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Chapter XL

Books and Documents > Medical Department of the U.S. Army in the World War, Volume III, Finance & Supply





At the beginning of the World War, the New York medical supply depot was located in 543 Greenwich Street, in a six-story and basement, fireproof, loft-type structure divided longitudinally by a fire wall. It had approximately 65,000 square feet of floor space and was provided with two elevators of freight type. The first floor was about 3 feet above the street level and provided along the front with loading platform of the same height for convenience in receiving and shipping. This floor was used for receiving, shipping, storage, carpenter shop, and offices for the receiving and shipping clerks. The sixth floor was used as offices, a display room for samples, an instrument repair shop, and for a limited amount of storage. One of the other floors was used as a packing and issue room and was adequately provided with shelving for supplies and counters for packing and storage. The remainder of the floor was devoted to bulk storage. On still another floor was installed a complete pharmaceutical chemical laboratory for the examination of such supplies as required a chemical analysis.

Early in 1917, in making plans to provide the equipment and supplies peculiar to the Medical Department, the Surgeon General decided to allocate to the New York depot the purchase of all those articles appropriate to general hospital use as distinguished from those required in the field or for veterinary use.1 It was further decided to relieve the New York depot of all small requisitions and to confine its issues to the supply of other depots where shipments could be made in bulk. It was intended to relieve it of all retail work and and confine its issues to wholesale distribution.1

When consideration was given these plans at the depot preparatory to putting them into effect, it was apparent that additional storage space and better warehouse facilities would be immediately required. More commodious office space and improvements in depot methods to adapt them to the increased activities became necessary. The great masses of supplies which must be issued could not be handled at the depot. The bulk of them must be shipped from manufacturers to issuing depots and ultimate distributing points. Definite lines of cleavage between medical and dental supplies and equipment must be
aIn Chap. II the number and location of the medical supply depots in the United States are given; in this section, the activities of the New York medical supply depot are recorded as representative of like depots elsewhere. Since the motor ambulance supply depot at Louisville was the only depot of its kind, its activities also are included.
b Except as otherwise indicated, the following statements of fact are based on “History of Medical Supply Depot, U. S. Army, New York, N. Y., during the European  War, May 10, 1919, submitted to the Surgeon General by Col. Frederick W. Hartsock, M. C., in charge.” On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O., 713-539 N. Y./1230-H .


established, and also between the various commodities. Receiving, shipping, and warehousing space must be increased to handle a volume of supplies the magnitude of which had never before been contemplated.

Fortunately about this time a building on Morton Street extending from Washington to Greenwich Street had just been completed and was available for lease in its entirety. It was a 10-story and basement structure with 120,000 square feet of floor space. and fireproof throughout. It was provided with ample elevator and sprinkler service and embodied the latest developments in storage warehousing. After a short delay authority for the lease of this building was telegraphed to the depot quartermaster, New York, by The Adjutant General, May 15, 1917, and the offices were moved thereto from 543 Greenwich Street shortly afterward. The new building was known as 628 Greenwich Street. A franchise was granted the New York Central Railroad, June 8, 1917, by the mayor of the city of New York, for the projection of a spur track from its main lines on West Street extending along Morton Street to Greenwich Street and in proximity to the new building. This permitted the placing of 6 to 8 cars at a time in front of the building for loading or unloading. This spur track greatly facilitated the receiving and shipping of supplies and obviated a vast amount of trucking which would otherwise have been necessary. Some delay was experienced in putting this spur into service due to transportation difficulties in securing materials to effect a crossing of the street-car lines on Washington Street. There were shipping platforms on Morton, Greenwich, and Washington Street fronts making it possible to load or unload supplies at three sides of the building at the same time. The long platform on the Morton Street side gave ample accommodations for 25 trucks at one time.

In the new medical supply depot the western half of the second and third floors was set aside for office space. The eastern half of the second and third floors was set aside for packing rooms. The ground floor was utilized for receiving and shipping departments, respectively. The Morton Street side of the floor was used entirely for receiving, and the back section for shipping.

The packing department was divided as follows: On the second floor, half of the building was set aside for miscellaneous bin stock, including drugs and all small items of hospital equipment of miscellaneous character. A system of steel stacks was installed with suitable packing tables and covered this entire floor. A miscellaneous assortment of proper bin stock was placed in this section.

An instrument packing section was installed on the anterior half of the third floor. It was equipped with pressed steel bins, suitable packing counters, and shelving.

The fifth floor was divided in two parts for packing. The anterior half was devoted entirely to X-ray packing and the posterior half to dental packing. Steel bins and steel packing shelves of the most modern type were installed.

The remainder of the building was devoted to warehousing, each floor carrying separate types of miscellaneous or special articles.

As the production of supplies increased, not only was the building at 628 Greenwich Street filled to its capacity but also that at 543 Greenwich Street. Relief from the congestion became necessary. Such supplies destined for


FIG.42.- New York medical supply depot

overseas shipment as could be stored at the embarkation depot of the Medical Department for this port were sent to Pier 45, North River, at the foot of Christopher Street. The congestion increasing during the winter months of 1917-18, further relief was obtained through the courtesy of the Treasury Department in the temporary assignment of 100,000 square feet of space in the Appraisers’ Building at Greenwich, Christopher, and Hudson Streets. The


need for extra storage space again became urgent by the end of April, 1918. To meet promptly the increasing demands upon the depot it was considered necessary to maintain maximum and minimum stocks not only for current needs but also to provide a reserve against emergencies. While overseas shipments could be made by direct routings of supplies from manufucturers to the piers in New York Harbor, a certain amount of supplemental stock in the depot was always necessary. It was not always possible to so coordinate the routings as to fully utilize the piers for that purpose. Lack of storage space was then retarding production.2

The effort to acquire this increase in storage space met with vigorous objection on the part of the director of storage, who held it imperative that no supplies be sent to New York for domestic distribution; that only by limiting rail traffic to and from New York to actual necessities would it be possible to handle overseas shipments with any degree of promptness, and that no space at any point in New York City would be authorized by his office for supplies to be shipped into that city for domestic distribution.3 In view of this objection the acquisition of additional storage space was held in abeyance for a time and and an effort was made to so rearrange shipments of supplies that existing storage facilities could be made to meet the requirements. It was contemplated that the New York depot would be used extensively for assembling unit equipment for base hospitals ordered overseas for duty. Bulky articles such as bedsteads, mattresses, pillows, and hospital furniture in general would be routed to Pier 45, North River, New York, for temporary storage, either at the Port Newark Terminal, Newark, N. J., or at the Bush Terminal in Brooklyn, N. Y., pending their transportation overseas.4

This procedure did not bring the needed relief. The volume of supplies handled by the New York medical supply depot continued to increase. The need for additional space and greater security of storage became daily more urgent. By July 1, 1918, the main warehouse, at 628 Greenwich Street, had become largely a combination office building and specialty shipping house. The great expansion of various departments, such as packing drugs, X-ray and dental supplies, utilized nearly the entire space in that building. The 543 Greenwich Street building, by that time, had come to be used for reserve storage, although it was poorly adapted to that purpose because of insufficient capacity and lack of adequate sprinkler system and elevator service.5

While it was not the policy of the Medical Department to store an unnecessarily large amount of equipment in New York City, a considerable quantity of reserve stock was always necessary at that point. To insure expedition in shipment and to safeguard against delays in making replacements for losses by fire, submarines, and other disasters, six weeks’ to three months’ replenishments of supplies were required. It was necessary, too, that an adequate stock be always available in New York to safeguard against delay in production, freight congestion, and other traffic reasons due to blizzards and bad weather in winter. To meet these conditions application for increased space was renewed in July. Authority was granted by the Assistant Secretary of War, August 12, 1918, for the lease of a nine-story and basement warehouse on the southeast corner of Greenwich and Leroy Streets.6 This building was


of fireproof construction, contained 131,000 square feet of floor space, and was equipped with adequate sprinkler system, elevator service, and all modern warehouse conveniences.5 It was taken over as part of the New York medical supply depot, August 19, 1918, and by the end of the following January had been practically filled with medical and hospital supplies. It was used entirely for bulk storage and was thoroughly accessible for whatever shipping was necessary when expedition demanded.


The personnel at this depot, at the time of the mobilization of the troops along the Mexican border in 1916 consisted of the officer in charge and one assistant, both officers of the Medical Corps of the Regular Army, one officer of the Medical Reserve Corps on active duty as chemist, and 28 civilian employees in the various grades of clerks, packers, watchmen, messenger, and skilled and unskilled laborers.7 During the fiscal year ending June 30, 1917, there was a slight increase in the civilian employees, chiefly among the laborers. From that date until the peak was reached in the fall of 1918, the increase in personnel was rapid.


It had been the policy of the Surgeon General for a number of years to utilize this depot for the training of medical officers in supply work. To this end junior officers were detailed to duty there for definite periods. Unfortunately the strength of the Medical Corps was too small to permit the assignment of more than one assistant to the depot at any one time. Fortunately, however, the few so trained, together with those who had gained experience at the other medical supply depots, proved sufficient to fill the key positions in administration, procurement, and distribution, and to supervise and direct the work of those less experienced. The number of the commissioned personnel had risen to 19 when the armistice was signed, of whom 14 were officers of the Sanitary Corps with rank from second lieutenant to major. Only two of the 19 officers were members of the Regular Army, the officer in charge and his dental assistant.


