Joseph Corson Read would later serve of a Chief Commissary of the entire Army of the Cumberland during the Atlanta Campaign.
Joseph Corson Read was one of the first wave of men to take up Abraham Lincoln's call for volunteers to put down the rebellion in April 1861. He was part of the Burnside expedition in early 1862 that took Roanoke Island and New Bern, NC, some of the first Union victories in the...
Joseph Corson Read was one of the first wave of men to take up Abraham Lincoln's call for volunteers to put down the rebellion in April 1861. He was part of the Burnside expedition in early 1862 that took Roanoke Island and New Bern, NC, some of the first Union victories in the war. Read's organizational talents brought him to the attention of General Reno, who named Read as his aide during the action at Roanoke. In March 1862 Reno asked him to become brigade commissary. Read accepted and embarked on his duties, and President Lincoln officially appointed him Commissary of Subsistence with the rank of captain on July 22 1862. In the Antietam campaign, General Reno was killed at the Battle of South Mountain, and his regiments fought at what became known to history as Burnside's Bridge at Antietam. They were also at Fredericksburg.
As 1864 dawned, Read became commissary in the Army of the Cumberland, which was part of the Department of the Mississippi. The Cumberland's commander was Gen. George Thomas, a Virginian who had stayed loyal and served the Union. The department commander was Gen. William T. Sherman. Thomas was impressed with Read, and on May 1, 1864, with the spring campaign against Atlanta imminent, Thomas named Read Chief Commissary of the Army of the Cumberland in the Field. This meant that Read would serve alongside Thomas in the field and had the responsibility to supply the entire army as it moved South. During the long and arduous Atlanta campaign he was the man on the ground, making the supply side work. Read developed a close relationship with Thomas, one with both personal and professional aspects.
In the Atlanta campaign, Sherman had three armies under his command, and they faced off against Confederate generals Joseph E. Johnston and John B. Hood in a series of battles in northern Georgia. Sherman was able to force the surrender of Atlanta in September 1864, boosting Northern morale.
Read finished the war the war as a colonel and in the exalted position of Chief Commissary of the Army of the Cumberland. At that time, the army, with its dependents, being fed and supplied by Read day by day, consisted of over 100,000 persons. That is the same as the present population of Fargo, the largest city in North Dakota. Read resigned from the army in 1866.
Document Signed, Washington, February 27, 1863, being Read's above-mentioned appointment as "Commissary of Subsistence of Volunteers, with the rank of Captain in the service of the United States, to rank as such from the 22nd day of July 1862."
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