The War of Logistics

Guiding Question:

What are military logistics and what role does the Quartermaster Corps play to facilitate, supply, and maintain an army on the move?


Using interactive technology from the American Battle Monuments Commission and primary and secondary source analysis, student groups will evaluate the challenges of supplying an army on the move including public perception, homefront operations, procurement, manufacturing and transportation. Each group will explore a unique angle to help the whole group understand the vast network of the Quartermaster and the complexity of integrating all of the elements into an effective supply system.


Historical Context

Supplying the military during World War II required Americans to increase production of war-related materials including food, clothing, fuel, and munitions and to drastically decrease personal consumption to support the expanding military needs. The Quartermaster Corps managed the massive network for procurement, testing, production, packaging, transportation and delivering necessary supplies.


At the conclusion of this lesson, students will be able to

  • Describe the role the U.S. Quartermaster Corps played in supplying an army on the move; and
  • Demonstrate demonstrate understanding of the importance of the Quartermaster Corps mission based on specific examples from the primary sources.

Standards Connections

Connections to Common Core

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.

Connections to C3 Framework

D2.His.14.9-12. Analyze multiple and complex causes and effects of events in the past.

D2.His.16.9-12. Integrate evidence from multiple relevant historical sources and interpretations into a reasoned argument about the past.


Lesson Preparation

  • Divide students into four groups of four to six students each. Larger classes can have more than one group for any of the four topics.
  • Print enough copies of the Logistics Group Packets so that each group has individual copies of one packet.
  • Print one copy of the Quartermaster Vocabulary List for each student.
  • Set up and test classroom technology.


Activity One: Warm-up Activity (15 minutes)

  • Seat students into assigned groups.
  • Explain to the students that they are going to be evaluating the logistics of a school day. For this exercise they will identify and discuss elements required for the school community to function. Ask students, What mode of transportation do you typically use to get to and from school? Poll the class.
  • Ask students, In your groups, decide what one supply is necessary for motorized vehicles to be able to transport students to school? Have one student in each group report back to the class. Most students will say gasoline. Other forms of energy may be listed; if not, mention electric cars. Write the answers on the board.
  • Ask the students, In your small groups take a few minutes to discuss the daily needs of people in our school community. Come up with a list of four other supplies (not services) that are absolutely necessary to the functioning of each school day.
  • Have student groups share their supply list. Write the supplies mentioned on the board and ask the other groups to raise their hand if they included the same item. Ask the next group to share a different supply item and repeat the process for all of the groups. Answers should include clothing, food, and school supplies.
  • Ask students to independently rank the categories from most to least important and briefly explain their answer.
  • Explain to the students that all of these items require logistics or planning by students, parents/guardians, staff, and administration. Have each student think of one item they personally used that day that falls under one of the identified categories.
    • Teacher Tip: Consider the example of buying an apple for lunch in the school cafeteria. Someone had to have it in the cafeteria at the right time, which means it had to be delivered to the school. If it was sliced, who sliced it and with what? Where did the slicer come from? Where was the apple purchased? Who purchased it? How did it get to the school? Who was involved in transportation? How was it harvested? How was it grown? What items were needed to grow the apple?
    • Inform the students that their next activity will be evaluating the needs and logistics of supplying an army on the move.

Activity Two: Military Logistics (45 minutes)

  • Pass out the Quartermaster Vocabulary List to students. Introduce the terms to the students and explain that the list can be used for reference during the lesson.
  • Project the World War II: A Visual History interactive timeline. Click “enter,” “1944,” and then “Northern France Campaign.” Read the summary and watch the 58 second video, which depicts an army on the move.
  • Distribute one Logistics Packet to each group of students (one group gets food, one ammunition, etc.). Explain that each group will analyze three sources and respond to a set of questions.
  • Give each group time to analyze their three sources before reporting back to the larger group. Circulate and provide support as needed.
  • Ask each group to provide a brief summary of the sources and explain the importance of their supply item for an army on the move.
  • Direct each group to complete the Group Activity Analysis in their packets.

Assessment Materials

Logistics Assessment (30 minutes)

  • Re-group students such that each new group contains at least one member from each original group (food, clothing, ammunition, and fuel).
  • Project the Logistics Assessment and review the instructions.
  • Allow the students time to discuss and gather evidence.
    • Teacher Tip: This assessment can be completed individually or in groups at teacher discretion.

Methods for Extension


  • Teachers can adapt the project by decreasing the number of sources assigned to fit individual learning accommodations.
  • Exit slips can be pre-printed and questions could be modified for individual needs.
  • Length of answers can be modified for individual students.