Civilian employees had been secured, for many years, in conformity with law and regulations through the United States Civil Service Commission. Laborers, for a shorter period, had been secured under the United States labor regulations.8 While this method had never proved entirely satisfactory in peace-time operation, no material inconvenience resulted from it. It was permissible, under the regulations, for the officer in charge to select one of the three highest on the register of eligibles whenever it became necessary to fill a vacancy among the employees in any position under civil service requirements. Selections were generally made after a full consideration of the records furnished by the secretary of the second civil service district and a personal interview with the eligibles certified.

Under the stress of war conditions the roster of eligibles in the second civil service district was soon exhausted in the effort to select the needed employees.


The number and classes of applicants being received by the Civil Service Commission were wholly inadequate to provide personnel for the special needs of the depot. Importunate requests for clerks, packers, laborers, etc., could not be met and recourse to other methods became necessary. Employees were secured wherever they could be had through advertisements in the daily newspapers and by other means. By agreement with the secretary of the second civil service district these employees were passed upon by the service and their appointments confirmed. The depot was enabled, thereby, to obtain the desired personnel as rapidly as needed.


In addition to the civilian employees who could be obtained through the civil service, it early became evident that specialists would be needed in every department and that they must be men of business ability, experts in their lines. Permission was granted by the War Department to utilize for this purpose an enlisted personnel to be selected by the depot. Plans to this end were made and carried out. Every department was scheduled for a certain type and number of young business men. The administrative assistant was detailed by the officer in charge to visit various large business houses in New York, explain the depot’s need, and request each firm to apportion one or two of its best young men for enlistment as assistants at the depot. These firms readily responded to this request, selected employees with requisite qualifications and sent them to the depot, where they were enlisted and assigned to duties in accordance with their special qualifications. By this means there was collected, in a short period of time, a representative force, every man a specialist in his line.


The organization obtaining at the time of our entrance into the World War, together with the methods of the depot, had fairly well met the strain of the hurried procurements of medical and hospital supplies required for the border mobilization. But even then it was foreseen that a great increase in personnel and storage space would be necessary if the depot were ever confronted with actual war conditions. The methods, satisfactory for peace conditions, must undergo extensive revision. The system in vogue was wholly inadequate to handle a situation so entirely different. Complications of an overseas war, and the tremendous increase in the volume of business to be handled, demanded a business system which would operate speedily and accurately, and be capable of expansion to meet any demand placed upon it. To develop such a system a number of efficiency experts were called in from various business organizations to make a study of the needs of a medical supply system and to suggest business methods for the expansion of the New York depot. A careful consideration was given to the best commercial practices and from them were selected such procedures as would fit into the peculiar type of activities required at the depot. The experts who studied the depot procedures made their reports and submitted their conclusions. These reports were then compared and a study made of their best points. The procedures considered most suitable for the


peculiar type of business handled by the depot were then extracted and utilized in the development of depot organization and operation. Continued efforts were made to create an organization along the most efficient modern business lines. The plan of administration of the depot was designed to coordinate the functions of warehousing and shipping, procurement and finance, and the general clerical staff into a harmonious whole; to act in liaison with the central agency of supply in the Surgeon General’s Office; to maintain contact with the local embarkation agencies for overseas shipments; and to keep in touch with the various methods and plans of the War Department. The general plan of organization of the depot as it finally worked out is shown below. 9


[Organization of Depot]


The principal administrative office was under the immediate direction of the officer in charge. In this duty he was assisted by an executive officer, who had charge of routine matters, such as plant protections, administration of personnel, both enlisted and civilian, and the policies of the depot and their relations to outside activities. In this duty was involved the maintenance of


morale, the conduct of business negotiations with port authorities, the city of New York, and outside commercial interests. The position required not only tact and personality but a thorough knowledge of local conditions in New York, general as well as business. Upon the efficient handling of these duties by the executive officers depended the smoothness and dispatch of the general operation of the depot. For a considerable part of the time the officer in charge conducted personally many of the negotiations for the purchase of supplies.9


This section kept records, prepared rolls, rendered required reports, and in general administered the affairs of the depot personnel. As the depot affairs increased it became necessary to divide the section into two subsections, one for enlisted personnel and the other for civilian employees.9


This subsection corresponded in a general way to a company office. It kept the service and clothing records and pay cards of the enlisted personnel of the Medical Department assigned to the depot. It prepared the pay rolls, morning reports, sick reports, change of status reports, returns of personnel for the Surgeon General’s Office, etc. It arranged for drills, musters, and such technical training as was considered necessary. It assigned personnel to the several departments of the depot in conformity with instructions previously received from the executive officer. It also looked after the general welfare of the detachment and performed such other duties as were assigned to it.9


The duties of this subsection were limited to the civilian employees on duty at the depot. It maintained a close and effective liaison with the office of the secretary of the second civil service district of New York. It looked more or less extensively after the welfare of the employees while on duty, and kept a check on their efficiency and the manner of performing their respective duties. It prepared the monthly pay rolls and the reports of the civil service employees required by the Surgeon General. It had general charge of the rest room and emergency aid. It prepared requests to the local civil service authorities for additional personnel and for changes in classifications. It had also the duty of procuring personnel from outside sources whenever the civil service rosters failed, and of arranging for their rating and assignment to the depot by that service.9


The method of handling and filing mail varied somewhat at different periods in the depot history. During the early months of 1917 the methods observed were those which had been in effect in the preceding period. As the volume of correspondence increased, the method of filing changed. The War Department system of filing according to classified subjects was installed in the early part of 1918.10


For a considerable part of the war period all correspondence was placed in the main files. As a number of departments in the depot and the complexity of the work increased, each department was permitted to maintain a file of its own. This file related only to matters handled by the particular department. In it were placed copies of the correspondence originating in or relating to the department. The original correspondence continued to be placed in the main files. Variations of the method were observed with regard to contracts, purchase orders, and requisitions. All correspondence relating to a given contract, purchase order, or requisition was attached to and filed with the contract, purchase order, or requisition to which it referred. Under this method full information of all action taken regarding any contract, purchase order, or requisition was immediately available upon reference to that contract, order, or requisition.l0

Special files were maintained for correspondence dealing wholly with depot personnel, whether civilian or military.

Letters of a confidential nature were kept in another file securely locked to prevent their unauthorized use.10


This section was the center of control and operations. It was under an officer designated as methods control officer. It operated entirely apart from any of the other branches of the depot and was under the direct orders of the officer in charge. It was in close touch with the many interlocking branches of the depot. The selection of personnel from the numerous appointees became a study of individual capabilities. Each section of the depot was placed under the charge of an individual more or less familiar with the particular duties of the section in the depot plan. It took but a short time to complete the organization, but it required months of experience and training to get the machinery into smooth operation. It was necessary at times to rearrange the personnel, to eliminate the incapable in order to effect a smoothly working business organization.9

The functions of the methods control section were to keep the business of the depot running smoothly. To accomplish this a daily review of each department was made to determine whether it functioned properly and in full cooperation with other departments. The methods control officer was authorized to effect any change, in a minor way, found necessary to accomplish that result. It was his special duty to know daily whether any department was falling behind in the accomplishments of its missions and how it cooperated with the other departments. Changes were made as they became necessary to readjust the phases of the organization and to care for the increasing business. There was close liaison and cooperation between the control section and all departments of the depot.9


Soon after the declaration of war the depot was expanded by the lease of the building on Morton Street. That building was made the center of operations, being fireproof and having a modern sprinkler system. It was made the warehouse center for materials which in case of damage by fire could not readily


be replaced. The depot offices were early transferred to that building. The question of plant protection arose almost as soon as the Morton Street building had been leased. The dangers which might arise during war from sabotage, foreign spies, and international interference were visualized. To overcome them the assistance of numerous governmental agencies already existing was sought. The Department of Justice, in connection with the United States Secret Service, was requested to furnish agents for assignment to duty in the depot on plant protection. A number of operatives were assigned for this work. The chief operative had charge of the checking system on employees. The Western Electric method of photographing and furnishing cards to all depot personnel was put in force. Confidential agents were distributed in all parts of the depot. The chief agent was designated superintendent of labor, and had under him a number of watchmen whose duties were similar to those of watchmen in business concerns. In addition to their ordinary duties the watchmen were required to maintain a careful check on the sprinkler system and the engineering facilities of the plant.9

A detachment of soldiers in uniform, fully armed and under a special officer, was maintained both as inside and outside guard. This detachment maintained patrols in the adjacent vicinity for additional security. A house-to-house inspection was made by Government agents of all the buildings in the immediate vicinity of the warehouses. In this search two definite foreign agents were apprehended and interned at Fort Oglethorpe for the remainder of the war. The Military Intelligence Department provided a number of operatives whose business it was to prevent fraud, theft, and irregular business methods in connection with outside agencies. The buildings were provided with automatic alarms and a fire-control system connected with the American District Telegraph. The windows on the side of the street adjacent to the elevated railway were protected by metal shutters to prevent bombs and incendiary material being thrown into the building from the railway trains. As a result of the measures taken only one fire occurred, and in that instance the alarm was given so promptly by the mechanical devices installed in the building that the fire was extinguished without material loss.9


The utilities section had general charge of the janitor service in the various warehouses, of the sprinkling system, and of the maintenance of heating, electric light, telephone, and fire-alarm systems. This section was immediately under the superintendent of labor. It had as one subsection a carpenter shop and as another a box-making department and labeling machine. The utilities section also maintained a cold-storage plant for the preservation of serums and other biologicals and a vault for the safe storage of narcotics and alcoholics. The vault for narcotics was under the charge of the superintendent of labor personally. He was the only person permitted to carry the keys and was responsible for their safe-keeping. Issues from this vault were made only on requisition slip from the packing department and were handled by a specially designated packer.9



A force of messengers of varying size was maintained primarily under the jurisdiction of the executive officer. They acted as inside and outside messengers in the handling of mail and in a general messenger service.


