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1861 The Army of the Potomac
Strategic Supply of Civil War Armies Alan Aronson


With the Federal surrender of Fort Sumter in April of 1861 a new President was faced with what was fast becoming a shooting 'Civil' war.

The battle of Bull Run or Manassas of July 21st was a disaster for the unorganized and untrained Union army of General Irvin McDowell.

At Fort Pickens, Florida in early July of 1861 Rufus Ingalls was ordered to report to General George McClellan (a former Topographer)  as Lieutenant Colonel and aide-de-camp. The Federals would have a base established in the Florida Keys and Fort Pickens that would remain throughout the war.

On July 27th Lincoln appoints McClellan as commander of the Federal Division of the Potomac, later to be known as the Army of the Potomac. 

The Chief Quartermaster of the Army of the Potomac is Col. Van Vliet.  Van Vliet was the quartermaster in charge of the army that marched to Salt Lake City in 1857.   He may have been instrumental in avoiding bloodshed in what was called at the time the "Mormon War".  Van Vliet traveled to Salt Lake City ahead of the army to obtain supplies.

Most of 1861 would be fairly quite in the east after Bull Run.  McClellan was using the time to 'build his army'.   Lincoln is questioning McClellan on when the army is going on the offensive.

Rufus Ingalls Rank?

Rufus had been a Captain since January 1848.  One official source, Heitman's, from December 1862 outlines Ingalls' rank as Lieutenant-Colonel in September 1861 and Major in the quartermaster's department in January 1862 (it was approved by the Senate in April) and chief quartermaster of the army of the Potomac in August of 1862.  It also lists a nomination of brigadier-general in 1862.  It is confusing, but in his early service with the Army of the Potomac he is addressed as lieutenant-colonel or colonel. 


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Updated April 08, 2001 L.R. Davis