we may ask:  why were sundials so important to the Old Army?

Importance of a Sundial

Essentially, sundials consist of flat plates and a gnomon, a fin-shaped protrusion that casts a shadow on the dial.  The observer uses the shadow, relative to sun’s altitude and/or azimuth, to determine the time.  Accurate timekeeping was essential for the effective running of an 19th century U.S. Army post.  The adjutant often served as the official post timekeeper.  His watch determined when the various drum or bugle calls occurred and established when the important task of guard mounting occurred.  However, sundials provided an approximation of the time.  Timekeepers needed to further refine the information to determine the true time as described in General Order (G.O.) 102, dated December 11, 1871, issued by the Department of Dakota:

The time given by a sun dial is solar or apparent time.  But as the sun does not move uniformly in his path, it is impossible to make watches follow his movements exactly.  The device has therefore been resorted to of supposing a fictitious sun, called the mean sun, which in a year passes through the same space as the true sun, and has a uniform motion.  Watches and clocks all show mean time.  To get mean time from the apparent time, which is shown by a sun dial, it is necessary to use a correction called the equation of time.  This correction is given in all nautical almanacs…published by the Bureau of Navigation of the Navy Department. 

The raw data derived from the sundial required further refinement to achieve the accurate watch time through a process known as equation of time.  A circular, issued by the Division of the Missouri in May 1870, included an equation of time table.

The Fort Randall Sundial

While researching extant sundials, I came across one in the collections of the Center for Western Studies, Augustana University.  The artifact is a brass dial plate from Fort Randall in present day South Dakota.  Established by order of General William S. Harney in June 1856, Fort Randall occupied a flat on the west side of the Missouri River.  For the next 36 years the post served as river-based supply and troop station.

The Fort Randall dial plate is nearly 12” square.  Arrayed along three sides are Roman numerals denoting twelve hours.  The name of the post along with the date (1871) and latitude (43°00’) of the fort, is inscribed at the bottom center of the plate.  The center of the plate has two slots, which supported the gnomon.  Unfortunately, the gnomon is missing.  One edge of the plate features the embossed initials U.S. Q.M.D., denoting the United States Quartermaster Department; the sundial was government issue.

The Quartermaster Department issued the Fort Randall sundial in 1871. Photo by the author with permission from the Center for Western Studies, Augustana University.

Dial plate embossing detail. Photo by the author with permission from the Center for Western Studies, Augustana University.

Surprisingly, the sundial does not appear on a plan view of Fort Randall, prepared in 1873.  A slightly different plan, illustrated in the 1876 government publication Outline Description of the Posts in the Military Division of the Missouri Commanded by Lieutenant General P. H. Sheridan, also does not show the sundial.

With the exception of the stone chapel, built in 1875, no extant buildings remain at the post.  The United States Army Corps of Engineers administers the archaeological site as the Fort Randall Dam and Lake Francis Case.  Today, a modern sundial sits in the middle of the parade ground, adjacent to the flagpole.

This detailed 1873 view of Fort Randall shows most of natural and built environment. However, the plan does not show the sundial, issued in 1871. From Report on the Hygiene of the United States Army (Billings 1875).

Other Old Army Sundials

The 1876 publication Outline Description of the Posts includes plan views of most stations within the Military Division of the Missouri.  At the time of publication, the division consisted of five departments (Dakota, the Platte, the Missouri, Texas, and the Gulf).  Soldiers manned nearly 90 stations within the division.  A review of plan views of military stations compiled in Outline Description of the Posts located about 10 posts that either showed the location of a sundial or listed a sundial in the map legend.  These plan views cannot be considered true representations of built features.  The quartermaster issued the Fort Randall sundial in 1871, but the dial does not appear on two plans of the fort prepared in the 1870s.  Nevertheless, the few illustrated examples provide insight into where sundials were typically located:

Department of Dakota
Abercrombie, Fort (on parade ground in front of guardhouse)
Abraham Lincoln, Fort (behind the adjutant’s office)
Wadsworth, Fort (middle of parade ground)

Department of the Missouri
Sill, Fort (on parade ground)
Supply, Camp/ Fort (denoted on the legend, but location undetermined)
Wallace, Fort (on edge of parade ground near the adjutant’s office)

Department of the Platte
Bridger, Fort (in front of the headquarters building)

Department of Texas
Ringgold Barracks (on edge of parade ground between the guardhouse and headquarters building)
Stockton, Fort (on edge of parade ground in front of “offices”)

As already mentioned, accurate timekeeping was essential to the Old Army.