In the reorganization of the depot, in the early part of 1917, following the declaration of war, the purchase section of the peace-time administrative division became the purchasing department. It was known by that title until January, 1919, when the depot was consolidated with other supply agents in New York into a single organization under the direction of the zone supply officer. It was rapidly expanded to handle the vast quantities of supplies being purchased. It developed in conformity with prevailing commercial practice. The department was divided into sections along commodity lines. The sections, as a rule, handled two or more allied commodity groups. It had as its chief an officer of the Sanitary Corps selected for his special qualifications as a purchasing agent in civil life. He was assisted by commissioned, enlisted, and civilian personnel in such numbers as the needs of the work required. This personnel was assigned to duties in accordance with individual qualifications and training. As a result the organization developed rapidly in efficiency.11

The department was very closely associated with the inspection department, the warehousing department, the finance department, the property records department, and the production department. Its closest associates were the inspection and production departments, the development of which was practically simultaneous with that of the purchasing department and covered the same geographical territory. At first they functioned as sections of the purchasing department, but as the volume of purchases increased and the demands for supplies became more acute they were organized into separate departments.11

Each commodity section had a chief, selected because of his familiarity with the particular commodity in civil life. These chiefs of sections were obtained from representative business organizations in the city and were inducted into service for the particular duties to which they were assigned. They were familiar not only with the commodity as such, but also with the sources of supply of raw materials which entered into it and the manufacturer who produced the commodity. Each section was provided with adequate personnel, enlisted and civilian. The enlisted personnel were also selected from local commercial houses for their technical qualifications in the procurement of supplies. The civilian employees furnished for the most part the clerical and stenographic assistance. The purchasing and the procurement activities of these sections reached their height about the end of March, 1918; thereafter both gradually diminished as the activities of the general purchasing office, Medical Department, in Washington, increased and as centralization of procurement through interbureau requisitions developed.11

A complete list of manufacturers and large suppliers of all articles to be purchased was kept in this department. Whenever purchases were to he made, circulars of advertisement soliciting bids on the articles required were sent to


such firms on the list as manufactured the articles desired. With very few exceptions all purchases in large quantities were made direct from the manufacturers rather from wholesalers or jobbers. If the quantities were small, the articles actually in stock and the prices reasonable, orders were placed wherever the article could be obtained to advantage. When time permitted, circulars of advertisement were issued by commodity groups and sent only to the manufacturers of those groups. If the time were limited and the demand urgent, a general circular covering all the articles required and including a number of different commodity groups was issued. Copies of this circular were sent to all the manufacturers of the commodity groups involved in the circular. Each manufacturer bid on the articles he could produce. As the bids were received at the depot they were kept unopened in a secure container until the day for the opening arrived. The circular always contained an invitation to the bidders to be present, either in person or by representative, at the formal opening. Many of the bidders availed themselves of the opportunity and were present. On the day and at the hour set for the opening the bids were formally opened and were read in the presence of the purchasing officer and such bidders as were present. Abstracts were prepared as the bids were read. Samples were requested when considered necessary in making the award. After all factors had been considered awards were made and contracts prepared. The quantities to be purchased were often much larger than a single manufacturer could produce within the limited time available. Awards were accordingly divided among the bidders in conformity with their production ability. The lowest bidder was given all he could produce and an effort was made to secure the article from the other bidders at the same price. In some articles, such as mattresses, the combined output of all the manufacturers hardly sufficed to meet the requirements. Awards were usually made on the basis of the quantities promised within 60 or 90 days. Contracts were written and, after signature by the contractor and contracting officer, were sent to the Surgeon General for approval. A sufficient number of copies of the contracts were prepared to furnish the required information to the several interested departments of the depot. Statutory requirements for the filing of a copy of every contract with the returns office, Department of the Interior, were duly observed. 11

A copy of every approved contract was kept on file in the purchasing department and numbered serially as issued. Prior to 1917 no system of numbering contracts had been used; contracts were identified by the date and the name of the contract. A system of numbering contracts serially was started July 15, 1917, beginning with number 100. The series was continued in direct numerical sequence until December 31, 1917, when the number 1885 was reached. Beginning January 1, 1918, a new series was started with the number 2,000. This series continued until the close of the war. No special classifying symbol or letter other than the contract number was used. The contracts approved in the office of the Surgeon General bore an additional number given them by that office. The number given in the Surgeon General’s Office followed one general series for all the depots from 1 upward, beginning June 15, 1917.12

Not all purchases were made by contracts. Under statutory authorization the purchases of $500 or less could be made in the open market without


advertising. These purchases were made on purchase orders. If immediate deliveries could be made, the amount of the purchase on purchase orders often exceeded the $500 limit. Purchase orders had been in use in the same form for many years and had been numbered consecutively in one series during that time. The number of that series had reached No. 24000 when war purchases began. It was discontinued July 23, 1917; the final number in the series being 26700. The following day a new series was started beginning with No. 1. This series continued in use until the end of 1918. The numbers in the series had exceeded 18,000 by the end of June, 1918. Purchase orders did not require approval by the Surgeon General’s Office and consequently were not numbered therein.12

After each contract had been written, a card index was prepared showing the name of the manufacturer, the date of the contract, the articles being purchased, the price paid, and the promised rate of delivery. Another index was also prepared showing the same data for the individual article. From the one card could be readily obtained the information concerning the contractor and his deliveries; from the other file could be obtained at a glance all data relative to any war article.11


The purchase section of the administrative division of the peace organization of the depot had a subsection known as records and follow up. The duties of this section were to maintain contact with the firms with whom contracts had been placed, to follow production, and expedite deliveries. In the peace organization these duties had been comparatively simple. When the increased purchases extended to the Mexican border mobilization in 1916 the duties of this subsection were considerably expanded. In those purchases a great many shipments were made direct from the manufacturers to their ultimate destination. This subsection then took on the added function of keeping in contact with the contractors and followed deliveries until the articles ordered from them had been delivered to the transportation agency. It became necessary to expand it still further after the purchases of war requirements began. The subsection was accordingly expanded and became the production department. It was placed under an officer of the Sanitary Corps with extensive experience in factory organization and production work.

The organization of the production department followed in general that of the purchasing department. The energies of the department were directed: First, to a record follow up of the state of production of every article and order;9 second, assisting manufacturers in procuring needed raw materials through the Priorities Board in Washington; third, rendering such assistance. It made suggestions and gave technical advice with reference to the best method of production for the expedition and delivery of the fabricated materials. The department kept exact records of all contracts, where they were placed, the state of production, shipment, and deliveries. The records were so arranged and kept that information was available at all times concerning the status of production. It cooperated with the Priorities Board in a special effort to obtain


the best special priority on materials and their prompt delivery. The urgency of war demands often required a higher priority rating on some of the materials than was possible for the expedition of manufacture. Shortage of materials often involved a study on substitution. It was often necessary to change the original specifications for equipment by reason of these substitutions and because other materials were more readily available.9

The production department in conjunction with the inspection department was continually on the lookout for new sources of supply and for new facilities which could be converted to the manufacture of articles required by the Medical Department in which the standard sources of supply proved inadequate.9


War conditions which wrought such changes in the procurement of supplies required equally marked changes in the routine inspection of supplies. The vast quantities to be purchased and the inability from lack of time and space to handle all supplies through the depot made it necessary to transfer the point of inspection from the place of receipt of the supplies to the place of their manufacture. This revolutionized the entire procedure. The demand for supplies was urgent and incessant and the need for prompt inspection became imperative. Payment for supplies delivered waited upon acceptance. Acceptance, in turn, had to wait on inspection to determine whether deliveries conformed to contract requirements. Acceptance had also to precede the issue of the articles. The prompt placing of supplies in use was dependent in no small measure upon the facility and speed of the inspection. Acceptance without inspection was not a wise procedure and would have established dangerous precedents.

Prior to the war none of the depot employees had been trained in the technique of inspection of supplies. Other provisions for the inspection of the supplies to he purchased became neccessary.. Fortunately for the Medical Department and for the New York medical supply depot in particular, other means were provided. The services of expert merchandise appraisers of the United States customs service had been tendered to the War Department for the inspection of supplies and had been placed at the disposal of the depot. This obviated any need to organize a corps of inspectors employed directly by the depot. The original agreement with the appraisers’ force contemplated that one of the deputy appraisers would establish an office in the depot from which to handle and direct all inspection service rendered by the appraisers’ personnel.13 This official was to have been the immediate point of contact between the two services.

