United States--War Department



The United States Department of War (or War Department) was the office responsible for managing the United States Army during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Its origins date back to the creation of the Board of War and Ordnance in 1776 within the Continental Congress during the American Revolutionary War. The office was refined in 1777 as the Board of War, separating it from the Congress, and then formed into the Department of War by the Congress of the Confederation. Initially the office had oversight over all aspects of military defense and war. However, during George Washington’s administration, the United States Congress created the Navy Department to handle maritime affairs, leaving the War Department in charge of the country’s ground forces. The department was led by the Secretary of War, a member of the president’s cabinet. During the early decades of the nineteenth century, the department periodically expanded with the creation of sub-departments, later refined into bureaus, in response to international crises and increased military operations against Native Americans. This included the Bureau of Indian Affairs, created in 1824. Congress transferred that office to the new Department of the Interior in 1849.

During the American Civil War, the War Department took responsibility for the rapid growth and development of the Union army. Over the course of the war, department officials oversaw recruitment, training, supply, medical care, transportation, and pay for more than two million soldiers. During the latter half of the war, the War Department oversaw the administration of federal resources for freed slaves that sought refuge within Union lines with the creation of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands. Officials from that bureau continued to support and advocate for Black southerners, while other elements of the department managed the military governing of the former Confederate states, until the end of Reconstruction in 1877. (Wikipedia)

See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Department_of_War

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