Instructions issued by both the Division of the Missouri and reiterated by the Department of Dakota stated that “[the time] should be taken daily, at noon, when the weather permits, by the sergeant of the guard, and the guard clock…regulated accordingly.”  Although representing a small data set, documents referring to sundials in the division clearly show that the military installed the devices near the guardhouse or adjutant’s office.

What Happened to the Sundials?

The sundial at Fort Union, New Mexico is still in place.  However, a simple internet search failed to identify any other extant sundials in the area known historically as the Military Division of the Missouri.  Several reasons likely account for their disappearance.  First, souvenir hunters likely collected some dials.  Second, other dials probably ended up in scrap piles during World War Two.  Finally, sundials, such as the one from Fort Randall, ended up in museums.  Do you know the whereabouts of an Old Army sundial?  If so, please share it with us.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Center for Western Studies, Augustana University, and especially Liz Cisar, for allowing me to examine and photograph the Fort Randall sundial plate.

Sources

Unpublished Sources (indexed by Old Army Records)
Department of Dakota, General Orders, Circulars (1871)
Division of the Missouri, General Orders and Circulars (1870)

Government Documents
Outline Description of the Posts in the Military Division of the Missouri Commanded by Lieutenant General P. H. Sheridan (1876)
Report on the Hygiene of the United States Army (Billings 1875)

Old Army Numbers: Boards of Survey 1870

Old Army officers constantly served on boards of survey.  These ad hoc councils determined who or what caused the loss or allocation of government property and were discussed in a previous blog.  This post presents some of the details of boards of survey convened in the Department of Platte (D.O.P.) in 1870.

Composition of Boards of Survey 

About 11% of the U.S. Regular Army was stationed in the department (a list of these stations may be found here).  That amounted to 60 companies representing the 2nd and 5th Cavalry Regiments, the 4th, 7th, 9th, 13th, and 14th Infantry Regiments, and a contingent of Engineers.  Boards of survey involved  249 officers as either the responsible party (the person financially responsible for government property) or board members (1-3 officers tasked with determining the disposition of government property).

As the chart below illustrates officers from the infantry, cavalry, and engineers comprised the boards.  Interestingly, 29 officers not assigned to a specific unit, also served on boards.  In 1869, Congress mandated a substantial reduction in the strength of the regular army.   This law consolidated several units, mostly infantry, and left many officers without a command.  They had no specific assignment until a vacancy opened up.

Distribution, by rank, of officers associated with boards of survey in the Department of the Platte (1870).

On average officers were associated with boards five times during the year.  First Lieutenant Thomas J. Gregg, 2nd Cavalry, was a responsible party once and served as a board member the most (16 times).  All commissioned ranks, 1st Lieutenant through Colonel, were associated with the boards.  Not surprisingly, company grade officers were the most frequent responsible parties and board members, as shown in the chart below.

Comparison, by rank, of officers who were responsible parties or members for boards of survey convened in the Department of the Platte (1870).

Boards of Survey Subject Matter

In 1870, 294 boards of survey convened in the department.  The four major categories of government property were Commissary Stores, Quartermaster Stores, Ordnance Stores, and Medical Stores.  The following is a breakdown of the 294 boards of survey convened in the D.O.P. in 1870.  Examples from the categories follow:

Miscellaneous

This catchall category includes boards convened to examine more than one class of government property (i.e. commissary and quartermaster stores).  It also included a case Signal Corps stores and equipment (Fort Douglas) and determining the number and size of stoves required in a cavalry barracks and kitchens at Omaha Barracks.  The board concluded that buildings in question should have Pioneer No. 38 and Charter Oak No. 12 stoves, the latter with 5 and 25 gallon coffee boilers.