The progress of procurement soon demonstrated the need of a department within the depot to handle all details relative to the inspection of supplies. In the first few months after the declaration of war the personnel of this department consisted, in addition to those in the medical laboratory, of one officer and two or three enlisted men.14 Its duties were limited to the examination of such supplies and samples as were received at the depot. As the volume of deliveries and direct shipments increased there was added to its duty of depot inspection the supervision and coordination of field


inspection. During the year 1917 this department was concerned only with the inspection of supplies purchased by the depot of which it was a part. It later became the clearing house for inspections made by the appraisers for the other purchasing agents of the Medical Department, both at Washington, D. C., and at St. Louis, Mo.14

The department had practically reached the height of its activities in the fall of 1918, when it handled nearly all field inspections of the Medical Department. It was organized along establishing commodity lines and was similar to that of the purchasing department, with which it cooperated very closely. As finally developed the inspection department had the following divisions:  Main division, laboratory division, instrument division, appraisers division. The department was under the charge of an officer of the Medical Reserve Corps assisted by such number of officers of the Sanitary Corps, enlisted personnel of the Medical Department, and civilian employees as were necessary. The number of personnel fluctuated from time to time, but reached its maximum in the autumn of 1918.14


This division was in charge of a commissioned officer and had a personnel of approximately 30. It was divided into nine branches: Textiles, leather and rubber, hardware, hospital supplies, drugs and medical supplies, instruments and surgical supplies, medical and surgical appliances, packing, miscellaneous.

The personnel of this division were selected for their special qualifications and technical knowledge of the lines to which they gave their time. Several of them were graduates of technical colleges; others were successful business men. Every man was assigned to the particular duties which, by training and experience, he was best qualified to perform. The business men handled the same commodities they had handled in private life.14

After the department had been completely organized, the bulk of all inspections was made at the plant where they were manufactured Every manufacturer when accepting a contract was informed that inspection and acceptance of the supplies by the inspection department would be required before shipment. As supplies were completed and became available for shipment the manufacturer informed the department of the quantities ready for inspection. An inspector then visited the plant, inspected the supplies, and made his report to the depot. If the report were satisfactory the supplies were released for shipment and the consignee was notified. The consignee, if other than the New York depot, notified the inspection department upon receipt of the shipment, and the supplies, if they had been already inspected and accepted, were released to him at once. If a chemical examination were necessary to acceptance, samples taken at random from the lot were sent to the inspection department and the supplies held until notice of acceptance had been received. These measures were taken to prevent shipment being made without the knowledge of the depot or without an examination to determine whether the quality of the article shipped conformed to the stipulations of the contract. As a rule all packages in which the supplies were examined by the inspector were marked by him,


"Inspected and passed." This was required before a shipment could be made unless delivery was to be inspected at destination. This service of inspection was extended ultimately to every factory from which the Medical Department purchased its supplies.14

Many of the articles purchased required technical examination. Occasionally this could be made at the factory, but as a rule it was necessary to send a suitable number of samples to the depot for examination, either in its own laboratory or in that of the United States appraisers, where the requisite facilities for such examinations were available. Inspections by standard sample could not, of course, be made in the field, especially where the article was being produced at the same time by a number of different factories. It became necessary therefore, to develop standard specifications by which articles could be purchased and to which deliveries must conform. The inspection department, largely through the cooperation of the appraisers division, compiled these specifications as rapidly as possible. Manufacturers were consulted in the preparation of specifications and very generally cooperated with the depot in their preparation and in deliveries of supplies purchased under them.14
As the volume of supplies required by the Medical Department increased, new sources of supply became necessary. In developing new sources of supply, factory inspections to determine facilities, capacity, and suitability of the plants were frequently necessary. Such inspections were made generally by the appraisers division, but often by personnel from the main division. These inspections served a very useful purpose in placing contracts. Generally the inspector working in that vicinity inspected the particular articles for which the new facility was required.14


This division was the normal development of the section of the same name during peace-time administration. The same officer remained in charge of it during the war who had been in charge prior to 1917. The peace-time personnel of this division had consisted, beside the officer in immediate charge, of a civilian assistant chemist and a laboratory attendant. The assistant chemist, having received a commission in another branch of the Army, left the depot at an early date and was replaced by an officer of the Sanitary Corps, who remained on that duty until mustered out in the general demobilization of the emergency forces.

The great increase in the quantities of articles purchased which required a chemical examination likewise greatly increased the work of this division. The initial personnel was augmented from time to time, but for a number of months the increase was not as rapid as the increase in the volume of work required. Delays in reporting upon samples increased and were often aggravating. The question of utilizing the services of the chemists of the customs service as an auxiliary to the laboratory division was at one time considered with a view of having the examinations made in various parts of the United States by chemists located near the point of manufacture. The examination of pharmaceuticals, however, required qualifications not possessed by the average analytical chemist. The plan was discarded in favor of expanding


existing Medical Department laboratories and increasing the number of chemists. It was expedient that the knowledge of the chiefs of these laboratories in examination of pharmaceuticals, gained by years of practical experience, be utilized in the supervision of the work. Without pharmaceutical training the average analytical chemist was unable to render an intelligent report on the examination of medicines, tablets, ointments, and the like. The chiefs of the laboratories supervised and directed the work of less experienced pharmaceutical chemists and thereby secured very satisfactory results. Steps were taken to increase the force at these laboratories. Personnel with training as analytical and pharmaceutical chemists were selected from the draft and assigned to the laboratory division in June, 1918. From those so assigned the most suitable were selected for the laboratory service. The numbers so obtained were ample. When the armistice was signed the force in the medical laboratory division consisted of two officers, six enlisted chemists, a laboratory assistant for the care of the laboratory utensils, and as many civilian attendants and stenographers as were necessary.15

The work of the medical laboratory division, while greatly augmented in volume, followed very closely the routine of pre-war days. Samples of articles to be examined were received through the main division of the inspection department from deliveries as they came in. The required examinations were made in the laboratory and the results were recorded on a suitable report form. The original of this form went to the main division for appropriate action. A duplicate copy was retained in the files of the laboratory for reference. Due to shortages in the supply of certain raw materials essential to the manufacture of pharmaceuticals and to manufacturing difficulties, the custom grew up of requiring samples to be furnished by the manufacturer prior to shipment and in many cases prior to the contract. These samples were examined to determine whether they conformed to contract stipulations. The analysis of the samples taken from deliveries was checked against that of the original samples.16 This procedure increased the work of the laboratory division, but was considered necessary to insure the delivery of articles of the quality required.


It should be noted that the three divisions already mentioned functioned wholly within the depot. The appraisers division functioned almost wholly without the depot. A few expert examiners assisted with the inspection of surgical and dental instruments in the depot. The appraisers division was under the charge of a deputy appraiser who had an office in the appraisers stores, a building just across the street from the depot. The personnel of this division was divided into three groups, A, B, and C.

Group A handled principally articles made of metal, wood, and the like. It had the following divisions: Surgical instruments and dental instruments; sterilizers, disinfectors, operating-room equipment; enamel ware, galvanized-iron ware, copper utensils, syringes, hospital beds, bed screens, instrument boilers; kerosene stoves, flash lights, and tin containers; clocks, mirrors; the components of Carrel-Dakin apparatus; X-ray apparatus.


Group B was in charge of textiles: Mattresses, pillows, towels, bandages, absorbent cotton and sheets; clothing; bias bandages; blankets; oilcloth; paper; general inspections.

Group C was given laboratory inspections, including clinical thermometers; balances; foodstuff; sutures; brushes, sponges, chemical glassware; rubber goods, scientific apparatus; glassware and leather products.

The personnel assigned to the inspection of the different articles had bad special training in the examination of the articles assigned to them. On October 24, 1918, there were, including the chiefs of the groups, 37 examiners devoting their whole time to the inspection of supplies for the Medical Department, while 30 others gave part time.17

The laboratory of the appraisers warehouse not only was equipped for chemical analysis but was provided with a great variety of apparatus for technical examination of articles which were not ordinarily subject to chemical analysis. The laboratory was equipped for making tests of tensile strength, the ductility and other qualities of textiles, metals, leather, and various other materials.14

The appraisers division was the agency through which the inspection department maintained contact with the examiners in the field. The deputy appraiser in charge was able, through authority granted by the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, to arrange with the appraisers in other parts of the United States to make needed inspections at points outside of the zone ordinarily handled by the appraiser of the port of New York.

The inspector reported not only upon the articles which the manufacturer had ready for shipment at the time of the inspection, but also upon plant facilities, labor conditions, sanitary conditions of the factory, and any other factor which was considered by the inspection department of importance to production. Forms and reports were devised having printed headings so that it was possible for an inspector to render his report with a minimum of clerical work. 18 The required data were entered as indicated by the heading on these reports. Samples of these forms appear below. Various forms were used for specific purposes but all were developments from, or modifications of, those quoted below.










