Quarter Master General’s Chest
This chest was most likely his personal chest, holding his correspondences, receipts, and notations about the American Army and the supplies they required or received. It would have traveled with him as he went around the country during the Revolutionary War.
View of the front of Pickering’s QMG chest.
QMG is carved on the center of the lid of Pickering’s chest
The Business of Being Quartermaster
By the time Thomas Pickering took the post as the fourth Quartermaster General, several changes had been made to the position. The Quartermaster General was allowed one Assistant Quartermaster General, a Deputy Quartermaster for the ‘main Army’ and one for each separate army, all appointed by the Quartermaster General. The General could also appoint a Deputy for each state to aid with outreach to storekeepers, clerks, craftsmen, and laborers.
The third Quartermaster General, General Nathanael Greene, disliked these new regulations, finding it lacking in manpower, funds for salaries, and was overall insufficient. He resigned after two years, requesting Congress immediately appoint a successor instead of waiting for General Washington’s decision, to which Congress elected Thomas Pickering. Pickering inherited a dysfunctional system with lack of funds and no unity within the staff. Despite this and all his troubles, he held the post for 5 years (longer than anyone previously). Following Pickering’s resignation, the post remained unfilled until 1791, and with only a few gaps during the 19th century, the post remains active till this day.
More can be learned about the provisions of beef and other rations that were given to the army by visiting Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History blog O Say Can You See.
Who Was Colonel Timothy Pickering?
Etching of Timothy Pickering, c. 1845. From the American Independence Museum’s Collection
Did You Know?
The Quartermaster General’s Post Today
Want to Learn More?
Books to Read
Timothy Pickering & the Age of the American Revolution – David McLean
Timothy Pickering and the American Republic – Gerard H. Clarfield
The Founding Foodies; How Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin Revolutionized American Cuisine – Dave DeWitt (available in the Museum’s gift shop)