“The Civil War was brutal. Brother fighting brother- over trade, commodities, and servitude. That’s all there is to it. People of color was never the issue with civil war- people of color joined in willingly to defend their Master’s land; why? Cause it was their land and their life as well. Anyway……..”
While it’s true that the Union soldiers were generally better fed than the Confederate soldiers were, neither side was eating steak and eggs, at least not with any kind of regularity. Because an army really does march on its stomach, food supplies going both directions were interrupted as often as possible.
Unfortunately, often this meant burning fields and slaughtering animals, leaving them to rot, as a regiment passed through an area, in order to keep the other side from eating. The casualties of those actions weren’t just soldiers – the families who depended upon those animals and crops to exist also starved.
Because food conditions became so brutal, especially in the South, both soldiers and families had to learn how to survive with very little food.
What was a man to do if he was on the march and had very little time to cook, and very few ingredients to do it with? What about the women and infirm left at home?
How did they live? The answer is: simply and with what little they had on hand. God provided to those who kept faith in God.
The one advantage that both sides had was that the country was still agricultural. People, at least in the part of the country where they were fighting, weren’t dependent upon outside sources for survival not like we are now with trade and GMO crops. Family or estate gardens were the norm rather than the exception and fruit trees and wild berries grew in abundance. However, with the climate changes from nature we’ve seen, the norm isn’t normal anymore.
With a norms in place soldiers just went to grab food from along the trail and it allowed families who may have lost most of everything else to have at least enough to survive. Remember, too, canning was a huge part of life back then, so if families managed to hide their food or were fortunate enough to remain off the marching trails, they had food stockpiled.
The marching soldiers weren’t quite so lucky, and it wasn’t always because food was scarce. There was also the fact that most of the men had no idea how to cook; they’d never had reason to learn because they had women or servants to do that.
The North had an advantage here at the start of the war because they had the United States Sanitary Commission watching out for them. They were a system of volunteers that were trained to find and distribute food to soldiers in the field. These guys were prepared for an lengthy war with their neighbors.
The Sanitary Commission knew about what was in season where, and how to preserve it and transport it. It was their sole job to keep the soldiers constantly fed. That doesn’t mean the food tasted good, though, and they didn’t always come through so the soldiers were left to their own devices. But hey! they tried.
On the other hand, the Confederacy was a ragtag team who came together as farmers, miners, plantation owners, and other working men who were fighting for what they believed in. They weren’t soldiers and didn’t have any sort of organized system in place. They ate on the run and were dependent on what they could catch, hunt, pick, or pilfer. Families along the way were often sympathetic to the cause and would offer what they could.
Either way, if you have an entire army of people who are great at shooting a rabbit but have no idea how to cook it, you can imagine food-borne illness was a serious issue.
The typical daily allotment for a Confederate soldier was twelve ounces of fat-back (cured pork) and a pound of cornmeal (also called Indian meal) or hardtack. In the beginning, sugar, beans and coffee were part of the allotment, but faded out as food supplies dwindled.
Union soldiers received salted pork or beef, coffee, sugar, vinegar, salt, and dried fruits and veggies when they were in season. There were also civilian merchants called sutlers that set up shop in camps and sold canned fruit, sugar, tobacco, and coffee.
Hardtack was a staple on both sides and often was the only thing that stood between a man and starvation, though it hardly qualified as food and had practically no nutritional value other than carbohydrates because it was only flour, salt and water. Both sides also carried a canvas bag with buckles called a haversack that held their food and anything else they needed to survive for a few days on their own.
Finally, Confederate soldiers would often trade tobacco to Union soldiers for coffee beans, though it was done in secret because, obviously, fraternization was frowned upon.
It’s critical to remember here these were brothers fighting brothers. Unlike other wars, these men were still countrymen, though their convictions had brought them to war. Sometimes, men managed to find uneasy peace long enough to help each other. We may yet need to do this again on U.S. soil.
By the end of the war, things were so bad there were food riots in many southern cities because food lines had been severed, personal food sources had been pillaged and/or destroyed, and people were starving. Even rats were fair game.
We need not forget the beginnings or results of a war or awkward incidents on U.S. soil. I’m not saying it could happen again; but what if it did? Would you and your family be ready?
Always Safe, Always Prepared
Credit: Frank M.
*WOW! Thanks a lot for this info Frank!
The 5Cs – Survival vs Bushcraft
Thanks to Survival Lilly for the video/info
Keep the flag flying! It’s Heritage, not hate.