Medical Stores

Three of the eight boards convened to examine medical stores involved liquor.  They include the loss of 12 quarts of brandy (Fort Fetterman), 9 bottles of whiskey, 2 bottles of alcohol, and 4 bottles of sherry (North Platte Station), and one bottle of whiskey (Miner’s Delight).  In the latter case, the board determined that Sergeant John Schumaker, Co. K, 7th Infantry was responsible for the theft of the whiskey plus:

Ordnance Stores     

Ordnance stores, not surprisingly, included artillery, small arms, horse equipment, and associated equipment and tools.  Surprisingly, 17 boards convened at nine posts/ sub-posts to determine the responsibility for the theft of 120 firearms throughout the department.  The loss of these weapons also meant a large financial burden for the government.

 

In most cases deserters stole the firearms and, consequently, were accountable for the loss.  While deserting from Plum Creek Station one night in May 1870, Sergeant John H. Groover, and four others from Co. F, 5th Cavalry took 8 Sharps Carbines and 30 Colt Army Revolvers.

Although the board of survey absolved Groover’s company commander, Captain William Henry Brown, of responsibility for the loss, Captain John R. McGinness, D.O.P. Chief Ordnance Officer, wrote a brief admonishment.  In his opinion the revolvers “…should have been placed in the hands of the men of the Comp[any] in order that each man could be held personally responsible for their safe keeping.”  McGinness further stated “[t]he fact that five enlisted men, wishing to desert would connect themselves with such a suspicious circumstance as to carry 6 revolvers and a carbine or two in addition about their person or offer them for sale seems strange enough to excite comment.”

Quartermaster Property

This category is by far the largest and most diverse classification of government property.  In the D.O.P., boards of survey for quartermaster property convened for as little as one crosscut saw (Fort Bridger) to 3,532 itemized uniform components (Fort D.A. Russell).

Perhaps the most unique subject of a board of survey was a pontoon bridge located at Omaha Barracks, Nebraska.  The bridge included 13 pontoon boats, 14 boats oars, 21 incomplete boats, and 12 anchors.  The board concluded that the bridge was “…nearly valueless five years ago, and [it] has been in almost constant use ever since.”

Virginia, Pontoon boat used by the Army of the Potomac. Old Army Records, LLC
Boards of survey often condemned government property.  In 1870, a board, convened at Omaha Barracks, considered 16 pontoon boats, similar to this one, “nearly valueless.”

Commissary Stores

Commissary stores comprised the largest numbers of boards of surveys.  Most of these items were perishable and subject to rot and loss due to evaporation and dehydration (known in Old army parlance as “shrinkage”).   Boards convened to examine something as little as little as 13 pounds of ham (Fort D.A. Russell).  More commonly, boards determined whether these articles were fit for issue or sale.  The following is an example from Fort Fetterman:

Closing Remarks

From food to furnishings, boards of survey provide a wealth of information pertaining to the life of an Old Army soldier.  The information provided in this post is only a small representation of the data contained in boards of survey documents.  Feel free to contact us at admin@oldarmyrecords.com for more information on this subject.

Sources

Unpublished Sources (indexed by Old Army Records)

Reports of Boards of Survey, Department of the Platte (1866-1876)

Old Army Officer Duty: Boards of Survey

Duties of 19th century army officers varied.  The lowest grade officers (captain, 1st lieutenant, and second lieutenant) directed the day-to-day operations of companies and completed regular rotations as officer of the day.  Colonels, lieutenant colonels, and majors oversaw the operations of regiments, posts, and often districts.  All officers also served on ad hoc assignments.  These included councils of administration, boards of survey, courts martial, and courts of inquiry.  Over time, we will examine these types of duties, but will begin with a discussion of boards of survey.

What is a Board of Survey?

