Thursday, March 03, 2011

The Sutler.

A sutler or victualer is a civilian merchant who sells provisions to an army in the field, in camp or in quarters. The sutler sold wares from the back of a wagon or a temporary tent, allowing them to travel along with an army or to remote military outposts, Sutler's wagons were associated with the military while chuck wagons served a similar purpose for civilian wagon trains and outposts.

These merchants often followed the armies of the American Revolution and the American Civil War to try to sell their merchandise to the soldiers. Generally, the sutlers built their stores within the limits of an army post or just off the defense line, and first needed to receive a license from the Commander prior to construction; they were, by extension, also subject to his regulations.

Sutlers, frequently the only local supplier of non-military goods, often developed monopolies on simple commodities like tobacco, coffee, or sugar and rose to powerful stature. Since government-issued coinage was scarce during the Civil War, sutlers often conducted transactions using a particular type of Civil War token known as a sutler token.

Sutlers played a major role in the recreation of army men between at least 1865 to 1890. Sutlers' stores outside of military posts were usually also open to non-military travelers and offered gambling, drinking, and prostitution.


WAR DEPT., ADJT. GENERAL'S OFFICE, No. 27. Washington, March 21, 1862.

The following acts and resolution of Congress are published for the information and government of all concerned: I. AN ACT to make an additional Article of War.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That hereafter the following.

SEC.6. And be it further enacted, That no person shall be permitted to act as a sutler unless appointed according to the provisions of this act; nor shall any person be sutler for more than one regiment; nor shall any sutler farm out or underlet the business of sutling or the privileges granted to him by his appointment; not shall any officer of the Army receive from any sutler any money or other presents; not be interested in any way in the stock, trade, or business of any sutler; and any officer receiving such presents, or being thus interested, directly or indirectly, shall be punished at the discretion of a court- martial. No sutler shall sell to an enlisted man on credit to a sum exceeding one-fourth of his monthly pay within the same mouth; nor shall the regimental quartermasters allow the use of Army wagons for sutlers' purposes; nor shall the quartermaster's conveyances be used for the transportation of sutlers' supplies.

August 23, 1862.

Major General JOHN A. DIX, Fort Monroe, Va.:

I have the honor to in close a list of Union prisoners in addition to those forwarded yesterday. They are confined in the Libby Prison at Richmond:

R. C. Eveleth, sutler, seventeenth Regiment New York Volunteers.
William Westawary, sutler, Fifth Regiment Michigan Volunteers.
R. E. Parker, sutler, Second Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers.
J. W. Laughlin, sutler's department, Second Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers.
W. Kern, sutler's department, Fifty-fifth Regiment New York Volunteers.
G.. Mills and C. E. Gildersleve, sutler's clerks, Seventeenth Regiment New York Volunteers.
C. B. Mann, sutler's clerk, Eighteenth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers.
Samuel May, sutler's clerk, Twentieth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers.
William Phillips, sutler's clerk, Fifth Regiment Michigan Volunteers.
G. R. Salisbury and William O. Chapin, sutler's clerks, Fourth Regiment Vermont Volunteers.
L. G. Parkhurst and E. B. Fisher, sutler's clerks, Second Regiment Vermont Volunteers.

All the above named were captured on the 13th of June near White House Landing, Va. S. S. Mann, sutler, Eighteenth Massachusetts,


Numbers 23. In Camp, June 11, 1862.

It has been satisfactorily shown that W. G. Semple, sutler of the second Kentucky Regiment, contrary, to law, arranged with Wagon-master S. Hudson for the transportation of sutler's goods in government wagons from Hamburg Landing to the camps of this army, in consideration for which the wagon-master was to receive $10 per load, which stores were discovered in the process of transportation. In another case the goods of a sutler were found in process of transportation in Government wagons, but without the knowledge of the wagon-master.

The captured stores in both cases are directed to be forfeited, and will be turned over to the medical director for use of the sick and wounded. In the first case the sutler and wagon-master will be forthwith dismissed from their places, the wagon-master forfeiting whatever pay, not exceeding &100, that may be due him; and in the second case the wagon-master, for neglecting his duty, will be discharged, and the teamsters will forfeit whatever pay, not exceeding &25 each, that may be due them.

