What were the American civil war soldiers' rations? And did they normally have to cook their own meals?

3 Answers

  • 1 month ago
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    According to Hardee's Rifle and Light Infantry Tactics, written by a U.S. Army officer from the South before the war, the rations for a soldier during this time usually included:

        20 oz. pork or beef (Beef was either fresh or salted, and pork was always salted.)

        12 oz. hard bread in camp or garrison or 16 oz. of hard bread at sea, on campaign, or on the march

        1 oz. compressed cube of desiccated mixed vegetables[2] or a 1.5 oz. compressed cube of desiccated potatoes if supplemental foods were unavailable.

    This would be supplemented by (per 100 rations):

        8 qts. of beans or peas

        10 lbs. of rice or hominy

        10 lbs. of green coffee beans or 8 lbs. of roasted coffee beans

        10 lbs. of sugar

        2 qts. of salt

        1 quart of vinegar

    The most common field rations issued to individual soldiers were salt pork and hardtack, both of which were designed to withstand field conditions without deteriorating. Excess salt could be scraped off the meat to supplement the salt ration. However, these rations required cooking to make them palatable. Less experienced soldiers were unlikely to have their own cooking equipment, and the large company-level kettles were sometimes left behind during rapid advances.

  • 1 month ago

    Beans, flour, bacon, coffee, and sugar were staples, though Confederates soldiers got corn meal instead of flour, which is less nutritious than wheat flour and caused vitamin deficiencies for Southern soldiers. The bacon was often rancid. Both armies took what they needed from local farms or orchards. This wasn't outright theft by design, as it was policy to pay farmers, but often this was in 'script' redeemable only kind of if conditions were right. Union soldiers were regularly supplied, and supplies got more varied and more abundant as the war dragged on, whereas the opposite was true for Confederates. Many of the CSA troops at Gettysburg were barefoot, and it is very hard to fight a war barefoot.

  • 1 month ago

            The marching ration consisted of 1 lb. of hard bread, 3/4 lb. of salt pork or 1 1/4 lb. of fresh meat, plus the sugar, coffee, and salt. The ration lacked variety but in general the complaints about starvation by the older soldiers was largely exaggerated.

    And if they were in base camp & not on the march, their rations would include fresh vegetables, and other items.  And there were sutlers (traveling stores) that would follow the soldiers & sell them other things they might need.  

    They mostly cooked their own meals.  Though sometimes they would designate someone in their group to cook.  Or maybe a contraband (freed slave) would do the cooking.  They tended to be better cooks.  

    This was for Union soldiers.  The Rebels survived on less.  Often, much less.   

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