Officers, regardless of rank or duty, were responsible for public property at some point in their career.   Public property included any article purchased by or used by the government.  The main categories of public property included subsistence (commissary), quartermaster, ordnance, and medical stores (click here for a further description of public property).   Property could include anything from a bottle of ink to mountain howitzer.  Per army regulations, “[w]hen public property becomes damaged, except by fair wear and tear, or otherwise unsuitable for use, or a deficiency is found in it, the officer accountable for the same shall report the case to the commanding officer, who shall, if necessary, appoint a Board of Survey.” Regardless of how small or inexpensive the article, officers could be held financially liable for any loss or damage to the article.

Commissary of Regiment. Dressed beef by Mathew Brady. oldarmyrecords.com
Most boards of survey dealt with commissary supplies, such as beef.

In addition to examining arms, uniforms, and material, boards of survey determined the cause of the destruction of military buildings, due to fire or some other cause.  Boards also convened to identify the personal effects of deceased soldiers or to rectify the accounts of dead officers.  Sometimes boards recommended the destruction of  damaged property, including horses.

Proceedings

A commanding officer, through his adjutant, convened a board of survey by issuing a special order.  The order included the name, rank, and position of the responsible officer and the composition of the three officers composing the board.  Typically, the junior officer of the board served as the recorder, transcribing the proceedings.

Most boards of survey convened shortly after the arrival of wagon trains, laden with supplies, at their destination.  Perishable food items were susceptible to spoilage and wastage while in transit.  Not surprisingly, commissary supplies were typically the subject of most boards of survey.

"The Supply Train", 1876, Old Army Records
“The Supply Train”, 1876

The proceedings began by reviewing the bills of lading.  Typically, the recorder prepared a detailed list comparing the invoiced amounts versus the received amounts.   The board then physically inspected the property in question.  Boards had the authority to call witnesses and prepare affidavits in an effort to determine the facts of the case.  Witnesses could be officers, enlisted men, government employees, or civilians.  More often than not boards determined that the responsible party was not accountable for loss or damage.  Click here to see an example of proceedings.

Approval of Boards of Survey

Once the board prepared its written decision, each member signed the proceedings and forwarded them to the commanding officer for review and approval.  Copies were also provided to the responsible party and members of the board.  Occasionally, boards were required to reconvene to address any improprieties or consider additional information.

Next, the commanding officer submitted the proceedings to the immediate superior command, normally department headquarters, where the appropriate staff department (i.e. ordnance, quartermaster, inspector general, etc.) reviewed and provided comments on the findings.   Pay was withheld for enlisted men and officers deemed responsible for property lost or damaged.  If contractors were held responsible, their contracts were amended to recoup the loss.

Boards of survey provide a wealth of information pertaining to the supplies, equipment, and furnishings of the Old Army soldier.  These significant documents are often fragmented and incomplete.  However, Old Army Records will continue to digitize and index them.

Sources

Unpublished Sources (indexed by Old Army Records)

Reports of Boards of Survey, Department of the Platte (1866-1876)

Proceedings of Boards of Survey, Fort C.F. Smith, M.T. (1867-1868)

Proceedings of Boards of Survey, Fort Phil Kearny, D.T. (1866-1868)

Proceedings of Boards of Survey, Fort Reno, D.T. (1867-1868)

 

Published Sources

Revised U.S. Army Regulations (1863)

Customs of Service for Officers of the Army (1868)

Old Army Numbers: Horses and Mules

This is the first of a series of posts that presents a statistical summary of the Old Army.  The 19th century U.S. Army, as with today’s government, was rooted in paperwork.  In addition to the volumes of personnel data (descriptive information, casualty lists, desertion statistics, etc.) the army itemized supplies and equipment issued and consumed.  Some summaries, such as the Record of Animals on Hand at Posts in the Military Division of the Missouri, were short-lived.   Nevertheless, information in these documents helps us understand the sheer volume, expense, and paperwork involved with manning, equipping, and supplying the 19th century U.S. Army.

Horses and Mules

In 1866, and part of 1867, the Division of the Missouri headquarters staff compiled an inventory of army horses and mules present at the various posts and stations (71 in number) within the division; six posts did not have any listings.  At the time the division consisted of the Departments of the Arkansas, Missouri, Platte, and Dakota.  Quartermasters filed these reports every three weeks (ending on the 10th, 20, and 30th or 31st) of each month January – September.  Horses were reported as being either for cavalry or artillery use.

