October 10, 1861
Ruel Philbrook was a businessman in Camden who felt pressure. He wanted to meet the terms of agreements he made to supply tents to Maine regiments, and he did not want to pay for his workers to be idle.
He used letters and telegrams to communicate with Colonel E. K. Harding, Maine’s Assistant Quarter Master General, between September 9, 1861 and January 28, 1862, about supplying his company with "duck," the material to make tents.
"Duck" is a durable, closely woven, cotton fabric used to make tents and other items, such as certain clothing.
Philbrook informed Col. Harding that it requires 2,450 square yards of duck to make 22 company tents, 16 feet in diameter – a little more than 122 yards per tent.
In August, 1861, Nicholas Berry, also of Camden, offered to make company tents for the State for $32.50 per tent. Philbrook bid $26 for each company tent.
Harding awarded the work to Philbrook.
Maine’s regiments required a variety of tents, and needed them quickly in the fall of 1861. Philbrook supplied Harding with company tents, stove tents, police tents, kitchen tents, guard tents, field officers tents, and hospital tents.
He also furnished the tent pins, mallets and center poles.
Impatient to get the work done and fulfill his obligations, Philbrook expresses an urgent need for cloth.
He requests that the duck be sent, "tomorrow by Steamer without fail."
In an October 15, 1861 telegram to Harding, Philbrook complains that he was not getting the duck "half fast enough," further stating that he had a large crew waiting because the duck was not arriving in a timely manner.
He concludes by pleading "please hurry up those duck folks and give me the duck and I will give you the tents forthwith."
- Why would Harding remain in the middle of the "duck folks" and Philbrook?
- How would Harding have obtained information about proper design of various kinds of tents?
- What factors would be considered in designing tents?