It is also shown that Shultze and Stewart, sutlers of Thirty-eighth Illinois Volunteers, engaged Wagon-master Wayman to haul goods for them, agreeing to pay the wagon-master $25 a load, and that one load was hauled under this contract. Wagon-master Wayman will in consequence forfeit whatever pay may be due him, not exceeding $100, and be discharged from the service. Sutlers Shultze and Stewart not belonging to this command the disposition to be made of them is left to the general commanding the army to which the Thirty-eighth Illinois Volunteers belongs.
By command of Major-General Buell:
Assistant Adjutant-General, Chief of Staff.

Kansas City, Mo., November 2, 1863.

Major General JOHN M. SCHOFIELD,

Commanding Department, &c., Saint Louis:

GENERAL: The dispatch of Colonel Weer to you of this date relates to a matter of which you will doubtless think I should have been informed, and should advise you.

I am reliably informed that two hundred wagon-loads of sutlers' stores are being sent to Fort Smith with the train which left Fort Scott Tuesday last. Alexander McDonald, of Fort Scott, a well-known merchant and Government contractor there, sends the goods, and himself claims appointment as sutler at Fort Smith, from General Blunt. It seems to be admitted the appointment is not regular, but it is expected that General Blunt will make it regular when he gets there. There is said to be $100,000 worth of the goods. I heard nothing as to the character of the goods, nor as to their being carried in Government wagons. It may be that all that Colonel Weer says on the subject is true, as I made no special inquiry on the subject. It is, however, commonly understood that General Blunt is interested in the prospective profits, if not in the investment. This is doubtless so.

I have been so crowded with delayed business since my return, that I have not been able to write you as to final disposition of the troops of my district for the winter; besides, I wished to see Colonel Weer before writing you, and he has just got in. I, however, recommend that the Sixth Kansas, which is in a bad condition at Fort Smith, as Colonel Du Bois has doubtless reported to you, be ordered to me, and the Fifteenth, which is now ready for the field, be ordered to relieve it at Fort Smith. The latter regiment should be kept together for drill and discipline. It has the best, but most outbreaking, material of the State. I cannot keep it together here. I ask to have the Sixth sent here, at the earnest solicitation of its field officers.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


There is a sutler's shop, containing nearly everything (except liqueurs), including cider, butter, eggs, milk, canned fruits, boots, &c., underclothing, and all the minor articles usually found in sutler's stock, of which the prisoners are allowed to purchase. Money received for prisoners form their friends is retained by the commanding officer and issued to them in small amounts in sutler's checks.

Hilton Head, S. C., September 11, 1864.

Major General SAMUEL JONES,
Commanding Confederate Forces in S. C., Ga., and Fla.:

GENERAL: I would respectfully call your attention to the following-named medical officers and non-combatants who are confined within your department, and request that they be released in accordance with the cartel and by the precedents established between ourselves:
Joseph Albert Doane, sutler, Sixteenth Connecticut Volunteers.

Brigadier-General, U. S. Volunteers, Commanding District.
FORT LARNED, KANS., June 15, 1864.
Major C. S. CHARLOT,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Department of Kansas:

I further, as a duty, must report the sutler, Jesse H. Crane, appointed by Government, as a duty, must report the sutler, Jesse H. Crane, appointed by Government, as selling whisky without stint, contrary to act of Congress, which says, "A sutler shall not see intoxicating spirits." He is also reported by many as selling revolvers to the Indians.
I have the honor to be, very truly, your obedient servant,
Major and Inspector-General.

Captain William Mills, Seventy-fourth Ohio Volunteers, acting assistant quartermaster, inspector of sutlers' goods. It will be his duty to inspect all sutlers' goods offered for shipment to the front, to see that no articles except those allowed by regulations and orders are permitted to come forward, and that the means of transportation at his disposal are so used as to do justice to all parties.

Washington, D. C., March 3, 1863.

COLONEL: I have the honor to inform you that in compliance with instructions received from this office on the 27th ultimo I proceeded to Annapolis, Md., to make an inspection of Camp Parole.

Sutler. - The sutler's store is more a refreshment saloon than sutler's store, though a tolerable assortment of necessary articles is kept.

Names of the Sutler.

Note. The date before the information is not the year the event took place, but the year the petition was read before Congress.

Benjamin S. Smoot, Dennison Darling.

Sutlers, Fort Bowyer, 1812.

These links are on a report on his claim, and his partner Dennison Darling.

This report is very interesting reading.

Note. The will be a enlarge box, just move your arrow around it will come up.

Charles Marklein, was a sutler of the 178th., New York Volunteers.

