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The Commissariat was the department in the Army responsible for the procurement of supplies (food, clothing, etc.). This did not include weapons and ammunition, which were the responsibility of the Ordnance Department. Heading this department was the Commissariat General.

In the days of the EIC, it was part of the Town Major's List (Bengal & Bombay) and Effective Supernumeraries (Madras). Initially part of the Unattached List (B) in the Indian Army, it became the Commissariat and Transport Department in 1887.

Established 1 Feb 1810 in Bengal,[1] following the success of the Commissariat for the Bengal Army's 1810-1812 Mauritius Expedition - that coordinated the supply of all troops from the three Presidencies, and those from the Cape of Good Hope.

Title changes

  • 1887 Commissariat and Transport Department
  • 1901 Supply and Transport Corps
  • 1923 Indian Army Service Corps
  • 1935 Royal Indian Army Service Corps


In the early years the role comprised:

  • Supplying:

The victualing of troops (food and drink).
Animal feed for elephants, camels, bullocks and horses (cavalry and artillery horses).
Military stores, and timber for magazines and arsenals.
Wrought materials for gun carriages.
Infantry accoutrements.
Harness,and saddles.

  • Camp equipage:

Bedding and Quilts for barracks.
Diet, clothing and necessaries for European and General Hospitals.

  • Logistics:

Boats for transportation.
Hiring of camels and bullocks for transport(for grain and ordnance).
Carriers for the sick.
Supplying the islands.

Also see

Further reading

  • "The Mirzapore Distillery and the Company's Trade in Rum (1796-1808)" by Nikhil Sur, Calcutta Historical Journal, 4:1 (1979), 51-61. Publisher: University of Calcutta.

External links

Historical books online

A Few Brief Comments on Sir Charles Napier's Letter to Sir J. Hobhouse, "On the Baggage of the Indian Army"‬ by Lieut-Col W Burlton of the Bengal Cavalry, late Commissary-General of the Bengal Army 1849 Google Books
Sir Charles Napier's Indian Baggage Corps. Reply to Lieut.-Col. Burlton's attack [i.e. to his pamphlet entitled: “A few brief comments on Sir Charles Napier's Letter to Sir John Hobhouse” by Major Montagu McMurdo, late Head of the Quartet-Master General’s Department of Scinde 1850 Google Books
Animal Management (1933). HMSO. Pdf download, Digital Library of India.