Dinner time at camp for officers and soldiers.
The Challenge of Feeding an Army
One of the biggest obstacles to tasty food was inexperience. Men of this time period had little knowledge of food preparation, a chore typically left to women of the house or female slaves. Male army soldiers were forced to adjust to battlefield eating.
- Hardtack (army bread)
- Rations of pork or bacon, or beef on rare occasion, were boiled, broiled or fried over open campfires
- Chickens, turkeys and small birds
- Baked beans were a northern favorite when the time allowed
- Molasses, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper
- Tea, but coffee was most desirable, though soldiers had to roast beans in campfires before grinding and grinding sometimes meant smashing beans between a rock and a rifle butt
Additional Food in the Civil War Rations
The armies also supplied fresh vegetables (sometimes fresh carrots, onions, turnips and potatoes), dried fruit, and dried vegetables as part of the ration when they were available. Men also foraged and scavenged the countryside for fresh food. Many also received supplements mailed from their family, offered by townspeople, or they could buy foods from sutlers who followed the troops selling pickles, cheese, sardines, cakes and candies.
Lunch time at our Civil War Encampment
Instead of hardtack and salt pork, the Meriden Lions Club will serve burgers and hot dogs fresh off the grill. The Meriden Historical Society will offer fresh home baked spice cookies made with flour, sugar, eggs, molasses, vegetable shortening, baking soda, spices (cinnamon, ginger, cloves), salt—ingredients available during the Civil War era.
A variety of food, beverages and snacks are available for purchase, including hot coffee—and you won’t have roast and grind your own beans!