1827, The petition of the heirs of Shubael Butterfield, deceased, late a sutler in the Army of the United States, praying that the existing laws relative to the payment of sutlers' accounts may be extended to them.

1846,The memorial of A. H. Cole, late a sutler in the army, praying the payment of his claims for advances to United States soldiers in Florida.

1828, William Tharp, praying that the act passed by Congress, directing the payment of his accounts as a Sutler in the Army, may be so amended as to authorize an equitable settlement of said accounts.

1849, George Whitman, a sutler in the army during the war with Mexico, praying compensation for goods forcibly taken and used by troops of the United States.

1864, Gustavus A. Belzur, praying compensation for losses sustained while in the discharge of his duties as sutler of the 75th regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, in consequence of the capture of his goods by the rebels between Washington, D. C., and the army of the Potomac, in the months of May and August, 1863.

1820, James P. Smith, representative of the estate of Ambrose D. Smith, deceased, late of the state of Louisiana, praying for an equitable settlement of the accounts of the deceased as sutler to the second and third regiments of infantry during the late war with Great Britain.

1820, Joseph Potter, praying to be paid for the use of Iris house at Burlington, in Vermont, which was used as an hospital by the troops of the United States, in the late war with Great Britain; as also for certain stores and Other property, lost while acting as a sutler in the northern army.

1850, The President of the United States be requested to communicate to the Senate a copy of all the charges which have been preferred against John H. McKinney, late sutler at Fort Gaines, Minnesota Territory, together with all the papers touching the removal of said McKinney.

1830, A vacancy arising in consequence of the removal of General John Nicks, who is sutler to the garrison at Cantonment Gibson

1864, William B. Cutler, sutler of Excelsior brigade, 73d regiment, New York State volunteers, praying relief.

1854, Jesse D. Carr, sutler to the second regiment of Tennessee volunteers in the late war with Mexico, praying indemnity for property destroyed by the enemy

1850, John G. Smith, late sutler of the United States at Fort Mellon, in the State of Florida, praying for the payment of certain cattle certificates issued by Colonel Harney to a portion of the Seminole Indians, and purchased by him.

1848, Washington T. Bebee, praying compensation for property lost by him whilst acting under the appointment of sutler to the army in Mexico.

1844, Peter A. Carnes, late a sutler in the army, praying compensation for losses sustained in consequence of irregular orders of the War Department, and to be protected in his office of forage and wagon master, from which he has been irregularly dismissed

1862, The Secretary of War be directed to report to the Senate by whom and by what authority Silas Seymour was appointed brigade sutler of the brigade commanded by General Daniel E. Sickles.

1832, Elijah S. Bell, of the State of North Carolina, late sutler at Fort Macon, in that State, stating that, by permission of the commanding officer, he purchased of the sutler who preceded him, certain temporary buildings, and paid for the same; that it subsequently appeared the buildings were the property of the United States, and praying that he may be reimbursed the amount paid for them, or that he may be permitted to remove them.

1855, William Kendall, for compensation for losses sustained by him as sutler in the army of the United States during the war with Mexico

1827, John Middleton, late Sutler in the Army of the United States, stationed at Fernandina in East Florida.

1871, Silas Shoecraft, late sutler at Camp Frémont, Indiana, praying compensation for articles furnished the Twenty-eighth Regiment United States Colored Infantry while being organized at said camp

1827, William Bishop, praying that arrears of pay, due to certain deserters from the Army, may be applied to the payment of his claim against them, as sutler.

1870, Henry Welden, late sutler Tenth and Seventeenth United States Infantry, praying for relief.

1871, The claim of Julius Frank, for sutler's supplies seized by order of General Thomas, in 1864.

1846, S. Colbert Ford, late United States sutler at Carlisle, in the State of Pennsylvania, praying payment for the amount due him by the United States troops previous to their removal to Fort Gibson, and which had been collected by Colonel Wharton Rector, late paymaster of the United States army.

1834, Marinus W. Gilbert, of the county of Jefferson, in the State of New York, praying to be paid the amount due him and his brother, Thomas Gilbert, by sundry officers and privates of the 13th regiment of the United States army, in the late war with Great Britain, to which regiment his said brother was sutler.

William G. Sanders, late army sutler at Fort Brooke, in Florida.

William P. Wallace & Joseph R. McFadin, under the company name of, W. P. Wallace & Co., to be paid the sum of, $3,166.27, for duties paid by them as Sutlers, who imported goods during the Mexican War.

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