1. Welcome to the CivilWarTalk, a forum for questions and discussions about the American Civil War! Become a member today for full access to all of our resources, it's fast, simple, and absolutely free! If you aren't ready for that, try posting your question or comment as a guest!

Corn Coffee ?

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by atuttle32, Aug 25, 2011.

  1. atuttle32

    atuttle32 Corporal

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2011
    Messages:
    446
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    I am reading Fighting for the Confederacy, and in the part regarding Gettysburg, Porter Alexander states that they had "a little breakfast and corn coffee before starting".

    What is corn coffee (sounds much worse than the french vanilla I had this morning), and what was the standard fare for soldiers towards the middle of the war? I'm assuming where they were located had a lot to do with it ... if they were close to the rails, farms, etc.
     

  2. (Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
  3. diane

    diane Colonel Forum Host

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2010
    Messages:
    12,592
    Location:
    State of Jefferson
    I have heard of Confederates using dark roasted dried corn for a coffee substitute. We have a 'coffee thread' around here somewhere!

    There is a modern corn coffee made of cornmeal, sugar and cinnamon. (Sounds like mush to me but they say it's coffee!)
     
  4. brass napoleon

    brass napoleon Major Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2010
    Messages:
    9,810
    Location:
    Ohio
    The best part of waking up... is kernels in your cup!

    I've heard of them making coffee out of potatoes and just about anything handy.
     
  5. atuttle32

    atuttle32 Corporal

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2011
    Messages:
    446
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    I always forget to search the forums! Will do that in just a bit.
     
  6. IrishReb1863

    IrishReb1863 Private

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2010
    Messages:
    78
    I make sweet potato coffee a lot, not bad! I'd be interested in trying corn coffee.
     
  7. Rebel from Finland

    Rebel from Finland First Sergeant

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2010
    Messages:
    1,183
    Location:
    Tampere Finland
  8. ole

    ole Brev. Brig. Gen'l Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2005
    Messages:
    30,368
    Location:
    Near Kankakee
    Coffee. Real coffee was worth killing for. It is not magical that the reb would trade tobacco for a taste of coffee.

    I don't think I've gotten to that point, but there are some mornings during which I would kill for a cuppa. (And sometimes I will say "no thanks.") But the troops had to have coffee. Why? I don't know.

    Now. Nowhere in the US is coffee grown. Although there was blockade running, coffee was not among the essential ingredients of what was run. Hence, Johnny made "coffee" from whatever came his way. Roots, berries and parched corn. Union rations included coffee beans; green, already roasted and who shot john. But it was coffee.

    Remember that poignant scene in G&G where a Union soldier and a Reb swapped coffee for a smoke? That was more real than a lot of the movie. Maybe inventive, but tobacco doesn't grow in Union States, and coffee doesn't grow in any state. Northern ports were open for coffee import. Southern ports were not.
     
  9. atuttle32

    atuttle32 Corporal

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2011
    Messages:
    446
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    That's why I come here and ask all these questions. I keep forgetting about the blockade and the limits on the confederate supplies. But I do understand the need for coffee. Not just a craving, but the simple routine can do wonders for a soul - I need that routine daily. After Hurricane Hugo when my family was without power for a few weeks, my mother went just a couple of days without coffee before she devised a way for it to be percolated on the charcoal grill LOL!! And then power or no power, pine tree in the house or not - the world was right because Momma had her coffee.

    I've heard of people in the "old west" making coffee out of tree bark, but had never thought of roasted corn coffee.
     
  10. TinCan

    TinCan 2nd Lieutenant Forum Host

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2011
    Messages:
    3,417
    Location:
    Owensboro, Kentucky
    I've read that Confederates drank chicory coffee. I tried it once and thought it was nasty.
     
  11. donna

    donna Lt. Colonel Forum Host

    Joined:
    May 12, 2010
    Messages:
    11,886
    Location:
    Kentucky
    I have found many coffee substitute recipes. But yet to find one for corn coffee. There are many references to it being used during Civil War but seems no one wrote it down. Will keep looking. I have sweet potato coffee recipe and several made with corn meal and chicory. I have put some of the coffee substitute recipes in thread Civil War Era Recipes.
     
  12. K Hale

    K Hale Colonel Civil War Photo Contest
    Annual Winner

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2009
    Messages:
    16,037
    Location:
    Texas
    Wait til you get to the part where he tries to make hominy. LOL
     
  13. diane

    diane Colonel Forum Host

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2010
    Messages:
    12,592
    Location:
    State of Jefferson
    There's a serious connection between smoking and coffee - the nicotine speeds up the caffeine, and if you add a shot of sugar in the form of a doughnut - you're ready!

