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Great Fires: 1906 Great Earthquake & Fire

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Appendix A.
Earthquake in California, April 18, 1906
Special Report of Maj. Gen. Adolphus W. Greely, U. S. A., Commanding the Pacific Division

Answer. Donated. The cases were marked, "General Funston, for San Francisco relief," "San Francisco sufferers;" a lot of liquor was marked that way—nothing else on cases at all; and "Red Cross, Doctor Devine:" four or five marks. I helped to pack part of the goods that went in that shipment. Later on in the day. I should judge between 3 and 4 o'clock, the wagons were again sent to the Moulder School, in charge of Lieutenant Powell. Next day I heard him state he had, after a great deal of trouble, succeeded in delivering the goods.
Question. Where?
Answer. My impression was, to the Moulder School, but I can not state positively. There was another shipment delivered to Goldberg, Bowen & Co., for which we hold Goldberg, Bowen & Co.'s receipts. The inventory of these goods was made by a clerk of Goldberg & Bowen's and two clerks of this depot. The goods were loaded here on army wagons and accompanied by Goldberg & Bowen's men and a guard when they left the depot. My understanding was they were to go to Oakland, but their disposition was in the hands of Goldberg, Bowen & Co.'s representatives. There was a third shipment of liquor toward the last of June consisting of some case goods, not barrels, which left here in two or three wagons. I don't think it was over three. I understood they were to go to the Moulder School. They also left in charge of the wagon master and sentries on the wagon. The drugs that we sent out in the latter part of June—well, after the middle of June—were all delivered to the Central Emergency Hospital, and I personally seen them in the hospital. They might be away from there now, but they were there during different visits that I paid to the hospital.
Question. Have you any record of the sentry who accompanied the wagons?
Answer. I don't know anything about that.
Question. Do you know his name?
Answer. No, sir. It was customary to send down to the guard that was stationed below here and ask for a sentry, and there was sometimes two or three.
Question. Of what organization was this guard?
Answer. I could not tell you. The case goods I could identify. I know the brands on them. As to the maltine, we had nearly a carload of it. That was part of the shipment refused down there. All of it went out that day. There was also lots of creoline for relief. Creoline is a disinfectant. We emptied two tents that date right out here.
Question. Is there any liquor stored here now?
Answer. Yes; there is—regular supplies.
Question. No; but I mean that which came as relief?
Answer. No; there is no relief stores. The relief whisky was all delivered. We might have a few cases of relief whisky here that were to take the place of regular army whisky issued for relief purposes and replaced with this whisky.
Question. You don't know how much?
Answer. No.
Question. Are there any records here at present showing the liquors received by the medical supply depot?
Answer. I will ask Mr. Sternberg. No; the books are not here. They were taken with the other papers East. The record was kept in those books of everything received. For the most part, we don't know where it came from. It was simply marked "Quartermaster's dock." We had no way of telling who sent the goods in.
Question. Is there any other information you can give me on the receipt and transportation of liquors by and from the medical supply depot? Answer. No; I believe not.

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Tacoma, Wash., July 26, 1906. (Received 27th.)
Military Secretary, Presidio, San Francisco, Cal.:

Advise Wisser that I desire investigations looking to accuracy statements in The Call alleging distribution liquor through volunteer nurses from Presidio, presumably General Hospital. While having confidence that such statements are unfounded, yet consider it advisable in present condition public press to investigate anything they charge. Suggest as first step that Wisser interview Call reporter and ascertain his source of information. If such seems unreliable drop matter, but otherwise follow it up. Address Vancouver Barracks till Saturday noon.

8.28 a. m.


Market and Third Streets, San Francisco, July 28, 1906. Lieut. Col. JOHN P. WISSER,
Headquarters Pacific Division, U. S. A., City.

DEAR SIR: The only possible information our reporter could give you, concerning the alleged distribution of liquor through the volunteer nurses at the Presidio, would be what was published in this paper in that regard, plus the names of the persons from whom he obtained the facts upon which the article was based. It is the rule of The Call not to make public the sources of its information, and on this account I can see no good to be gained from sending a reporter to you as is requested in your letter of July 27.

Yours, very truly,
Managing Editor.


