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First Name: James

Last Name: Aleshire

Birthplace: Gallipolis, OH, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Buchanan

Date of Birth: 31 October 1856

Date of Death: 01 June 1925

Rank: Major General

Years Served:
James Buchanan Aleshire

Graduate, U.S. Military Academy, Class of 1880

•  Spanish-American War (1898)
•  Boxer Rebellion (1899 - 1901)


James Buchanan Aleshire
Major General, U.S. Army

James Buchanan Aleshire was born on 31 October 1856 at Gallipolis, OH. He was appointed a cadet at the U. S. Military Academy in the summer of 1876. Upon graduation he was assigned as a Second Lieutenant to the First Cavalry, joining it at Fort Bidwell, CA.

Aleshire served at frontier posts in California, Arizona, Wyoming, Montana, Kansas and Washington.  In addition to the usual troop duties, he filled various staff positions at these posts, such as Acting Assistant Quartermaster, Assistant Commissary of Subsistence, and Post Adjutant. He was promoted to First Lieutenant on 20 September 1890.

He applied for transfer to the Quartermaster's Department in the spring of 1894 and was appointed an Assistant Quartermaster with the rank of Captain on 25 April 1895. His Cavalry service had given him much experience in handling horses and in dealing with supply problems. Captain Aleshire was assigned as a horse buyer at the General Depot in St. Louis. About a year later he was transferred to the Chicago Depot, where he continued to purchase and inspect horses for Cavalry and Artillery use. Sympathetic with the needs of the mounted services, he was later responsible as Quartermaster General for the establishment the Remount Service, which inaugurated a new system of purchase and supply through a number of Remount Districts and Depots.

At the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Aleshire was commissioned a Quartermaster with the rank of Major in the Volunteers on 12 May 1898. In the fall of that year he was relieved from duties at Chicago and directed to proceed to Lexington, KY, where he was assigned to duty as Acting Chief Quartermaster of the First Army Corps. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel of Volunteers on 26 November 1898. During the summer of the following year he was again on temporary duty at Chicago, then assigned to construction activities as Chief Quartermaster at Matanzas, Cuba. On 23 November 1899 he became Chief Quartermaster at Santiago, Cuba.

When the Boxer Rebellion broke out in China in May 1900, Colonel Humphrey, who had been assigned Chief Quartermaster of the U. S. Relief Expedition, requested Aleshire's services. He arrived at Tientsin on 12 October and was assigned as Depot Quartermaster. Once the trouble in China was over, he was sent to Manila, Philippines, and placed in charge of organizing the Army Transport Service. In the meantime, he had been promoted to Major in the Regular Army. By March 1903 he was designated Depot Quartermaster at Manila.

For five years, Aleshire had been on continuous, arduous foreign service. General Humphrey, soon after becoming Quartermaster General, recommended that he be relieved from duty in the Philippines and assigned to the Quartermaster General's office in Washington.

Secretary of War Taft appointed Aleshire as the Army's 23rd Quartermaster General on 1 July 1907. During the nine years of Aleshire's administration, many changes in methods and organization were introduced. One of his first accomplishments was to institute a system to decentralize the procurement of supplies in place of the centralized control of supply that had developed in the Department during the years of peace following the Civil War.

This system was based on an analysis of the Appropriation Act and the budgeting of funds. One of the important and far-reaching innovations introduced by Aleshire was to itemize his estimates by appropriation to enable him to explain to the Appropriation Committee of Congress just what was wanted, and why. This practice of itemizing estimates is followed in the preparation of budgets today, but Aleshire was the first Bureau Chief of the War Department to do it.

Aleshire's first four-year term expired 30 June 1911 and he was reappointed Quartermaster General for another four years. The major issue under consideration at that time was the creation of a new supply corps by consolidating the Quartermaster and the Subsistence and Pay Departments. General Aleshire took an active part in the discussions and hearings that paved the way for the eventual passage of the law establishing the Quartermaster Corps on 24 August 1912. General Henry G. Sharpe, then Commissary General of Subsistence, had pioneered in the efforts to promote consolidation, and as it became apparent in the summer of 1912 that passage of such legislation was assured, it also became clear that either Aleshire or Sharpe would be appointed to head the new corps.

Aleshire had an excellent record as Quartermaster General and although Sharpe had the advantage of two years, President Taft nominated Aleshire as the first Chief of the newly-created Quartermaster Corps, with the rank of Major General to date from 24 August 1912, for a period of four years.

In consolidating the departments, Aleshire followed the same policy instituted earlier of decentralizing authority to officers in the field. The office itself was organized into five divisions with Major General Aleshire directly supervising the Administrative Division, which included Personnel; Sharpe taking charge of Supply; and former Paymaster Smith heading the Accounting Division. Transportation and Construction were each set up as Divisions, headed by officers with the rank of Colonel.

The work was difficult and affected Aleshire's health; he fell seriously ill in February 1916. Aleshire was again appointed Quartermaster General for a four-year term beginning 24 August 1916. However, medical examiners were convinced that his health would rapidly grow worse if he reassumed the laborious duties of his office. Aleshire was disappointed but accepted their decision and retired from the Army on 12 September 1916.

Six months later, he recovered and offered his services in any capacity to the Government. He was appointed to the Council of National Defense, and on 6 June 1917, he was officially recalled to active service to assume the chairmanship of the Priority Committee of that Council serving until 12 July 1918.

In Retirement

Aleshire retired to the home he established at Sheridan, WY, near the scenes of his military service in the Cavalry on the plains he loved so well.


He married Harriet A. Dana (1862-1939) on 3 November 1886. Their son, Joseph Page Aleshire, born on 6 December 1887, retired as a Colonel of U.S. Army Cavalry.

Death and Burial

Major General James Buchanan Aleshire died on 1 June 1925, at the age of 68. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.

His wife, Harriet, died on 12 July 1939, and his son, Joseph, died on 25 January 1951; both are buried with him.

Honoree ID: 2051   Created by: MHOH




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