The following exchange is from an archived thread in which Bob Rea and I discussed logistical tails. This topic was on my mind again, so I thought I'd post the old text.
Anyhow, in thinking of this, I wonder if it is possible to discuss the logiticl tail of the horse transported army with the army of today, and in relation to the impact of the horse and its replacement? I suppose it might not be purely possible, but it is sort of interesting to ponder.
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I heard on NPR yesterday that the current logistical tail, ie., support troops to combat troops (of all types) in the US military is 11 to one.
I wonder what it was during the Indian Wars, particularly in cavalry formations. Anybody have any idea?
What about for other conflicts?
Interesting idea. I heard that broadcast and would have assumed that the ratio was higher on the support side. For IW soldier, ratio was probably closer to one to one or lower.
Within companies or regiments, saddlers and farriers had to go into the skirmish line like everybody else. Support personell were usually just extra duty soldiers. Then there were the Ordnance, QM, and Commissary Sergts at the post and regt. levels.
Do we count men at the depots back East?
Do we count civilian employees? Teamsters, scouts, wheelwrights, blacksmiths, etc.?
Indeed Bob you raise a good point. I assumed that the 11 to 1 figure represents only uniformed members of the service. That would mean that the modern logistical tail would probably actually be higher, given that the military uses an awful lot of civilians.
It seems to me that in order to accurately analyze the 19th Century situation a person would also have to include civilian employees, such as teamsters, etc. And as the war in the West could not have been waged without the depots in the East, those folks would have to be included too. Still, the number would no doubt demonstrate a much, much, higher ratio of combat troops to non combat troops than we presently have.
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