    There was a story - don't know if it is true or not - about the Petersburg siege, where the trenches got very close to each other. One day the Confederates in a rifle pit saw a little white hankie waving in a Yankee rifle pit. "Hey, Johnny! Don't shoot! Want to talk." Ok. So a Union soldier stood up with a bag and came over - he said it was coffee and he thought maybe they had some tobacco to trade. Come on over! He made the trade, even had a cup of coffee with them, then took the tobacco back to his rifle pit. One Confederate looked after him a moment and said, "Wasn't he a friendly fellow? Sure am going to be sorry to have to shoot him!"
     
  14. M E Wolf

    M E Wolf Brigadier General Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    Messages:
    16,299
    Location:
    Virginia
    Southern Historical Society Papers.
    Volume XII. Richmond, Va., January-February, 1884. Nos. 1-2.
    Reminiscences of the Last Campaign of the Army of Tennessee,
    from May, 1864, to January, 1865.
    By P.D. STEPHENSON, Private Piece 4, Sergeant Thomas C. Allen, Fifth Company Washington Artillery, Captain C.H. Slocomb, Commanding.
    Paper No. 1.
    (NOTE BY THE WRITER: This is not from a "diary." Early after the war, in June, 1865, the writer sat down and began to put on paper, merely for his own future satisfaction, what was still fresh in his memory of that famous last campaign. What is written is from a private's standpoint. Its only merit is sincerity. On the principle that everything may be of use that bears upon the war, it is offered for what it is worth.)
    "AFTER MISSIONARY RIDGE."
    [excerpt]
    Our stay on "The Ridge" was attended with a great deal of suffering. It was midwinter, and the low grounds behind us (that fearful "Chickamauga bottom"), over which ran our roads of supplies, were nearly all the time covered with water. "Corduroy roads" were built for miles, yet every rain would undo all our work and make it worse than before. The weather was stormy, and the camps would be flooded day and night. Winter quarters were not allowed to be built, and we therefore had no shelter. Starvation seemed to stare us in the face. For weeks at a time, we subsisted on two meals a day, and those "meals" were a small "pone" of cornbread, and a cup of "corn coffee." Our duties, meantime, were increased, for our ranks had ben lessened, and the enemy were becoming active and annoying. Sickness, for the first time since our stay in and around Corinth (Miss.), broke out in our ranks, and many were swept away. Demoralization spread fearfully among those men, who, but a few days before, had gained one of the bloodiest victories of the war. "Our sufferings are great," said they, "but we could bear them, if we felt there was no help for it." It was their secret conviction that there was help, and that they were the victims of official blunders. Their disaffection was increased by the rumors of bickerings among our leaders. Reports of quarrels between Bragg and his leading officers came down to us, and his removing from command, on the eve of the battle, one of the most popular Generals in the army, Frank Cheatham, looked very much like a confirmation of the reports. So, between the dissensions of the leaders and the various causes of discontent among the men, the army grew rapidly demoralized. The withdrawal of Longstreet to East Tennessee, together with the sickness which existed, had thinned the ranks greatly, so that at the time of the battle we did not have thirty thousand men. (In many places in the line, our men were in single rank, and sprinkled seven or eight feet apart, and there were gaps where there were no men at all.) Our sufferings from hunger were such that Bragg was on the point of withdrawing (such was the general impression) when the attack of the enemy began. It was thought, too, that it was a doubtful question: which was the most famished, the besiegers or besieged? General Grant must have had very accurate accounts of our condition; for, unless he did, his movement was a very bold one.
    =====================================================
    Southern Historical Society Papers.
    Vol. XXVII. Richmond, Va, January-December. 1899.
    Richmond Howitzers.
    Facts about the Battery During the Appomattox Campaign.
    Extracts from Official Records which Throw Light on Many Questions whose Solution has been Wanting.
    [From the Richmond, Va, Times, March 10th and 24th, 1895.]
    The reports of the Appomattox campaign embraced in Volume 46 of the Official Records of the war, have an intense interest for all engaged in that memorable campaign of March and April, 1865, throwing light, as they do, on many questions whose solution has awaited the detailed information embodied in these official reports.
    [excerpt]
    At Amelia Courthouse the batteries of Cabell's battalion were put into the advance column of artillery and trains under General Lindsay Walker, and moved to the right and west of the main body of the army. From the information now attainable there were probably a hundred pieces of artillery in this column which was pushed on in advance of the army. Being thus screened in rear, the column did not participate in the daily fighting in which the main body was engaged. Not until the evening of the 8th was it struck by the Federal cavalry, who had pushed to the front and across the head of the army.