The inspection department was organized and its work carried on in such a manner as to cooperate most closely with the other departments of the depot to facilitate the delivery of supplies. It suggested the wording of specific contracts to insure that the desired type of the article would be purchased and that the packing requirements would be properly stated. It furnished the production department complete information concerning the plants from which supplies were being purchased and whether contractors would or would not be able to make shipment on the dates specified in their contract. If delays in production occurred, the inspection department investigated them, through its field inspectors, to determine the cause and to effect a remedy. It furnished the production department in New York and Washington reports on labor organizations, types of employees, materials on hand, and other details relating to Medical Department contracts. The information in these reports was obtained at first hand by investigations made at the plants of the manufacturers.14

The chief of the inspection department was made a member of the purchasing board or board of contract awards during the latter months of the war. Under the system adopted for the purchase of supplies, many articles were sent to the experts in the appraisers office for examination before purchase was made, in order that the best articles, and those most advantageous to the Medical Department, from a financial standpoint, might be selected. Specifications were modified and new specifications prepared whenever it was found necessary to meet the requirements of existing conditions.14


In the reorganization of the depot to meet war conditions the finance section became the finance department. Within a few months it had expanded from a single individual to an organization of more than 100; from handling a few hundreds of vouchers per month to handling several thousands of vouchers per week; from disbursements of approximately $100,000 per month to disbursements running into millions of dollars per month. The expansion occurred under trying conditions. Qualified personnel were difficult to secure and time was essential for their proper training in the Government methods of finance and accounting. The depot was fortunate in securing the assistance of a local banking expert who took charge of the finance department. His technical training in civil fiscal matters proved to be of great value in handling the finances of the depot. Assistants were provided and trained to perform the technicalities of disbursements.9

The duties of the finance department were the same as those of its predecessor, the finance section. They were governed necessarily by statutory requirements. The new condition which had arisen called for various modifications of peace-time procedures and routine methods. Changes were


necessary to insure accuracy and efficiency. Disbursements rose steadily and reached their maximum of $5,250,000 during the month of April. They declined steadily thereafter to December, 1918, when approximately $2,250,000 were disbursed.19

During peace time the purchases were small and a large proportion of them were made on purchase orders. Under war requirements, while a great number of purchase orders were issued, the bulk of the procurement was by contract. Under peace-time procedure deliveries were made at the depot. War requirements demanded that the bulk of the shipments be made direct from the factory. Peace-time requirements had demanded advertising for proposals. War conditions and the instructions of the Secretary of War required procurements to be made without advertising. Usually the procurements were of such size that it was not a question of competition in the matter of price but rather competion in the development of manufacturing facilities to meet the requirements of war-time procurement. The depot itself expanded from a single building, of approximately 65,000 square feet, to several buildings containing nearly 300,000 square feet.The volume of deliveries into the depot reached huge proportions. All these conditions called for modifications of existing procedure in order that payments might be readily made, accounts settled promptly, and the supplies distributed with expedition.

In the process of development the finance department was divided into two sections, an accounts section, charged with the verification of accounts, and a disbursing section, charged with making all payments.9


Before an account can be paid from public funds two essentials are necessary: First, the exact quantity delivered; second, that the materials delivered conform to the contract requirements. It was the duty of the accounts section to assemble this information in regard to all supplies delivered, whether at the depot or forwarded on direct shipments from the manufacturer to distributing depots, camps, or ports of embarkation. 9

To this section came copies of all contracts and purchase orders placed by the purchasing department. In time of peace information that supplies had been delivered came to the finance section by notations made in the receiving office on the copies of contracts or purchase orders sent to that office for information and check against incoming supplies. In the reorganization of the depot following the declaration of war, the personnel in the receiving office were inexperienced and changed rapidly. The copies of contracts and purchase orders were required in the various sections or departments of the depot for various purposes. Difficulty was often experienced in locating the contract or purchase order when it was wanted to verify bills received. To overcome this difficulty a form of receiving report was devised and was filled out in the receiving office as the samples came in. It gave the name of the contractor, the articles and quantities delivered, the date of the receipt, and such other shipping data as might be considered essential. This report was made in triplicate, using different colored sheets for prompt and accurate distribution. One copy was retained in the receiving office, one copy accompanied samples


taken from the delivery, and the third copy went direct to the inspection department. After inspection the two copies were initialed by the chief of the inspection department and one copy was forwarded to the accounts section of the finance department. This report was used to verify the bills which had been received from the contractor. If delivery had been on purchase order, the bill and the receiving report, initialed by the inspector, were attached to the purchase order. The account was then ready for payment and these papers were referred to the disbursing section for the preparation of the voucher. In case of contract and deliveries at the depot, a notation was made on a blank sheet attached to the copy of the contract for that purchase, of the date of receipt, the quantity, and the date and fact of acceptance. The bills from the contractor were then verified with the receiving report. If they were found to agree, the account was ready for payment and the papers were forwarded to the disbursing section. For supplies which were not physically received at the depot but shipped direct from the manufacturer to other points, a different procedure was necessary. The manufacturer, when he had supplies ready for shipment, notified the depot of that fact. After inspection had been made through the inspection department, instructions were sent to the manufacturer indicating the quantity to be shipped and the destination. The instructions were accompanied by a Government bill of lading, one copy of which was required to be forwarded to the depot immediately after shipment. These bills of lading, the report of inspection, showing the quantity and the quality of the articles shipped, and the bills of the contractor, came to the accounts section where they were verified and appropriate notations made on the blank sheet attached to the contract for such purposes. The copy of the bill of lading and the inspection reports were accepted as satisfactory evidence of receipt of the articles enumerated therein and as justifying payment. When this information had been assembled in the accounts section, verified and found complete, the papers were referred to the disbursing section for payment.20


The disbursing section was custodian of all funds placed to the credit of the depot and the blank checks used in making disbursements. The disbursing officer was the accountable officer for these funds. All funds required for the payment of accounts at the depot were received on warrant from the Treasury Department. They were taken up and accounted for on an account current in conformity with the Treasury requirements. The monthly accounts current were forwarded to the Surgeon General’s Office accompanied by an abstract of disbursements and the original vouchers of all funds paid out during the month 20
In the routine operation of this section only verified accounts were handled. These accounts were received from the accounts section as already noted. Upon their receipt in the disbursing section vouchers were written and forwarded to the contractor for signature. When they were received back from the contractor checks were written, the proper notation was placed on the voucher, and the checks were mailed to the payee. It was the continuing effort of this


section to complete the payment for supplies at the earliest possible date after their delivery. After the depot was fully organized and the personnel in the various departments better trained, it was practicable to make disbursements within 10 days from date of the actual or constructive receipt of supplies. The prompt payments of accounts greatly facilitated the finances of the contractors and eased the money market in their locality. Prompt payments were of such an advantage to the contractors that many of them were willing to give a discount for payment within 10 days. These discounts varied from 1 to 5 per cent. The depot benefited by these prompt payments in the discount which it received. As much as $20,000 in a single month was saved in this manner from discounts alone.20

Payments to civilian employees at the depot were made by the disbursing section on pay rolls properly verified by the officials designated for that purpose. There was nothing peculiar or difficult in the payment of these pay rolls.20 It became necessary in 1918 to indicate on the payroll the proportion of the sums paid to each employee as increased compensation.


The requisition department was responsible for handling of all paper work pertaining to supplies. It was the largest of the departments. It acted upon requests for supplies from the following sources: 9 (1) Current requisitions from posts in the United States; (2) automatic requisitions for overseas use received from the War Department; (3) replacement requisitions for the various depots in the United States; (4)emergency requisitions from all sources, such as phone or telegraphic requisitions from posts or the War Department; (5) requisitions for overseas; (6) requisitions for supplies to be furnished to the Panama Canal.

Requisitions received in this department passed through t.he following sections: Editing section, billing section, service section, stock records section.


All requisitions received at the depot came to the requisition department from the central mail and file section after they had been stamped with the date of receipt. Here a serial number was given them and they were entered on the requisition register. Two forms of the register were kept; one arranged serially in order of receipt of the requisitions and the other alphabetically on cards, by organization and place of origin. The entries on the serial register were made in order of sequence of receipt of the requisition. The data entered on that register were the serial number, name of the organization, the place at which it was located, and the date of receipt of the requisition. This register was continued throughout the fiscal year. At the beginning of the new year a new series of numbers, beginning with 1, was used. The alphabetical register was kept on library cards of suitable size and ruling to contain the information required. The name of the organization and the station were entered at the top of the card. The other data entered on the card were the serial number of the requisition, its date, the date and place of approval, the date of receipt, and, when practicable, the dates of shipments of supplies requested therein.9

After the requisition had been numbered and recorded, it followed a procedure which, perhaps for the want of a better term, was called editing. In


handling the requisition the editor determined, from the quantity of any article appearing on the requisition, whether it could be supplied from stock or whether it would be necessary to ship it direct from the contractor. In determining this fact the balances on the stock record cards were consulted. The articles which could not be supplied from stock were then indicated on the requisition by an appropriate symbol. Opposite articles which could be supplied from stock were entered other symbols which indicated whether packing were necessary or whether the quantities required could be issued in original cases. After the requisition had been considered by the editor and the distribution of the articles indicated thereon, it was turned over to a typist. The articles were extracted from the requisition and arranged in separate lists in accordance with the symbol. These lists were subdivided in accordance with the classes of articles and the warehouses involved. A separate list of articles to be packed was prepared for each subpacking section, and for each commodity or warehouse of articles which could be supplied in original packages. The list of articles which could not be supplied from stock were passed through the production department for order and record, and thence to the service section for file. Of the list of articles to be shipped from stock a complete set was sent to the warehouse shipping section. The second set, attached to the requisition, went to the service file. The third set was distributed to the various packing sections and to the warehouse section which handled bulk shipments. As the articles enumerated on the list were assembled, the quantities actually issued were noted on the list, if they differed in any way from the quantities originally entered thereon. It was sometimes necessary, in order to avoid unnecessary packing, that a larger or slightly smaller quantity be issued than that entered on the list. The actual quantity issued being necessary for property accounting purposes, it was customary to note the changes on the slip because that slip ultimately reached the property accounts department. These lists accompanied the packages to the shipping section. When all the slips on any requisition had been received in the shipping section they were compared with the original set received from the editing section in order that the completeness of the shipment might be verified. After serving that purpose these lists were sent to the stock records section for notation on the stock cards. The quantities of bulk material actually shipped, as indicated by these slips, were deducted from the available stock balances, and the list, with notations to that effect, was passed on to the service section for check against the original requisition.9

After the requisition had been filled and the quantities shipped had been properly invoiced by the property accounts department, the original requisition was placed in the permanent requisition file. All correspondence thereafter relating to that particular requisition was filed with it. All material information concerning the requisition was obtainable from the requisition file.


