Saturday, November 26, 2016

Civil War: The Soldier's Food

The soldiers gathered in small groups each evening to prepare their food.  The food was low quality for both armies, but the Confederate soldier suffered more from lack of food.   For soldiers of the North, some food was obtained by plunder.  When food deliveries were interrupted by weather delays or other challenges, soldiers were forced to forage the countryside to supplement their meager diets.

Yankee Soldier

Hard as a rock, this cracker was the bane of many a Civil War soldier.  The ingredients were simple: wheat flour, water, and maybe some salt, mixed into a dense dough, rolled and cut into biscuit sized squares.  Mostly a food of the Yankee or Union Army, soldiers called the hard little biscuits, “tooth-dullers”.  Hardtack was almost inedible and nearly dense enough to stop a musket ball.  To soften, hardtack was often dunked in brine, coffee, or cooked with salt pork.  You can make hardtack, the recipe follows:

2 cups of flour
 1/2 to 3/4 cup water 
6 pinches of salt
Optional:  add 1 tbsp of vegetable fat 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Mix the ingredients together into a stiff dough, knead several times, and spread the dough out flat to a thickness of 1/4 inch on a non-greased cookie sheet.  Using a knife, cut dough into 3-inch cracker squares.  Punch four rows of holes, four holes per row, into each cracker.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, turn crackers over on the sheet and return to the oven and bake another 30 minutes. Cool completely.

Confederate Soldier

Many Southern soldiers simply cooked cornmeal mush around a rifle ramrod.  They took the cornmeal and swirled it around in grease, making a dough.  They then wrapped the dough around their rifle ramrod and cooked it over the campfire. That was called "sloosh". 

Corn Pone
Corn pone was a staple of early settlers and Civil War soldiers.


4 cups ground white or yellow cornmeal 
1 tablespoon salt 
2-3 cups of very hot (not boiling) water 
 1/4--1/2 cup bacon grease or other oil

In a large bowl, add the hot water to the corn meal and mix into a thick batter. Cover with a dishcloth and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes. The batter should still be soft enough to mold into a small cake. 

Take your cast iron skillet and put it over a medium heat on the stove or over your fire, add the bacon grease or oil. When the oil is hot lay the cakes into the pan. Cook them until they are browned on one side, this should take about 3 minutes. Turn each and brown on the other side. Drain the fat and serve.

Food on the Home front 
Lacking many ingredients, the southern women learned to alter food recipes according to their scarce available resources.  

Oatmeal pie recipe:

The military needed a cheap way to feed a lot of people, and soldiers across the country were introduced to the idea they could eat their horses' oats.  So oats become a popular food.  During the Civil War  pecans were in short supply in the South, so oatmeal pie was a good substitute for southern pecan pie.


Idiot's Delight cake recipe:

An easy dessert to make, "Idiot's Delight" cake was quick and frugal.  It was often served on Christmas and Holidays.

To learn more Civil War food recipes and learn the history of survival of women in the south...

  Click here:

Brave southern women tell how they survived the desperate last days of the Confederacy in eyewitness accounts.  They outwitted the plundering Yankees and fed starving children. Includes accounts of slave women. Civil War food recipes:  cabbage stew, hoppin' John, oatmeal pie, Johnny cakes, molasses cookies etc.  Amazon Best Seller.

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