    About 3 o'clock that evening the command had reached a point opposite Appomattox Station, some two or three miles beyond the courthouse, and had turned off from the road for rest and such food as was available for man or beast. Halting in the field, as each piece drove up, the teams were unhitched and given their scant food, or allowed to graze while the men were busied making their corn coffee and cooking probably the remnants of an old cow, from which rations had been dealt and eaten that morning within an hour after her slaughter. In this irregular bivouac so little was the nearness or approach of an enemy suspected that no sort of a guard had been set, and when the report of arms and the sight of Federal cavalry in the wood skirting the field, startled officers and men from their little mess fires or slumbers, the surprise was complete and astounding. So sudden and unexpected was the attack, and so near were the enemy when first discovered, that a brisk determined charge would have brought them within the battery before apiece could be unlimbered and loaded. For there is nothing more helpless than artillery when surprised, if once the line of battery can be carried by a quick rush. It is then a mere matter of shooting down unarmed cannoneers and driving them from their guns. Why such a rush was not made and everything captured on the spot, has often been the wonder of old Howitzers.

    [end of excerpt]
    =============================
    O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXXI/3 [S# 56]
    UNION CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN KENTUCKY, SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA, TENNESSEE, MISSISSIPPI, NORTH ALABAMA, AND NORTH GEORGIA, FROM OCTOBER 20, 1863, TO DECEMBER 31, 1863.--#16
    HDQRS. SECOND DIVISION, FIFTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
    Tellico Plains, December 11, 1863--4 p.m.
    Major SAWYER,
    Asst. Adjt. Gen., Army and Dept. of the Tennessee:
    General Sherman's note just received. I have to report all quiet, and no tidings from Colonel Long. General Lightburn left yesterday on the trail, and dispatched me last night, 15 miles out, that the country was anything but productive. We are accumulating seven days' rations for the division and three days' and some forage for Colonel Long, which if the rebels provide for him will go to waste.

    I shall immediately issue a general order upon the superiority of corn coffee over the miserable foreign stuff called coffee.


    I shall hear from Lightburn soon, and if it is of importance I will not wait for the regular messenger, but send it immediately.
    Your obedient servant,
    M. L. SMITH,
    Brigadier-General of Volunteers.
    -----
     
  15. Republican Blues

    Republican Blues Sergeant Major

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2010
    Messages:
    2,172
    Location:
    on the Savannah Station..
    corn coffee was probably made from finely ground parched corn... parched corn is easy to make. first dry the corn (I did it in the oven, set on the lowest setting, with the door J-e-s-t propped open once the corn is dry, get a greased skillet nice and hot. add the dried corn and keep it stirred untill the corn kernals turn brown the trick is KEEP STIRRING IT, or it will burn. then, just grind it up like you would coffee beans, and then brew it up.
     
  16. donna

    donna Lt. Colonel Forum Host

    Joined:
    May 12, 2010
    Messages:
    11,886
    Location:
    Kentucky
    Thanks for instructions on making corn coffee.

    The soldiers sure didn't have much to eat. I can't imagine living on a small pone of corn bread and corn coffee. They must have been so hungry.
     
  17. Republican Blues

    Republican Blues Sergeant Major

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2010
    Messages:
    2,172
    Location:
    on the Savannah Station..
    A misleading qoute, do you mean now adays, or during the war??? beause there is one state that Coffee IS in fact grown..... it is also the only State to have a Royal Palace, and to have had its own Royal family.... I speak of Course, of the former Kingdom of Hawai'i
     
  18. donna

    donna Lt. Colonel Forum Host

    Joined:
    May 12, 2010
    Messages:
    11,886
    Location:
    Kentucky
    Kona Coffee is delicious. I remember when my husband and I were in Maui we toured a coffee plantation. We brought back several pounds of kona coffee. Starbucks sells it but it is expensive but worth it for special occasions.
     
  19. Republican Blues

    Republican Blues Sergeant Major

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2010
    Messages:
    2,172
    Location:
    on the Savannah Station..
    Lived on the stuff when I was stationed at Schofield Bks prior to deployment. Use to go across the street every morning to the shopette before breakfast for a nice hot cup of Kona blend..... man it was good.
     
  20. kansas

    kansas Corporal

    Joined:
    May 12, 2010
    Messages:
    404
    Location:
    herington kansas
    All of us take for granted the water we drink and the food we eat. Anything heated up made a person feel better in the morning because the person did not have the rolling guts effect from the bacteria in the water being killed off in the heating process. Trying to flavor it to take off some of the odor and taste that gets much worse when heated was a worthwhile endeavor. There is an other coffee well known and used north and south then and now called corn coffee. It is just coffee or hot water with a strong bolt of corn whiskey added to it. For medicinal purposes of course, strictly for medicinal purposes.
     
  21. ole

    ole Brev. Brig. Gen'l Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2005
    Messages:
    30,368
    Location:
    Near Kankakee
    My bad! Forgot Hawaii.
     

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)

Share This Page