The billing section was responsible for preparing invoices for the consignee. These invoicer were prepared from the requisition and its accompanying slips received from the service section. The data, with reference to each requisition, noted in this section, included shipping data. The shipping data were received


from the traffic section or one of its subbranches. The billing section maintained no permanent file. It held papers which were incomplete because of nonreceipt of goods, but as soon as they were completed, the papers were passed to their proper sections for file. A copy of each invoice went directly to the property accounts department.9


The chief duty of the service section was to see that service was rendered promptly, expeditiously, and efficiently. It had in its files all parts of the requisition which had not been completed. Its duty involved following up the requisition until it had been completed. It received reports from packing subsections, from the warehousing department, from the production department, and from the shipping department on all requisitions. If materials were not on hand it was the duty of the service section to report the matter promptly to the production department in order that additional supplies might be ordered in from contractors. It also maintained a check on the requisition department that requisitions were promptly edited and that there was no lag in the editing section.9


It is essential that a supply depot have at all times a complete and correct record of the quantities of every article actually on hand. The stock records section was organized to keep a daily record of the balances of all material physically present in the warehouses. In order to keep this record it was necessary that the receipt of all supplies delivered to the warehouses, and of all supplies emerging therefrom, be promptly recorded in suitable form for ready reference. Records in this section kept account only of bulk stock. Quantities issued, which involved less than an original package, did not appear on its record. This was obviated by recording the request for supplies needed by the various packing subsections for replenishment of bin stock. These requests were treated in all respects as requisitions and the quantities called for on them, in original package as necessary, were dropped from the stock records in this section the same as if they had been shipped to outside points.9

Information concerning supplies received was obtained from the copy of the receiving report or tally-in sheet initiated in the receiving section. These sheets, after they had received the approval of the officer in charge of the inspection department, passed through the stock records section for entry of the amount received, on their way to the finance department. The quantities on these sheets were promptly entered on the stock cards. As noted under the editing section, the quantities issued on requisitions were received in this section from the service section where they were entered on the stock cards and the balance obtained.9

This section maintained under each item a maximum and minimum of the quantity to be kept on hand. The maximum supply was determined by the experience of the depot in the matter of stock required for military use and for emergency purposes. Because of the limited warehouse capacity, the


maximum quantity of any article to be kept on hand was governed by the warehouse space available. This factor in turn was modified by the facility with which supplies could be received in the depot whenever the quantity became reduced. A sufficient stock of all articles to meet ordinary requirements was kept in the depot. Additional warehouse space could be obtained in New York City. The warehouse facilities of the depot could be expanded when necessary.9

The minimum stock was designated by the administration office and the quantity determined by the length of time required for replacement. It was usually a matter of judgment of the officers in charge. As occasion arose the minimum stock was increased or diminished in quantity. Whenever the stock balance reached the minimum figure on the ledger, a prompt report was made to the methods control section. Conference was then held with the production department and appropriate orders were issued for the replenishment of stock to the maximum figure. This information was furnished by memorandum to the service section, which followed up the instructions of the production department until the goods were delivered. If undue delay occurred the service section informed the methods control section and an investigation was at once made to determine the cause. Appropriate measures were immediately taken to remedy the difficulty.9


The Panama Canal section was one of the old sections in the depot and had been in existence for many years. It was responsible for procuring and delivering medical and hospital supplies for use of the Panama Canal government. Requisitions, in the customary form, were received from the authorities on the isthmus through the office in Washington. Under authority from the War Department the Panama Canal Commission was enabled to obtain supplies at cost from the Medical Department of the Army or to have them purchased by the depot, as required. The clerical work involved in the section with these supplies was more or less different from that of the Regular Army. It had been the custom for many years to assign this work to a separate section in the depot and to designate particular clerks to carry on the work. Requisitions and the purchase and delivery of supplies followed the same general procedure as those required by the Army. Disbursements and payments for these supplies, however, were made by a representative of the Panama Canal Commission stationed in New York City.9


The warehousing department had charge of the physical handling of supplies delivered for storage into any one of the warehouses. The material so delivered was either stored for the maintenance of the stock for general use, or for an adequate reserve supply. Of all the material in process of manufacture, shipment, or delivery, purchased by the New York depot, the stock stored in New York City formed a very small part. The bulk of the supplies was shipped direct from the factory to distributing depots, camps, or ports of embarkation.9


The warehousing department was responsible only for materials delivered to the warehouses. From that point its operations began. The duties included receiving the material, and the extensive clerical work incident thereto, and furnishing information to the various departments of the arrival of supplies. After they had been warehoused the materials were ready for shipment on approved requisitions. That, in turn, involved the function of packing and shipping. Shipments were made to the shipping department in cooperation with the various sections, such as the traffic department, set up to expedite the delivery of materials. In warehouses the materials were arranged according to a definite plan in order that technical supplies might be handled by special sections and that materials which moved rapidly would be so warehoused that they would be easily accessible for quick withdrawal. The main warehouse at Morton and Greenwich Streets was used for nearly all classes of supplies. The smaller shipments were prepared entirely within that building. It was necessary to effect a complete assembly of such shipments within one plant. The other warehouses were used for general storage, particularly of bulky and slow-moving stock, which it was necessary to have on hand for an emergency. The experience of several months and the requirement list from the War Department made it possible to determine the amount of stock to be kept on hand. It was soon found that certain materials should be handled on a maximum and minimum basis on the stock records. If this were done any average requirements could be met.9

The buildings were of most modern warehouse construction. In warehousing due consideration was given to floor loads, aisle space, height of stacks, location of materials for easy access to elevator service. Technical supplies pertaining to special departments were assigned their own warehouse floor space. Special floor space was assigned the general packing department where small requisitions of a general type were packed. The main assembly point for outgoing shipments was located on the first floor of the Morton Street warehouse. Here all of the materials for reshipments arrived boxed, weighed, and with shipping directions. From this point materials emerged completely marked and were delivered to the shipping agents.9


The receiving section was located on the landing floor of the several warehouses. The office of the clerical force of this section was near by. As materials were delivered to any of the warehouses they were carefully checked to determine whether the quantities received were those stated in the shipping invoice. Checkers were employed for this purpose who made out tally sheets containing all the data of the shipment. A shipping invoice was attached to the tally and both were turned into the receiving office. Two ledgers were kept in this section. One ledger contained the daily receiving sheets in ledger form and gave a history of the supplies which came in each day. The other ledger was arranged by names of contractors; each contractor was given a separate page on the ledger, that a quick check-up could be made of the total shipments received from each such contractor. In this ledger, entries similar


to those in the other ledger were made. In general the information on these ledgers was the date of receipt, the number of cases, a general description of the materials, and the name of the contractor. For the information of the stock department and the production department, a copy of the entries from the ledger was promptly transferred to the department involved. These reports were made immediately upon receipt of the supplies in order that all departments might be informed of the delivery as soon as practicable, and the goods made available for issue. Another copy of the receiving tally was forwarded to the inspection department where verification was made of the fact of inspection of the goods at the factory. If factory inspection had not been made, the inspection department immediately inspected the supplies so that they could be transferred to storage on the warehouse floors. By this means the authenticity of the shipment was verified and its compliance with contract specifications determined.9

The other department had almost an hourly balance on the stock. As soon as the stock department had received notice of the amount and character of the supplies delivered, entry was made on the stock and the information transmitted to the service department, where all unfilled requisitions were perused to determine whether the particular stock was needed to fill them.9


The warehousing section received the materials from the receiving section and designated particular floor spaces where they would be stored. All materials of like classes were stored together. At the end of each stack a warehouse card was attached which gave the balances of the materials on hand in the particular stack. The quantity of materials received was entered on the card as soon as the supplies had been placed in the stack. When supplies were removed from the stack for shipment, the quantity shipped was entered on the stack card and proper deduction made. The warehouse officer was able thereby to determine at any time the exact quantity of articles in a given stack.9

This section had charge also of the elevator service and of laborers for the physical handling of the supplies.


A general packing section was maintained for the packing of all sorts of loose shipments. It did not handle case goods. It carried a complete bin stock of supplies of the smaller articles, such as medicines and miscellaneous articles. Bin stock was obtained from the warehousing section by requisition slip whenever the quantity of any article became low or was exhausted. The packing section received requisitions from the requisition section after they had been fully edited. Loose supplies were packed as indicated. Besides the packing force, this section maintained a clerical force for the preparation of packers’ lists of material packed. These lists were made in quintuplicate on an Elliott-Fisher billing machine. The information given on the packer’s list was the point of delivery, station, list of articles, and number of the boxes. One copy of this sheet


was placed inside the package, another copy was pasted on the end of the box, where the contents could be easily read; the remaining copies of the packer’s list were sent to the shipping department. After the supplies had been packed they were marked with destination, weight, and cubic contents and forwarded to the shipping section. It then became the duty of that section to handle the packages.9

While the bulk of packing was done in the general packing section, other sections handled special articles. Dental equipment and supplies, surgical instruments, and X-ray apparatus and supplies each had their own technical sections, where the supplies were packed and otherwise prepared for shipment. 9


The shipping section was located on the first floor of the warehouse and was under the jurisdiction of a designated officer selected for his skill in preparing shipments. This section received all materials from the various packing sections, assembled them together, marked them for shipment, prepared the shipping invoices, and delivered the materials in accordance with orders from the requisition department. Copies of all completely edited requisitions were kept in this section and shipments were checked against them.

The shipping section had two subsections, one for domestic shipments and the other for overseas shipments. Both of the subsections functioned in a similar manner. The supplies for domestic shipments were segregated in a designated place on the warehouse floor, where they were easy of access for shipment either by transfer to cars on the sidetrack in front of the warehouse, or to trucks waiting for them. Overseas shipments were delivered by truck transportation to the docks, generally Pier 45, North River, under separate papers. The functions of the depot ceased as soon as the materials with their accompanying shipping papers had been delivered to the docks. Not all of the supplies shipped by the Medical Department overseas passed through this particular dock. Some of them were ordered to Hoboken, while others were ordered to Port Newark Terminal or elsewhere for loading on transports. The procedure of handling and in the preparation of the shipping papers was the same to whichever loading point the supplies were delivered. 9


The traffic section was a large organization and was located on the main floor of the principal warehouse. The organization began to function upon receipt of the complete requisition and its accompanying packer’s list. From the data received which gave the designation of the shipment, contents, weight, cubic space, etc., this section was enabled to forward the materials by the most convenient route. It took care of rail shipments, overseas shipments, express and truck orders. It arranged for all classes of transportation, the routing of shipments, a.nd traffic interchange. It handled also incoming shipments with their accompanying papers, accomplished the bills of lading, checked the contractor’s bills, and furnished to the finance department, properly audited and ready for vouchering. the data necessary for the payment of those bills.9



The warehousing department maintained a small property section to handle matters pertaining to the internal economy of the warehouse. This section concerned itself primarily with the relationship between the owners of the warehouses and the property contained therein. It was responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the building. It maintained separate records in which was kept an account of all materials purchased for use within the depot, including handling equipment and all other supplies used for purely depot purposes. These materials were received either from depot stock on requisitions or through purchase orders on outside sources. It had supervision of the internal economy of the depot and was responsible for economic management in issue of such supplies as stationery and the like.9


In conformity with the general policy of the Surgeon General to provide the depots with technical advisors, an officer of the dental corps was assigned to duty in the depot early in 1917. The purchasing of dental supplies was, during the early purchases, made by the purchasing department. During the winter of 1917-18, as the volume of purchases of dental supplies rapidly increased, the dental section of the purchasing department was detached from that department and became the dental department. This department had as its chief an officer of the Dental Corps of the Regular Army. At the height of its activity it had 4 enlisted personnel and 26 civilian employees. After it was fully organized the department became practically self-contained. It received its own requisitions, advertized for its own supplies, recommended awards, and edited the dental requisitions. It received all dental supplies, assembled portable dental outfits, and packed and issued all those articles listed on the dental supply table.21 For a more efficient and economical operation of the dental department, the front half of the fifth floor of the Morton Street building was set apart for its use. Here complete equipment was installed for packing supplies and assembly of units. Mortar steel bins and shelves were installed for loose articles. Ample packing tables were provided for all packing purposes. Bulky articles, when the space on the fifth floor became overcrowded, were placed in storage on the sixth floor; practically the entire sixth floor was devoted to this purpose. After August, 1918, the bulk storage of such large articles as dental chairs, dental cabinets, work benches, portable dental engines, and unit equipment boxes were stored in the Leroy Street building.21

The dental department was organized into four sections, requisition including auditing, purchasing, warehousing, and packing. The packing section included unit assembly. The requirements were received from the Surgeon General’s Office, either through direct instructions to purchase particular articles for unit assemblages, or by approved requisitions sent to the depot to be filled. At periodic intervals the purchasing section assembled these requirements, prepared circular advertisements representing totals of those require-


ments, and mailed the circulars to manufacturers of dental supplies. Bids as they were received were delivered to the dental department where they were safely kept until the date set for opening. They were then opened and abstracted and samples called for. The samples received were examined by the officer in charge of the department and, after mature consideration of all factors involved, awards were recommended. The recommendations were sent to the purchasing department, where contracts and purchase orders were written. A copy of these contracts and orders were sent to and filed in the purchasing section. 21

The receipt and inspection of supplies followed the procedure of all other supplies purchased by the depot. The supplies were delivered to the dental department where they were checked against the receiving slip and the contractor’s bill. If the quantities and quality were found to be correct the receiving slip and the contractor’s bill, approved by the dental officer in charge, were sent to the finance department for payment. The follow up of the contracts was handled by the production department of the depot.21

The warehousing section of the dental department received the supplies from the receiving department of the depot and distributed them in accordance with prescribed storage requirements. Small articles, as a rule, were placed on the shelves. The larger articles were placed in bulk storage as already indicated.2

The packing section was divided into two subsections. The one handled the assembly of unit equipment and the other the general packing of dental supplies to fill current requisitions. The prevailing depot practice, whereby one group of personnel selected the articles to fill the requisitions and another checked against the requisitions the articles thus selected, was observed in the dental department. After selection and checking they were packed either in the unit containers or otherwise prepared for shipment. 21

In the early period requisitions went to the editing section of the general requisition department. At a later period, after the dental department was fully organized, the requisition was sent direct from the mail and file section to the dental department. On many of the requisitions received the nomenclature of the articles desired was defective. This made the proper filling of the requisitions difficult. Not infrequently the wrong item would be specified. To overcome these defects and to make sure that the proper articles would be sent, an editing section was established for the correction of such requisitions.21 The editing section read the requisition carefully and changed the nomenclature to correspond with that of the standard supply table and made such other corrections as appeared necessary. If, as not infrequently happened, the requisition contained a few items other than dental supplies, those items were extracted and forwarded to the general requisition department of the depot.21

The articles to be assembled in the portable dental outfits and to be issued as base dental outfits were prescribed by the Surgeon General. Instructions from the Surgeon General usually directed the purchase or the issue of a definite number of portable outfits, base outfits, or base dental units. When the depot received these instructions they were translated into the quantities of the


individual articles composing the particular unit. Packing was effected in accordance with the supply table. Mimeograph lists of articles in each unit were prepared, and as articles were packed they were checked against these lists. The lists were then used for invoices and receipts.21


The X-ray department was established as a separate department during the summer of 1917, to handle all supplies and equipment immediately connected with X-ray apparatus. It remained an independent department in the depot, reporting directly to the officer in charge. Its independent set-up was occasioned largely by the manner of handling the development and standardization of X-ray machines and apparatus. All developmental work on X-ray machines and apparatus was directed by the X-ray section of the Surgeon General’s Office. The work observed was carried on by the plants of the respective manufactures and by the Army Medical School, Washington, D. C., and the Cornell Medical College, New York. When the United States entered the war neither X-ray machines, X-ray tables, nor other apparatus had been standardized. Each manufacturer had followed his own inclinations. In order to get adequate production and to provide equipment which could be operated by individuals irrespective of the particular apparatus with which they were familiar made necessary steps toward standardization. As a result the X-ray division of the Surgeon General’s Office conducted this standardization work and indicated to each manufacturer the quantity of the particular article he was expected to produce. This information came to the New York depot, where the actual contracts were prepared and furnished to the manufacturers.22

The X-ray department at the height of its activity had approximately 25 enlisted men who were trained X-ray technicians, a clerical force of approximately 12 civilian employees, and a force of approximately 10 laborers. The enlisted personnel were engaged particularly in the preparation and placing of orders and contracts and partly as technicians in assembling and packing of X-ray equipment.22

In the earlier purchases the supplies were intended for base hospitals being established at the various military cantonments, at general hospitals, and at base hospitals designated for the purpose. The major part of the bulky equipment for these hospitals was shipped direct from the manufacturers. Only the small articles, such as plates, films, photo-chemicals, and X-ray tubes, were handled directly through the depot. As hospitals began to be sent to the American Expeditionary Forces in France, complete X-ray outfits were assembled to accompany them. Some of these outfits were the standard base hospital outfit, others were special portable outfits designed for places where electric current was not available. The various component parts of these outfits were received at the depot, where they were inspected by the X-ray department and prepared for overseas shipment. Inspection of all bulky apparatus wa.s made at the plant of the manufacturers by technicians detailed for that purpose from the X-ray division of the Surgeon General’s Office. As X-ray apparatus was received at the depot it was again inspected to insure its completeness and working order.22



