The Civil War soldier: “I’m hungry!”

B. Nash as Union Soldier

B. Nash as Union Soldier



Someone once said: “An army moves on it’s belly.” Truer words were never spoken, I guess. Ever wonder what the Civil War soldier had for food? The book: The U.S. Army War College Guide to the Battle of Antietam edited by Jay Luvaas and Harold W. Nelson informs us of the following (as far as for Union soldiers):


“United States troops were generally well-fed. The official 1861 Army ration (per para 1191, Revised United States Army Regulations of 1861) included:

20 oz. of salt or fresh beef or 12 oz. of pork or bacon

18 oz. of flour or 20 oz. of corn meal

1.6 oz. of rice or .64 oz. of beans or 1.5 oz. of dried potatoes

1.6 oz. of green coffee or .24 oz. of tea

2.4 oz. of sugar

.54 oz. of salt

.32 gill of vinegar


Peas, hominy, or fresh potatoes could be substituted, and bread, either soft or hard, was provided when possible in lieu of flour. Desiccated compressed potatoes or desiccated compressed mixed vegetables could be substituted for the beans, peas, rice, hominy, or fresh potatoes at fixed rates. In 1862 the ration scale was increased slightly and more dried vegetables were authorized. For planning purposes the weight of one ration was calculated as 3 lbs.”


Sound like a lot of food? Sound like the soldier was well-fed? I don’t think so. And the Confederate soldier typically fared less. The cry in the camp had to often be “I’m hungry.” That was a sound more heard than the sound of cannon and gunfire…





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