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This Business of War

This Business of War

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Recollections of a Civil War Quartermaster

Author William G. Le Duc, Foreword by Adam E. Scher

Minnesota Historical Society Press (November 15, 2004)

Amidst the din of battle and the chaos of armies on the move, William G. Le Duc of Hastings, Minnesota, writes of the frenzied life of an officer in the Quartermaster Department during the Civil War.


Concerned with the logistical details of supplying the Army of the Potomac as it bogged down during the Peninsula campaign or of commandeering a steamboat to relieve the siege and get food to stranded soldiers at Chattanooga, Le Duc tells his story of mud-choked roads, incompetent commanders, and what he understands as the crucial factor necessary for the Union’s success in battle: a well-supplied army. Through his close association with Generals McClellan and Meade, Hooker and Sherman, Le Duc learned to master the army’s bureaucracy and overcome the hardships of trying to keep Union supplies on the move. His compelling memoir is unique in depicting the details of life in the Quartermaster Department.

Praise for This Business of War:

“This is one of the best surviving sources on how the Union supplied its troops during the Civil War. Le Duc's lively memoir details operations of several western armies, and his friendship with General W. T. Sherman reveals much about living off the enemy’s country and Atlanta’s fall.” — Frank E. Vandiver, author of 1001 Things Everyone Should Know about the Civil War and Civil War Battlefields and Landmarks

Author information

William G. Le Duc (1823—1917) moved to the Minnesota Territory in 1850. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he volunteered into the Quartermaster Department and mustered out four years later as brevet brigadier general. He later served as the U.S. Commissioner of Agriculture from 1877 until 1881 and retired to his home in Hastings, Minnesota.

Adam E. Scher is a curator at the Minnesota Historical Society.

  • 184 pages
  • 6 x 9 inches
  • ISBN: 9780873515085

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