by Lenette S. Taylor
Kent, Oh.: Kent State University Press, 2004. Pp. xvi, 264.
Illus., maps, append., notes, biblio., index. $35.00. ISBN:0-87338-783-X
A civilian businessman, early in the war Perkins secured an appointment as an assistant quartermaster, and later as a paymaster, and served in the Army of the Ohio and later that of the Cumberland, in Kentucky, Alabama, and Tennessee, including service during such battles as Shiloh, Corinth, and Chattanooga. His duties seems like the material from which one can make an interesting book, but that is precisely what the author has done, taken a difficult, dry subject, and turning it into an informative, readable account of the logistical side of the war.
In the course of his duties Perkins managed the supply of fodder to the armies, conducted “midnight requisitions,” fed – and later paid – thousands of troops, and fought countless bureaucratic battles, all skills acquired through “O.J.T.”, as the Union had very few trained quartermaster and paymaster officers, and no training program for them. The book provides a good lesson in what it took to keep an army in the field during the Civil War, from uniforms and ammunition to pens and ink (the latter in two colors, black and red).
The book also provides a look at how Perkins career was initiated and sustained by an intricate pattern of family and social ties, and how he maintained his private interests whilst on campaign. A valuable contribution to an often-neglected side of the war.