Headquarters Pacific Division, San Francisco, July 28, 1906.
Washington, D. C.:

Reference to papers of Lieutenant-Colonel Brechemin pertaining to relief work, owing to alleged loss of quantities of liquor, desired information from Colonel Brechemin as to time, from whom, and quantities of liquor received, and to whom, quantities, time, and receipts for liquors transferred from medical supply depot.

In absence Division Commander.

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Washington, D. C., July 27, 1906. (Received 28th.)
San Francisco, Cal.:

Reference your telegram 21st instant, Surgeon-General reports not practicable to return to San Francisco all records pertaining to relief work, as more important papers are being used to ascertain value of medical property furnished for relief work and to settle money and property accounts of Lieutenant-Colonel Brechemin. If you state specifically what information is needed, effort will be made to furnish it from records in Surgeon-General's Office.

By order Acting Secretary of War:
Military Secretary.
8.06 a. m.


San Francisco, Cal., July 23, 1906.
Pacific Division.

SIR: I have the honor to request that Lieut. Col. Louis Brechemin, Medical Department, deputy surgeon-general, now in charge of medical supply depot, New York City, be directed to furnish me with a report of all liquors which were received at and transferred from the medical supply depot, San Francisco, Cal., to all points in the city of San Francisco during the time, since the earthquake and fire, that he had charge of said depot, inclosing to him, for his information, a copy of the letter, dated headquarters Pacific Division, July 21, 1906, directing me to examine into the subject.

Very respectfully,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Artillery Corps,
Acting Inspector-General.


NEW YORK, July 31, 1906—2 p. m.
Lieut. Col. JOHN P. WISSER,
Presidio, San Francisco, Cal.:

Referring to article in Chronicle of July 24, page 12, I hold receipt from Dr. C. T. Millar, dated June 2, for eight wagonloads of miscellaneous drugs and articles—191 packages. This shipment was

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made by Sternberg, and did not contain any liquor. The first shipment of whisky was made June 23. The receipts for 78 cases are signed by Edward, receiving clerk. Later 40 barrels were receipted for by Post Com. Sergt. John Glenn. All these shipments were made under my personal supervision, and two sentries accompanied each train.

Supply Officer.

Reports of Maj. Carroll A. Devol, Quartermaster, U. S. A.

Presidio of San Francisco, Cal., May 16, 1906.

SIR: In compliance with your instructions of the 15th instant, to render report of the operations of the Quartermaster's Department under my direction since the 18th of April, 1906, I have the honor to submit the following:

At 5.14 on the morning of April 18 the conditions in the city of San Francisco were changed from that of normal supply and demand created under a system, the result of gradual evolution and business experience of many years, to that of chaos. The entire population of San Francisco was returned to primitive conditions in regard to all the necessities of life. All depot warehouses and offices in the city of San Francisco had been destroyed by fire by noon of the 18th, consuming a stock of clothing, equipage, and quartermaster supplies amounting approximately to $2,200,000. The four warehouses at the Presidio, containing what was known as the surplus or dead stock of the depot, were uninjured by the earthquake, and on the morning of the 19th I moved my office force to these warehouses, establishing an office in warehouse No. 2.

The first available means of assistance from supplies in the depot on April 18 being that of shelter, an immediate distribution of the 3,000 tents in stock was instituted. Conferring with Col. Charles Morris, in command at the Presidio, he stated to start a camp wherever space was available, suggesting the vacant ground between the General Hospital and the Model Camp. The issue from the four warehouses at the Presidio was continued during the first five days after the earthquake, an effort being made to relieve immediate distress and provide for the many people whom it was found were homeless and shelterless. When the severe rain set in, ending with the torrent of April 23, ponchos and shelter tents were issued in large quantities, thousands of people standing drenched to the skin and without any protection from the storm. It is believed that this issue relieved much distress, and it is hoped saved some lives. Ponchos were also used by the refugees to keep them at night from lying on the wet ground.

There being in stock 84,002 pairs shoes, russet, returned from the Philippines to be sold, owing to the pattern being obsolete, 40,173 pairs of these shoes were issued to various relief stations for the purpose

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of distribution among the needy. These shoes were charged against the appropriation, by direction of the Quartermaster-General, at the reduced price of $1.35 per pair.

Advices having been received that a large quantity of relief stores were en route from all parts of the East, various Government depots and other sources, consigned to me, arrangements were at once instituted to properly care for and distribute these supplies on arrival, as it was realized that an immense state of congestion would ensue unless delivery was promptly taken and systematically carried out. As the great bulk of these supplies was to arrive over the Southern Pacific road I decided, in a conference with Mr. Calvin, general manager of the Southern Pacific Railroad, to institute three avenues of supply for the city of San Francisco—the Presidio dock, Folsom street dock, and Fourth and Townsend streets—where cars were delivered. This plan was thoroughly gone over, outlined, and never changed, and it is thought the results have proved its wisdom. Santa Fe deliveries were afterwards taken from their freight yards at Spear and Harrison streets on this side or delivered by float at Folsom street dock.

Capt. Jesse M. Baker, quartermaster, U. S. A., with my chief transportation clerk, Mr. W. H. Ruddell, was placed on duty at Oakland pier, in touch with the general officers of the Southern Pacific Company, and where he could keep in absolute touch with all incoming freight. A dispatch boat, the Lieut. Geo. W. Harris, was turned over to me by the chief quartermaster, and placed on the run between the Presidio dock and Oakland pier, making two trips daily, Captain Baker sending me full reports twice a day of the freight situation, supplementing the information by wire as far as the facilities would permit. I was enabled to advise him daily as to the needs of the various distributing points, and keep the supply properly distributed.

Capt. James A. Hutton, 27th Infantry, was afterwards placed on similar duty at Point Richmond, in connection with the Santa Fe, the work, however, there, owing to the small amount of business, being much less than at Oakland pier.

Lieut. L. D. Cabell, 14th U. S. Infantry, was placed in charge of Folsom street dock, and with the consent of the State board of harbor commissioners, Piers 8 and 10, lying next to Folsom street dock, were taken over by the Government—Pier 8 for tentage, Pier 10 for forage, and Pier 12, or Folsom street, for food supplies. These docks are still retained by the Government, but it is hoped that Piers 8 and 10 may be reverted to the harbor commissioners in a few days, in order that business may be resumed on them as under normal conditions.
Capt. G. H. Shields, jr., 3d U. S. Infantry, was placed in charge of the Fourth and Townsend street yards, with Lieut. H. F. Wilson, Philippine Island Scouts, as his assistant. He took charge of all freight arriving at this depot, keeping me constantly advised by wire.
Lieut. Thomas E. Selfridge, 24th Field Battery, was placed in charge of the Presidio dock, the facilities of which were sadly inadequate to the amount of work demanded of it. Enormous amounts of freight went over this little dock, requiring work far into the night, and sometimes all night, to keep the freight in motion, the dock space

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being so limited that it became immediately congested if delivery was not taken from the dock as fast as consignments reached it.

The business of conducting issues from the four warehouses at the Presidio had grown to enormous proportions in a few days. Capt. John J. Boniface, regimental quartermaster, 2d U. S. Cavalry, was detailed to take charge of these issues, with Lieut. George W. Winterburn, 9th U. S. Cavalry, as his assistant.

The matter of disbursements also requiring immediate attention, Capt. Wendell L. Simpson, being a bonded officer, and entirely familiar with quartermaster accounts, was by me placed on duty as disbursing officer for the depot, the duties in connection with which requiring his constant attention.

In the earlier days of distribution the crying need of the hour required delivery from car to boat, boat to dock, dock to wagon, and from wagon to hands of the people, time not permitting proper segregation of the component parts of the ration, or separation properly of the various donated relief supplies of clothing.

As soon as time permitted three commissary depots were established, No. 1 at the gun sheds, Presidio; No. 2 at Spear and Harrison streets warehouse (then under rental to the Quartermaster's Department), and No. 3 at the Moulder School, Page and Gough streets. These were taken over by Maj. C. R. Krauthoff, depot commissary, and, working in conjunction with him, as soon as established, I transferred all food supplies to these three depots, where they were properly separated and issues made, all issues from docks and railroad yards then being discontinued.

On April 23, 1906, Capt. G. A. Nugent, quartermaster, Presidio of San Francisco, was directed to report to me as my assistant in connection with the establishment of a depot corral, as part of the transportation being under my direction and part under his it was deemed best on the lines of general administration to consolidate. The corral was parked on the plain just east of the Presidio warehouse. Under the direction of Captain Nugent, with Lieut. A. McIntyre as his assistant, the transportation from this corral was as follows:


Maximum during greatest emergency. 

At present date. 

Trucks (hired):









Wagons (hired):



2-line (heavy)



2-line (light)






Buggies (hired), 1-horse



Extra horses (hired Wagons, drivers, and harness furnished by the Government for extra horses, all made up into 2-line teams.



Teams (Government):









2-line (Dougherty)


Total teams:









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Later it became apparent that necessity demanded another corral at Folsom street to take deliveries from that point, Fourth and Townsend streets, and Spear and Harrison streets. This corral was established on a vacant lot, rented for this purpose at $450 per month from May 1, and the number of teams used being as follows:


Maximum during greatest emergency. 

At present date. 

Trucks (hired):









Wagons (hired):



2-line (heavy)



2-line (light)






Wagons (Government), 2-line (escort)



Buggy and horse (hired)



Saddle horse (hired)



Total teams:









In connection with the matter of hired drayage, I would state that the city drayage contractor, Mr. William R. Morton, had been burned out, and as his contract was by the pound, and no means of weighing existed, it was deemed best to suspend his contract for the time being, and employ his teams on the same basis as all others, at the union rate. Under the direction of the division commander schedule was arranged for such work, and is as below:


Per day. 

Four-horse truck


Two-horse truck


Two-horse wagon (heavy)


Two-horse wagon (light)


One-horse wagon


Extra horses


The above is the union scale or rate in San Francisco under ordinary conditions. Twenty per cent was deducted from this schedule when teams and drivers were cared for and subsisted by the Government.

Transportation in the earlier periods from depots to all outlying distributing stations was made up of voluntary teams and hired teams under an organization controlled by the finance committee. I was directed by the division commander, in compliance with a request from the finance committee, to take over the matter of this transportation, bringing all the transportation for relief purposes in the city of San Francisco under my direction. To accomplish this I detailed Capt. Peter Murray, 18th U. S. Infantry, giving him Mr. W. W. Witt, wagon master, as his assistant, to take charge of all transportation from the various depots to outlying stations. He established an office in the Hamilton School on May 2. Prior to this there was engaged in city transportation 557 teams. By the morning of May 4, Captain Murray, by constant and systematic attention to his work, had the number of teams engaged in this work reduced to

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109, hired at a cost of $918 per day, union rates. Thirty Government teams were engaged also in the work, these not being charged against the relief appropriation. Report for this day shows 68 teams hired, engaged in city transportation, at a daily cost of $552, and 15 Government teams, not charged against appropriation. Captain Murray was given an automobile and visited all outlying distributing stations twice daily, keeping in constant touch with the situation and being able to offer adequate information as to the general progress of transportation matters in the city. It is believed his services in this connection were the means of saving many thousands of dollars in the transportation account.

As the distribution of food supplies within the city of San Francisco had been taken over by the Commissary Department of the Army similarly in regard to clothing, after consultation with Dr. E. T. Devine, special representative of the Red Cross Society, and Mr. Allen Pollok, chairman supervising committee, it was decided to establish at once a clothing supply depot for the issue of all donated clothing. An application to the city Board of Education, which fortunately was found in session, met with prompt response, and they offered any available schoolhouse in the city for this purpose. Several schoolhouses were visited by Doctor Devine, Mr. Pollok, and myself, and the Crocker School, 1111 Page street, being new and having the best facilities, was at once selected. The scheme of adopting this method was decided upon Wednesday, May 2; on Thursday afternoon the building was selected; on Friday morning, by direction of the division commander, Capt. John J. Bradley, 14th U. S. Infantry, was ordered to report to me and was placed in charge of this school. By Saturday afternoon a large amount of the stock was in the building and this distribution of clothing depot in operation. Later it became apparent that a distinct line should be drawn between new clothing of good character and suitable for any issue and the vast amount of old or second-hand clothing that was constantly pouring into the city. The Everett School, corner Sixteenth and Sanchez streets, was selected for the second-hand clothing, and, by Doctor Devine's direction, Mrs. A. M. Curtis instituted the supply from this school of all second-hand clothing being sent to her. Later on Capt. Robert Field, 5th U. S. Infantry, was placed in charge of this school, Mrs. Curtis ably assisting him.

The enormous amount of food supplies arriving and en route soon made it apparent that some means of storage would have to be used to care for the surplus stores. An authority was received to use the three transports Crook, Warren, and Buford for this purpose. The Crook was placed at Folsom street dock and loaded with flour; the Warren at Oakland pier and loaded with flour and meal. When loaded she was pulled into the stream and the Buford placed in her berth, where she is now loading with the same cargo. The amount of cargo on these three ships to date is: Crook, flour, 1,567 tons; Warren, flour and meal, 2,200 tons; Buford, flour and meal, 2,000 tons. Permission was also given by the Quartermaster-General to hold the Burnside and use her for storage purposes, but at this date it appears that this action will not be necessary.

During the rush days of receiving supplies it was thought this spare storage space might not take care of the surplus, and warehouse facilities at Port Costa, of 50,000 tons capacity, was secured, an officer

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being detailed there temporarily to take charge of this overflow stuff. In a few days it was found that this station would not be required, and the reservation was released.

Up to date there has been received 1,331 carloads of relief supplies, aggregating approximately 26,620 tons, and 20 steamers have arrived with relief supplies approximating 5,700 tons.

On the 15th instant the division commander decided that matters had reached such a state that no more Government clothing, tentage, or equipage were required for the needs of destitute citizens of San Francisco. I therefore by his direction rendered him a full detailed report of all receipts, issues, money value of same, and money value of stock remaining on hand that could be diverted to War Department purposes. (Copy of report herewith.) A telegram was forwarded to the Quartermaster-General in reply to one from his office on same subject. (Copy of telegram herewith.)

The officers detailed as my assistants under division orders are as follows:
Capt. Wendell L. Simpson, quartermaster, U. S. A. assistant to depot quartermaster and disbursing officer.
Capt. Jesse M. Baker, quartermaster, U. S. A., in charge Oakland pier.
Capt. G. A. Nugent, quartermaster, U. S. A., in charge Presidio transportation and corral.
Capt. Peter Murray, 18th Infantry, in charge city transportation.
Capt. John J. Boniface, regimental quartermaster, 2d Cavalry, in charge Presidio warehouse.
Capt. G. H. Shields, jr., 3d Infantry, in charge Fourth and Townsend streets.
Capt. John J. Bradley, 14th Infantry, in charge Crocker School clothing distribution station.
Capt. J. A. Hutton, quartermaster, 27th Infantry, in charge Santa Fe, Point Richmond.
Capt. R. Field, 5th Infantry, in charge Everett School clothing distribution.
Capt. A. W. Bjornstad, 28th Infantry, unassigned at this date.
Lieut. L. D. Cabell, 14th Infantry, in charge Folsom street dock.
Lieut. George W. Winterburn, 9th Cavalry, assistant at Presidio warehouse.
Lieut. A. McIntyre, Artillery Corps, assistant to Captain Nugent, in charge of Presidio corral.
Lieut. Thomas E. Selfridge, 24th Field Battery, in charge Presidio dock.
Lieut. H. F. Wilson, Philippine Island Scouts, assistant to Captain Shields.
Lieut. A. S. Cowan, 14th Infantry, in charge Folsom street corral.

They are all energetic, capable officers, and it is realized that the great work thrown on the depot could absolutely not have been accomplished without their assistance. They have all worked in the best possible manner for the benefit of the service and the department. I desire, however, to give the following special mention:

Capt. Wendell L. Simpson's services were of the greatest assistance, owing to the fact that he is an officer of wide experience, entirely familiar with all matters pertaining to disbursements, and capable of taking charge of this most important branch.

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Capt. Jesse M. Baker, at Oakland pier, who worked in entire harmony with all the railroad interests, preventing congestion and confusion and producing the best possible results.

Capt. G. A. Nugent, quartermaster, U. S. A., in charge of Presidio transportation, has shown good business executive ability in handling these trains. The trains throughout the city have been organized into ten wagon trains, each under the direction of a wagon master of experience in the service. These trains have all responded to organization and rendered good service.

Capt. Peter Murray, 18th U. S. Infantry, who took one of the most difficult problems, that of city transportation, systematizing it and reducing it economically and on the best business lines.

Capt. John J. Boniface, 2d Cavalry, an officer of experience and most excellent judgment in managing the large issues of the depot.

Capt. George H. Shields, jr., 3d U. S. Infantry, who worked most untiringly at Fourth and Townsend streets, handling the vast amount of stores that came in at this depot systematically, expeditiously, and of advantage to the Government.

Lieut. L. D. Cabell, 14th U. S. Infantry, having charge of three docks (Piers 8, 10, and 12) and all transportation in lower part of city, using good judgment with zeal and energy, accomplishing excellent results.

Lieut. George W. Winterburn, 9th U. S. Cavalry, assistant at Presidio warehouse, who subsequently relieved Captain Boniface of this duty and is now in charge, is a young officer of zeal and most excellent business capacity. He has entirely filled all the requirements of his position.

Lieut. Thomas E. Selfridge, 24th Field Battery, in charge of Presidio dock, was in command of a battery at the time of the earthquake. He appeared on the Presidio dock as a volunteer, stating that his battery only required his attention up to 9 o'clock a. m., and therefore he desired to offer his services. His ability became apparent at once, and I had him regularly detailed for this work. The requirements on this little dock, as before mentioned, have been tremendous, and Lieutenant Selfridge's push, energy, and ability, disregard of all working hours—using night as well as day—has kept this part of the work moving. This dock never would have been kept clear without personal and energetic endeavor of this kind.

I also desire to make special report in regard to the assistance rendered by army tugs in preventing the conflagration spreading to the water front and destroying the docks and piers of San Francisco. On Friday evening, April 20, when making a tour of the water front, I found the situation near Pier 25 (Lombard street) to be most alarming. The fire was spreading rapidly, and the hundreds of cars on the siding at this point were in momentary danger of catching fire and carrying the flames well up the street and into the docks. I proceeded to Folsom street, got the tug Slocum and the General McDowell, took them to the danger point, and put them in service with their pumps to assist the large tug from Mare Island, the two firepatrol tugs, and many other commercial tugs that were working there. The wind was blowing fiercely from the west, carrying flames, sparks, and cinders over onto the dock. At 11 o'clock that night it appeared as though the entire water front must be destroyed. The Slocum had a very powerful pump, and, with the heroic help of Capt. I. L.

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Smith, master, who kept his main pump working through the hose onto the fire and the smaller hose playing onto the Slocum to prevent her catching fire, great assistance was rendered at this point.

Capt. John J. Stofen, of the General McDowell, with a less powerful pump, but with good judgment and ability, played on the sheds of the docks, preventing falling cinders from catching the roofs. Both tugs stuck to their posts all night long, and it is believed that their assistance at this most critical time may have saved the water front.

I also wish to state, in conclusion, that the clerical force of the depot have responded entirely to the needs of the situation; hours have been disregarded, and they have worked unselfishly and zealously to promote the interests of the service. It is hoped that this will be remembered if, in future, recommendations are made in regard to individuals of the office force.

Very respectfully,
Major and Quartermaster, U. S. A., Depot Quartermaster.
Maj. Gen. A. W. GREELY,
Commanding Pacific Division, Presidio of San Francisco, Cal.
Presidio of San Francisco, Cal.

Quantities of tentage, blankets, and equipage received to May 10, 1906, from all army sources for relief, as follows: Itemized list of articles here omitted.

Total issues to May 10, 1906, from supplies received and stock on hand at Presidio warehouses to destitute people and relief committees as follows: Itemized list of articles here omitted.

Total value of supplies received from all army sources to May 10, 1906, $993,539.11; total value of supplies issued to May 10, 1906, $638,238.31; balance available May 10, 1906, $355,300.80.

Issues made from May 11 to May 14, 1906: Itemized list of articles here omitted.

Amount available May 10, 1906, $355,300.80; value of supplies issued May 11 to May 14, 1906, $22,158.91; balance available May 14, $333,141.89.

Issue made May 15, 1906: Itemized list of articles here omitted.

Amount available May 14, 1906, $333,141.89; value of supplies issued May 15, 1906, $243.69; exact value of stores withdrawn May 15, 1906, $332,898.20.

Respectfully submitted.
Major and Quartermaster, U. S. A., Depot Quartermaster.

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