Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Great War: June 25, 1917

The first troops from the United States arrived in France on June 26, 1917. On the day before, a lengthy article appeared in the Hudson Evening Register describing the challenges of transporting troops from all across the country to France.

The Quartermaster Corps is just now the busiest department of the United States Army. Without it not a single company of troops could reach the firing line, not a soldier clothed, fed or armed.
To move the great army Uncle Sam is bringing into being means the marshalling of 121,580 railroad cars in 7,320 trains and directing them without delay or confusion over routes many of them over three thousand miles long. To keep this force provisioned in the field means supplying and shipping one billion pounds of freight a month, requiring fifty-five trains a day.
The Quartermaster Corps, in cooperation with Defense Committee of railroad presidents, has organized America's 260,000 miles of railroad, with its hundreds of corporations, into one system and plotted every mile and every train move over its myriad routes….
Quartermaster Corps officers must know every stopping point, length of sidings, junctions, capacity of terminals, loading and unloading facilities, size of tunnels, capacity of bridges, &c., along their routes.
The estimates of the corps are based on a force of twenty field armies, or about 1,500,000 men. With them go 700,000 mount and draught animals, 60,000 vehicles and 3,360 big guns. A tabulation of rolling stock and other railroad equipment just completed shows that to handle this traffic there are needed, besides more heavy cars, special terminal yards and sidings, loading and unloading platforms, double tracking of many single track lines and the building of new lines into undeveloped territory.
This means the raising of a vast amount of new capital by the railroads. The railroad executives believe that the systematizing and unifying of railroad control under federal authority, brought about by war preparation, will prove the value of such centralized regulation for permanent adoption by the United States as a peace measure. This vast increase of expense is putting the roads in shape for war is also given as one of the chief reasons for asking the Interstate Commerce Commission for permission to increase freight rates.   

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