Troops and artillery had priority of movement on the march, while ammunition wagons took precedence over other supply vehicles. Keeping the wagons rolling was a priority for the staff of every army. For this reason, as seen in this example, the unit insignia and contents were usually displayed on the canvas top, which, among other reasons, was designed to aid the easy movement of wagons, because of the strict rule of precedence on the road. This box wagon itself was the workhorse conveyance of both sides. It was ten feet (3m) long and was pulled by a six-mule team. The driver rode the near pole mule and controlled the team by means of a single rein and voice commands.. The brake on the rear wheel was also operated from the saddle. Simple, easily maneuvered over rough ground, and dependable, wagons like this one carried such a wide variety of goods, ranging from ammunition to generals' baggage.
The Union Army's supplies moved on wheels, whether railroad or wagon, and a train of wagons, miles long, snaking its way along the rough roads of 19th century America, was a familiar sight. Responsibility for the management of such trains, including assembling the wagons and mules, fell to staff officers. Indeed, to produce just this one ordnance wagon for the Army of the Potomac's Cavalry Corps, a host of staff officers had to become involved - Ordnance, Commissary, Cavalry Bureau for the animals, adjutant to produce the orders detailing wagon-masters and teamsters, and more. Once the wagon was produced, however, it became the special province of the division ordnance officer, who looked after it, the mules, the contents, and sometimes even the men.
had to become involved - Ordnance, Commissary, Cavalry Bureau for the animals, adjutant to produce the orders detailing wagon-masters and teamsters, and more. Once the
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