During the greater part of the calendar year 1917 the purchase, receipt, inspection, and issue of surgical instruments followed in a general way the peace-time procedure. Purchase was made by the purchasing department. The deliveries were made to the receiving department, where they were given a casual inspection and sent to the packing room. There a separate section was set apart for them, where they were assorted and prepared for shipment. The instruments were distributed on shelves without much consideration being given to the order of their arrangement. The bulk stock was kept in boxes in the hack part of the section. As the requisitions were edited in the requisition department separate extracts were made of the instruments contained therein. These extracts came to the instrument section where the instruments were selected, checked, and packed for shipment. The personnel assigned to this section in the beginning had very little if any training in handling instruments, but they were the best that the depot had been able, in the hurry of expansion, to procure. More or less confusion and inefficiency resulted from this arrangement and much time was lost from lack of system.23

The section was reorganized during the winter of 1917-18 and moved to the second floor to space assigned to it. Personnel trained in the manufacture and in the handling of instruments was obtained from various sources, principally through the draft agencies, and inducted into the service. A new system was installed for the handling of the work of the section. Shelving was put in and ample bin space provided. Each bin was marked with the name and number of the instrument it contained. These names and numbers were taken from the standard List of Staple Medical and Surgical Supplies, Part I, Surgical Instruments. The bins were arranged in groups according to the arrangement of the list of instruments as they appeared in the table of equipment of a 1,000-bed hospital for overseas service.a Commodious packing tables were placed at a convenient distance from the bins. The bins were filled from bulk stock by or under the supervision of trained personnel thoroughly familiar with the instruments, to insure that no mistakes would be made in filling them. As the bins were emptied in filling requisitions, arm informal requisition for stock would be made and the bins again filled. The quantities used in filling the bins would then be dropped from the stock record books.23

As the extracts from requisitions were received they were divided into groups according to the grouping of the bin stock and given to clerks to select the instruments and quantities called for. Each such clerk would select the instruments called for, wrap them, and label the package with its contents. Only one kind of instrument was placed in a package. These packages were then checked against the requisition slips by an experienced checker and transferred to the packer for packing. Unit equipment for the overseas base hospitals was assembled in the same manner. A particular group of instruments was assigned to each clerk to select. As fast as they were selected and wrapped the instruments were checked and packed. After the instruments had been
a See Chap. XXXIII.


properly arranged and the system understood by the employees, very little difficulty was experienced in filling requisitions rapidly and accurately.23

Inspection of the instruments received was under the inspection department, but the technically trained personnel on duty in the instrument department were utilized in these inspections. Their services were particularly in demand for the inspections of instruments received in cases. The points principally looked for were the finish of the instruments, the bite of forceps, the articulation of the complicated instruments, and the edge of the cutting instruments. If any instruments were found defective in these respects the case was rejected and returned to the manufacturer.23

As the demands for instruments increased during the summer of 1918, the trained personnel of the section were utilized in the purchase of instruments as well as in their distribution and inspection. After a time the section became entirely separate from other departments and assumed the dignity of a department. It had as its chief an officer of the Sanitary Corps who had extensive experience in the surgical instrument retail trade. There were attached to it two civilian experts in the manufacture of instruments, whose duty it was to supervise and instruct the converted industries, such as jewelers and toolmakers, in the details of the manufacture of surgical instruments and surgical needles.23


(1) Memorandum on purchase, storage, and distribution of medical supplies and equipment transmitted by the Surgeon General to the Medical Supply Depot, New York, First Indorsement, April 7, 1917. On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O.,  14101-17.
(2) Letter from the medical supply officer, New York, to the Surgeon General, April 29, 1918. Subject: Storage. On file, Finance and Supply 713-539 N.Y.D./629.
(3) Second Indorsement, from Director of Storage to the Surgeon General, May 3, 1918, relative to increased storage for Medical Supply Depot, New York. On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O.,  613-539 N. Y. D./629.
(4) Fifth Indorsement, Surgeon General, to the medical supply officer, New York, May 17, 1918, relative to handling medical supplies at New York, N. Y. On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O., 713-539 N.Y.D./629.
(5) Letter from medical supply officer, New York, to the Surgeon General, July 16, 1918. Subject: Supplemental storage warehouse. On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O., 713-539 N. Y. D./832.
(6) Approval of Assistant Secretary on First Indorsement, Director, Purchase, Storage and Traffic, to Director of Operations, July 31, 1918, recommending the lease of building southeast corner Greenwich and Leroy Streets, New York City. On file, Financeand Supply Division, S. G. O.,  713-539 N. Y. D./832.
(7) Abstract of voucher No. 169, accounts of Col. L. Brechemin, M. C., for December, 1915. On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O., Abstracts of disbursements.


(8) Manual for the Medical Department, U. S. Army, 1916, pars. 109, 113.
(9) Letter from Col. F. M. Hartsock, M. C., to Col. Edwin P. Wolfe, M. C., April 28, 1927, furnishing data on the history of the methods of the New York Depot during the war. On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O.,  713-539 N. Y./1236.
(10) Memorandum furnished Col. Edwin P. Wolfe, M. C., March 12, 1927, by H. C. Clancy, on duty in the Mail aiid Files Section, 1917-18. On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O., 713-539 N. Y./1249.
(11) Letters from Harry R. Balfe, 100 Hudson Street, New York, N. Y., formerly captain, Sanitary Corps, in charge of Purchasing Department, Medical Supply Depot, New York, 1917-18, to Col. Edwin P. Wolfe, M. C., June 7, 1926, June 11, 1926, and June 14, 1926, relative to organization and operation of that department during the war period. On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O., 713-539/1232.
(12) First Indorsement, from officer in charge, Medical Supply Depot, New York, to the Surgeon General, June 15, 1918, relative to numbering of contents and purchase orders. On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O.,  750-198 D. of P./87.
(13) Letter from officer in charge, Medical Supply Depot, New York, to the Surgeon General, July 30, 1917. Subject: Inspector for medical supply depot.  On file, Record Room, S. G. O., 181000 K (Old Files).
(14) Letter from Henry W. Haynes, M. D., formerly captain, Medical Reserve Corps, to Col. Edwin P. Wolfe, M. C., June 22, 1926, relative to organization, operation and function of inspection department, Medical Supply Depot, New York, while under his charge, 1917-18. On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O., 713-539 N. Y./1233.
(15) Letter from Frederick S. Deacon, formerly First Lieut., Sanitary Corps, 4511 Pine Street, Philadelphia, Pa., to Col. Edwin P. Wolfe, M. C., March 20, 1927, relative to his service in laboratory division, Medical Supply Depot, New York, 1917-18.On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O., 713-539 N. Y./1235.
(16) Letter from Capt. Daniel W. Fetterolf, M. C., Army Medical Center, Washington, D. C., to Col. Edwin P. Wolfe, M. C., March 25, 1927, relative to the organization and operation of the laboratory division, Medical Supply Depot, New York,1917-18.  On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O.,  713-539 N. Y./1239.
(17) List of assignments of inspectors, Appraisers Department, October 24, 1918, furnished by Inspector Henry F. Bush, U. S. Customs Service,  April 27, 1927. On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O.,  13-539 N. Y./1248.
(18) Letter from Inspector Henry F. Bush, U. S. Customs Service, Customs House, New York, to Col. Edwin P. Wolfe, M. C., April 27, 1927, relative to inspection of medical supplies. On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O.,  713-539 N. Y./1248.
(19) Data compiled from retained copies of accounts current, 1917-18. On file, medical section, New York General Intermediate Depot, Brooklyn, N. Y.
(20) Letter from Joseph Rubenstein, formerly sergeant, first class, Medical Department, 437 Bergenline Avenue, West New York, N. J., to Col. Edwin P. Wolfe, M. C., April 1, 1927, relative to development, organization and operation of the finance department, Medical Supply Depot,  New York, 1917-18. On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O., 713-539 N. Y./1246.


(21) Letters from H. L. Grenier, formerly sergeant, Medical Department, 84 Market Street, New York, N. Y., to Col. Edwin P. Wolfe, M. C., May 7 and 19, 1927, relative to organization and operation of dental department, Medical Supply Depot, New York, 1917-18. On file, Finance andSupply  Division, S. G. O.,  713-539 N. Y./1250.
(22) Letter from Howard W. Dunk, formerly sergeant, first class, Medical Department,  604 West One-hundred-twelfth Street, New York, to Col. Edwin P. Wolfe, M. C., May 7, 1927, relative to the X-ray department, New York Medical Supply Depot, 1917-18, while under his charge. On file, Finance and Supply Division, S. G. O., 715-539 N. Y./1243.
(23) Based on statements made by Capt. L. Wettenur, O. R. C., Brooklyn, N. Y., related August 2, 1927, to Col. Edwin P. Wolfe, M. C., relative to the organization and operation of the instrument department, Medical Supply Depot, New York, 1917-18.