Of the stations reporting, Keokuk, Iowa had the fewest animals; only three cavalry horses during the week ending January 10th.  The number of cavalry horses reported ranged from 849 (January) to 3,906 (September) with an average of 2,179/month.

Profile of a horse showing the areas that should be closely inspected for fitness for artillery service (from The Artillerist’s Manual by Brig. Gen. John Gibbon, 1863).

Contracts issued for horses in the Department of the Platte in 1866 and early 1867 specified that cavalry mounts were typically 15 to 16 hands high and between the ages of 5 and 9 years old.  The government did not consider mares, studs, or white horses.

Only 11 posts reported artillery horses.  Weekly reporting numbers ranging from 4 to 125 and averaging 46/month.  Fort Bascom, New Mexico reported five horse during one week.   Fort Leavenworth and St. Louis had the most reporting periods (11 and 14 weeks respectively).

The mule represented the main livestock asset of the Old Army.  With the limited reach of railroads west of the Mississippi in 1866, mules were essential for supplying troops.  They were the transport vehicle of the day.  The number of mules reported in the division ranged from 3,912 (January) to 13,562 (February) with an average of 9,589/month.

Livestock represented a substantial financial investment for the government.  Contracts for 463 cavalry horses in the Department of the Platte averaged $148/ horse.   The Quartermaster Department (QMD) purchased artillery horses at an average cost of $174.78.  The QMD purchased mules for, on average, $150.18 each.  Based on a weekly reporting average of 2,179 cavalry and 46 artillery horses, the government spent about $330,532.00 in the Military Division of the Missouri.

Average # of Animals/ Month Cost (1866) Cost (2016)
46 artillery horses $8,039.88 $125,000.00
2,179 cavalry horses $322,492.00 $4,500,000.00
9,589 mules $1,440,076.02 $22,500,000.00
Total: 11,814/ month $1.8 million $27.1 million
Feeding Government Livestock

Army regulations stipulated that horses and mules were to be fed 14 pounds of hay and 12 pounds of grain, typically oats, barley, or corn, daily.  For remote posts the daily forage requirement of 26 pounds was difficult to maintain.  Posts established late in the year, before adequate supplies could arrive, often experienced supply shortfalls.  For example, in November 1866, Colonel Carrington, commanding Fort Phil Kearny and the Mountain District, issued Special Order 81: “[u]ntil further orders the issue of hay to public horses and mules will be eight pounds per day instead of fourteen and special care will be exercised to prevent waste of any kind or the access of any animals to the public stock of hay or corn in store.”

Contracts for hay ranged from $10.47 – $60/ ton and averaged $33/ ton (1.6¢/ pound), oats averaged 3¢/ pound, and corn 9¢/ pound.  Based on the average rates, the government was spending between 58¢ and $1.21/ animal/ day.  The following summarizes the average amount spent on forage for army livestock (11,814 animals), within the division every day, month, and year.  Cost estimates are for 1866 and 2016:

  Daily (1866) Daily (2016) Monthly (1866) Monthly (2016) Yearly (1866) Yearly (2016)
58¢ $6,852.12 $104,000.00 $205,563.60 $3.04 million $2.5 million $37.4 million
$1.21 $14,294.94 $223,000.00 $428,848.20 $6.7 million $5.2 million $81.1 million
Closing Thoughts

Horses and mules were an integral and expensive requirement of the Old Army.   Old Army Records is actively compiling and tabulating lists, such as the Animals on Hand at Posts, in an effort to understand how the supplies, equipment, and livestock affected the day-to-day activities of the 19th century U.S. Army.   If you have a topic suggestion for a By the Numbers post, please contact us.

 

Sources:

The foregoing information was compiled from the Annual Report of the Secretary of War (1866) and the following documents and document sets digitized and indexed by Old Army Records:

Record of Animals on Hand at Posts in the Military Division of the Missouri (1866-1867)

Register of Contracts, Department of the Platte, Office of the Quartermaster (May 1866-March 1870)

Special Orders, Fort Phil Kearny (1866-1868)