ARTIFICERS. Artificers provided important logistical support for the field armies. There were two principal types of these soldier-craftsmen. Artillery artificers performed many of the functions of a modern ordnance department. These skilled artillery technicians and laborers operated military depots and even accompanied troops in the field, performing vital services as gunsmiths, wheelwrights, and blacksmiths, among other crafts. Quartermaster artificers constructed fortifications and barracks when the army was stationary, and worked as wagonmasters and bateauxmen to make it mobile. Companies were scattered among the field armies and in depots across the states.
Separate companies and smaller detachments of artificers existed from the earliest days of the Revolution. No entire regiment ever took the field, although several schemes were put in place to organize the companies into regiments for administrative purposes. On 16 January 1777, Washington ordered Colonel Benjamin Flower to raise an artillery shop company (at York, Pennsylvania), a field support company, several depot companies, and a laboratory company to manufacture ammunition. The companies raised later that year by Colonel Jeduthan Baldwin were quartermaster artificers, eleven companies of which (mostly from Connecticut) were in service by 1779. Plans to "regiment" these units were never carried out, and an effort to form a regiment of both artillery and quartermaster artificers in 1781 also failed.
Berg, Fred Anderson. Encyclopedia of Continental Army Units: Battalions, Regiment, and Independent Corps. Harrisburg, Penn.: Stackpole Books, 1972.
Wright, Robert K., Jr. The Continental Army. Army Lineage Series. Washington, D.C.: United States Army Center of Military History, 1983.
revised by Harold E. Selesky