Antique.... Rations? Food For The Worm Museum, 1862

JPK Huson 1863

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#1
worm.JPG

There really was a museum called ' Wormiani ', HA! This hardtack tack story, out of Col. McLean's Erie, NY regiment could easily be found there. NYPL.

So the notoriously bad Army rations could be made worse by, of course, speculators. You just cannot focus enough attention on how much money can be made, holding a war. Men in the ranks suffered - as usual, made the best of it. Great snip!

funny hardtack funny.jpg
 

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JPK Huson 1863

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#6
Well, you do understand army food is difficult, with so many to feed, logistics beyond difficult and a mandatory 100 year ( just made this up, no idea what it is ) no spoil date. The thing is, shouldn't just being out there at war for one's country be sufficient sacrifice? Seems a little ungrateful of us, food so awful it's the stuff of legend.

Hopefully oversight is pretty strict today, although receiving rations from Desert Storm doesn't sound promising. 150 years ago government contractors could get away with murdering taste buds, gall bladders and teeth, delivering awful stuff to our troops. I have no knowledge of how many, it cannot have been all of them, surely!
 

Anna Elizabeth Henry

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#8
My dad claims that during Vietnam they were eating WWII and Korean War rations, so anything is possible. The only thing he said you looked forward to was your chocolate bar and cigarettes if you smoked.

I do think military food is better today as I do have friends who have been in various branches in the past 10 years or so. It also depends what branch you're in, too. My friend in the Air Force said the food was always first rate, especially the desserts. People in the Navy seem to be pleased also.

I wonder if that has to do with the more static nature of their situations during operations. Air craft carriers and various Navy ships can store fresh food, whereas Army and Marine folks are stuck off base far more frequently and in turn forced to eat MREs far more often than those floating around on ships.
 

Mrs. V

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#10
My Father in law was quite poor growing up, and he enlisted in the Merchant Marines.(WW2). His comment on the chow? He wanted to know what everyone was complaining about..you could have SECONDS! An unheard of luxury in his house. He did say that he thought turkey was terrible tasting, and could not understand how anyone would rave about it! Being that it was war time, they took him eventhough he was small and underweight. They told him he’d grow..he did.
 

byron ed

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#11
Nothing wrong with hardtack, it was made to last, and it did. It built character.
That said, there is way too much legend attached to hardtack. It was by spec. to contain a percentage of moisture, and by spec. would time out for issue -- it was not specifically"made to last" beyond a month or so. It was merely a practical alternative to the soft breads baked in long-term camps, to be issued on the march. Many of the stories about how "rock hard" it was actually describe outdated hardtack, no longer issue-fresh, some found years later, even post-war artifacts. Such are the source of many jokes about hardtack.

The problem is (if it is a problem) that as far as living history goes the story and legend of hardtack are presented as the fact of hardtack. Storytellers by nature don't want to give up the looks of astonishment and chuckles from an audience or from newbys in a reenactment unit.

That's not to say that on occasion hardtack, once out of the sealed barrel, wasn't issued dessicated and with weevils in it. It is to say that hardtack, army bread, had legitimate uses and there were standards for consumption. It certainly was not intended to "build character."

Anyone with specific knowledge of CW army issue food, please comment.
 
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