The Montgomery Meigs Lesson

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What size clothes do you wear?

Before the American Civil War, you couldn’t have answered that question. That’s when Montgomery Meigs invented standardized clothing sizes. Thousands of recruits were measured and patterns were developed for combined waist, chest, and leg measurements.

Meigs was the Quartermaster General of the Union Army. His job was to make sure that clothes and food and ammunition and equipment were where they needed to be when they needed to be there.

Before the war, he supervised the construction of the Capitol Dome and the world’s longest masonry bridge. During the war, he made sure that everything ran on time. He did it with scrupulous honesty and accounting that balanced to the penny.

It was Meigs who calculated that an army of 100,000 needed 2500 wagons and 35,000 animals. That same army would consume 600 tons of supplies every day

The quartermasters are often the invisible heroes of a victorious army. The quartermaster is the staff realist. Every staff needs one. That’s the Montgomery Meigs Lesson: Every organization needs a stubborn realist. It’s even better if that person is also a knowledgeable and efficient administrator.

Who’s the Montgomery Meigs in your world? Who can you count on for hard-headed, informed advice about what’s possible? Who can you count on to do the hard work to help make sure your plans become reality?

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