Courtesy of the U.S. Army Quartermaster Museum:
Major General Harry L. Rogers
25th Quartermaster General
July 1918-August 1922
Harry Lovejoy Rogers was born in Washington, DC on January 29, 1867. He was educated at the academy his father had founded in Michigan. After graduation he remained with the school, filling various positions on its staff of officers, including that of Quartermaster. His military service prior to joining the Army in 1898 included ten years as a Major of the National Guard.
Rogers volunteered at the outbreak of the Spanish American War, Rogers volunteered and was appointed as a Major in the Pay Department on May 2, 1898. He served as chief paymaster in Puerto Rico during the war. Following an extended leave of absence after the war, Rogers was ordered to Chicago as assistant to the chief paymaster of the Department of the Lakes on October
22, 1902. He was transferred to the Department of the Dakota as chief paymaster on February 10, 1904. After approximately two years he was sent to Washington, DC, as post paymaster and assistant to the Paymaster General of the Army.
He served as the chief paymaster of the Philippine Division and next was assigned to the Eastern Division as chief paymaster with headquarters at New York City. He was commissioned a deputy paymaster general with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel on April 15, 1907, and two years later became an assistant paymaster general with the rank of Colonel. By the spring of 1912 his record
caught President Taft's attention and was appointed as paymaster general of the Army.
When the Pay Department was merged with the Quartermaster and Subsistence Departments to form the Quartermaster Corps in August of 1912, Rogers was assigned as Chief of the Finance Division, Office of the Quartermaster General. This position he occupied for a little more than two years during which time he systematized and modernized many methods of handling accounts and appropriations.
From March to October 1915, Rogers was detailed to duty with the Second Division as Division Quartermaster at Texas City. He handled supply activities during maneuvers so efficiently that he was commended by the commanding general of the Division. The Texas City hurricane in August provided him with still another opportunity for demonstrating his efficiency in handling supply. When the Second Division was broken up, Rogers was ordered to the Southern Department, in October 1915, as Department Quartermaster.
Rogers handled his burdensome duties with skill. He was confronted with the necessity of sheltering, equipping, and supplying an Army of about 150,000 men, including over 100,000 National Guardsmen mobilized on the border with Mexico. In effect he was the Quartermaster General of a large army during General Pershing's campaign against Francisco Villa, the Punitive Expedition. This was the first time that the Army used motor transportation on a large scale. Rogers purchased trucks and had them shipped by fast express trains, along with personnel to operate them, to Columbus, New Mexico.
Rogers served in the Southern Department until June 1917, when at the request of General Pershing he was sent oversees, assigned as Chief Quartermaster of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF). He was entrusted with the task of supplying the entire U.S. Army in France during World War I. Among the innovations introduced by Rogers were field bakeries that assured the soldier a constant supply of bread; the establishment of a system of storage and distribution of gasoline, the organization of the Motor Transport Service, of the Graves Registration Service, establishment of a laundry and disinfecting system and a salvage service.
General Pershing thought that no Army had ever been better cared for. He wrote the Secretary of War that: “The Quartermaster Corps has had a difficult and varied task, but it has more than met all demands that have been made upon it.” In recognition of his services, Rogers was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal on January 17, 1919, and also received decorations from the French, British, Polish, and Italian governments. Rogers was promoted to Brigadier General on August 5, 1917, and early in the following year was given the same rank in the Regular Army.
General Rogers was appointed as Quartermaster General with the rank of Major General on July 22, 1918. The pressure of duties kept General Rogers in France until February 1919, and he assumed the duties of Quartermaster General on February 13, 1919.
Upon his return to the states, General Rogers found the Quartermaster Corps split into various functions known as the Transportation Service, the Construction Division, the Motor Transport Service, and the Purchase and Storage Division, all operating independently under War Department direction. General Rogers believed this to be an enormous and unnecessary expense and overhead. He immediately tried to get these activities returned to Quartermaster Corps control. During hearings on Army reorganization before the House Committee on Military Affairs in the fall of 1919 he argued vigorously against perpetuating these separate organizations.
When the reorganization of the Army was enacted into law under the National Defense Act of 1920, Congress provided for a Quartermaster Corps to which the functions of transportation and construction were returned, but the Finance Department remained a separate branch of the War Department. The Quartermaster Corps was charged with the purchase and procurement of all supplies of standard manufacture, and of all supplies common to two or more branches, and with their storage and issue. The Quartermaster Corps was to be composed of permanently commissioned officers who were to be specialists instead of men detailed from other branches of the service.
The manner in which General Rogers handled postwar demobilization problems and the record of economy he achieved ably demonstrated the arguments he had made and the efficiency of the reconstituted Quartermaster Corps.
On August 2, 1922, General Rogers requested retirement, having been found physically incapacitated by a medical examination board. He retired with the rank of Major General on August 27, 1922, after a little more than 26 years active service in the Army. The few remaining years of his life after retirement were complicated by illness. On December 12, 1925, General Rogers died of a heart attack at Philadelphia. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
ROGERS, HARRY L
MAJ GEN RETD USA
- VETERAN SERVICE DATES: Unknown
- DATE OF DEATH: 12/12/1925
- DATE OF INTERMENT: Unknown
- BURIED AT: SECTION S SITE 2140
- ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard