John Wilkins, Jr.

John Wilkins, Jr. (December 22, 1761 April 20, 1816) was a United States Army officer who served as Quartermaster General of the United States Army from 1796 to 1802.


John Wilkins, Jr. was born on December 22, 1761 in Donegal (now East Donegal), Pennsylvania and raised in Carlisle.[1]

At age 15 the younger Wilkins enlisted for the American Revolution, and was assigned as Surgeon's Mate of the 4th Pennsylvania Regiment.[2][3] He served in the position from April 8, 1780 until the close of the war on November 3, 1783.As a result of this service Wilkins earned the nickname "Doctor".[4]

After the war Wilkins became a merchant and contractor in Pennsylvania and Presque Isle, Michigan, providing supplies and equipment to the United States Army in the Northwest Territory.[5]

In 1793 Governor Thomas Mifflin appointed Wilkins as Brigadier General of the Allegheny County Militia as part of Pennsylvania's response to the Whiskey Rebellion.[6]

President George Washington appointed Wilkins as Quartermaster General of the United States Army in June, 1796. In October Wilkins attempted to resign, pleading the necessity of attending to personal business. His resignation was not accepted and he continued to serve, overseeing the supplying and equipping of an expanded Army in anticipation of war with France. Although the act of March 3, 1799 provided for a Quartermaster General with rank of major general, Wilkins was not appointed to that rank and served in the position as a civilian.[7] The dispute with France was resolved without fighting, and Wilkins served until his position was abolished in March, 1802 as part of a downsizing of the Army.[8][9][10]

After leaving the Army, Wilkins returned to his business interests in Pennsylvania, including serving as President of the Pittsburgh branch of the Bank of Pennsylvania.[11][12][13]

Wilkins died in Pittsburgh on April 29, 1816. He was originally buried in the yard of Pittsburgh's First Presbyterian Church, and later interred in Pittsburgh's Homewood Cemetery.[14][15]


Wilkins was the son of John Wilkins, Sr. (1733 1810), a Captain in the American Revolution.[16] He was the brother of Senator William Wilkins.[17] He was the father of Judge Ross Wilkins.[18] His grandson Wilkins F. Tannehill (1787-1858), served as the Mayor of Nashville, Tennessee from 1825 to 1827.[19]


The town of Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania is named for General Wilkins, his father and his brother.[20]


  1. Pennsylvania Society, Sons of the American Revolution, Yearbook, 1903, pages 90 to 91
  2. Daughters of the American Revolution, Lineage Book, Volume 58, 1921, page 178
  3. Francis Bernard Heitman, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army, 1914, page 592
  4. The Little List, Persons, Places, and Things in Pre-1800 Western Pennsylvania, W-X-Y-Z, Waggener to Zeisberger, accessed July 10, 2012
  5. US Army Quartermaster Foundation, Biography, Major General John Wilkins, Jr., accessed July 10, 2012
  6. Pennsylvania Archives, Executive Minutes, 1790-1817, 1907, page 197
  7. Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army. Francis B. Heitman. Vol. 1. pg. 40.
  8. Dr. Peter D. Skirbunt, The Illustrated History of American Military Commissaries, Volume 1, 2009, page 17
  9. William K. Emerson, Encyclopedia of United States Army Insignia and Uniforms, 1996, page 253
  10. A Sketch of the Organization of the Quartermaster's Department, 1869, page 14
  11. John W. Jordan, Colonial And Revolutionary Families Of Pennsylvania, 2004, page 886
  12. Quentin R. Skrabec, The World's Richest Neighborhood: How Pittsburgh's East Enders Forged American Industry, 2010, page 36
  13. George Thornton Fleming, American Historical Society, History of Pittsburgh and Environs, 1922, page 288
  14. Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, The Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, Volumes 25-26, 1942, page 179
  15. National Genealogical Society, National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Volume 34, 1946, page 84
  16. James T. White & Co., The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Volume 18, 1922, page 81
  17. US Government Printing Office, Senate Documents, Volume 6, 1917, page 106
  18. David Gardner Chardavoyne, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, 2012, pages 17 to 19
  19. Octavia Zollicoffer Bond, The Tannehill Family, Nashville, Tennessee: The Nashville American, 1909, pp. 1-5
  20. Wilkinsburg Historical Society, Wilkinsburg, 2007, page 4
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