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tankgeezer
08-11-2010, 07:43 PM
I spent part of a day at Andersonville prison, rightly named Camp Sumter, of the Confederate States of America.
The name Andersonville in the minds of many is synonymous with Auschwitz, or the 7th circle of Hell. Constructed in early 1864 to relieve congestion around Richmond, and reduce the perceived security risk of having so many enemy troops interned close to the Capital of the Confederacy, and easing the burden on Virginia's resources.
The location of Camp Sumter was decided when a former Governor of Georgia, M. General Howell Cobb suggested the central part of that State would best serve the needs of the project owing to the distance from the fighting, proximity to railroad services, and the presence of water, and other natural resources.
All of these desirable things came together near the town of Andersonville (which truly is in the middle of nowhere) The design, and construction began under the command of Richard B. Winder (Capt. CSA)
Originally planned to cover 16.5 acres, holding 10,000 prisoners, it had a stream running through the mid part of the stockaded compound. The compound built with slave labor was surrounded by a wall of close fitted Pine logs some 20 ft. in height. Within this wall was constructed a warning fence called the "Dead line" a prisoner found between these two barriers could be shot. To be continued....

the first pics shows white posts, the outer most show the position of the stockade, the inner posts are the deadline.
The second pic is of one of the state's monuments to their sons who died in Andersonville. This one is from my home State. The others are spread around the prison site.
The third pic shows the prison area from the S.W. corner, next to the Star fort. (the fort was one of the artillery positions located at each corner of the camp)

Gen. Sandworm
08-13-2010, 06:33 PM
Just going to say this ...... Wirz got the shaft. Im sure he was a bastard but no worse then the majority of the camp comandants (USA or CSA). Camp Douglas in the North was diffently in the same ballpark as Andersonville as far as humanity would be concerned.

For those that dont know anything about Andersonville they made a decent movie about it 15 years ago or so. Pretty accurate .... although some complaints.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115097/

tankgeezer
08-13-2010, 10:13 PM
That movie was one of the reasons I had wanted to visit Andersonville myself, The feeling of the actual place is darker than it appears in the movie. The Park Service published information about the camps of both sides, (for what its worth,) Andersonville has a death rate of 29%, Camp Douglas is 15% The Union Camp at Elmira, N.Y. lists a rate of 24%. Statistics aside, I agree that none of the camps were run humanely. The reason the camps became so overcrowded was that Lincoln had demanded equal treatment for all Union soldiers, regardless of their color. The Confederacy held a different opinion. In answer to that, Lincoln suspended the prisoner exchange program then in operation. So the camps on both sides filled up. The question of Capt. Wirz will probably never be settled, though I personally believe he could have done much more to at least lessen the privations of Andersonville. In todays world, who knows what he might have gotten.
The pic shows a recreation of the types of shelters the prisoners were allowed to make for themselves. Barracks, cabins etc. for whatever reason were not allowed.

Gen. Sandworm
08-14-2010, 06:08 AM
Some pics from wikipedia ...........

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/03/Andersonville_birdseye_ransom.jpg

Notice the lovely stream in the middle :D ... :(

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fc/Andersonville_pow_tents_photo.jpg

Im sure the smell had to be awful.

tankgeezer
08-14-2010, 07:54 AM
With as many as 30,000 men interned at one time, (the camp was designed for 10,000) that stream was the source of water for washing, drinking, and on the down stream end, the latrine. After a hard rain, one day, a spring broke through a bit uphill from the "sweet water branch" and furnished clean (er) water. The prisoners named it "Providence Spring" The stone house in the background is built over the actual spring.

navyson
08-14-2010, 08:57 AM
I have a book (somewhere) titled "From Battlefield to Prison Pen" from the 1870's-1880's. Found it in my grandparents book collection. It recalled a Union soldiers time in Andersonville among other experiences. If I can find it I'll maybe post some excerpts from it.

tankgeezer
08-14-2010, 11:10 AM
Andersonville Prison being a regular military installation (Camp Sumter) it had artillery batteries placed at intervals outside of the Stockade, built into Earthworks. The remains of these are visible today, and have guns placed in them. The guns now present appear to be bronze smooth bores of about 3" bore. I looked at one of these, and its marks show it to have been cast in 1861, Mfg by Marshall & Co. of St. Louis, Mo. (the one I looked at had a bird's nest W/ eggs down in the barrel. ) The positions to the North are smaller than those at the South end of the camp.
Pics 1, and 2 are of the "Star Fort" at the N.W. corner of the camp, is a somewhat star shaped Earthwork with a defensive trench surrounding it.

tankgeezer
08-16-2010, 06:39 PM
Andersonville National Cemetery was the burial ground for those who died in the prison, but after the War, in 1865, it was established as a National Cemetery. By 1868 it held over 800 additional interments of Union Soldiers who died in hospitals, other camps, or on the battlefields of southern Georgia. The Cemetery presently holds 18,000 graves.

Uyraell
08-17-2010, 03:32 AM
A stunning set of postings TG.
Small question. Was the reason internees were not permitted to build barracks because then, under CSA law were there dwellings they would then be would qualify to receive resources that could otherwise be denied because the camp had no permanent housing structures for the inmates?

In other words, did they "keep it classed as temporary" to avoid using resources or finances needed elsewhere?

Kind and Respecftul Regards TG my friend, Uyraell.

tankgeezer
08-17-2010, 10:46 AM
Although I suspect that either thought,be it resources, or that a temporary facility wouldnt need barracks may be the reason, any answer on my part would be speculation, as I have found no supported, factual information about the shelter issue, and few bare mentions of it. If I do ,I will post it here.

Uyraell
08-17-2010, 11:35 AM
Many Many Thanks TG, much appreciated my friend.

There's an eerie parallel with the use of concentration camps during the Boer War, a generation later.
Despite that they had Dutch/Boer civilians interned, and despite that same were often women and children, for the first few weeks at least, the UK Govt refused to allow permanent shelters to be built, and was even trying to deny/restrict the availability of tents. In this manner, the need to provision for the camp population was avoided because, being "temporary" the camp did not in effect legally exist.

Which is why I was curious if similar circumstances had obtained during the US Civil War.

Kind and Respectful Regards TG my friend, Uyraell.

Gen. Sandworm
08-17-2010, 02:44 PM
Although I suspect that either thought,be it resources, or that a temporary facility wouldnt need barracks may be the reason, any answer on my part would be speculation, as I have found no supported, factual information about the shelter issue, and few bare mentions of it. If I do ,I will post it here.

I couldnt be sure either! But the camp was ready about the time Grant took command of the Army. He was completely against prisoner exchanges due to the simple mathmatics of it. The North had more able men. Not everyone shared his idea or liked it. As a result im sure most thought it would be temporary. Although exhanges did happen after Grant was in command ... the were mostly stopped. Actually, John Wilkes Booth's original idea was to capture Lincoln and use him for the purpose of an exchange.

tankgeezer
08-17-2010, 04:46 PM
I had read that it was Lincoln, and Grant that stopped the exchanges due to Confederate refusal to treat all Union soldiers equally, (some mention of a massacre of Black soldiers was made.) I found this info which makes no mention of said mistreatment, but lays the blame on a few specific people.
In 1862 Representatives of each side met to arrange the format of exchanges, and how many of a particular rank were equal in value to higher officers etc.
Gen. John Dix (U.S.) and Gen. D.H. Hill (CSA) were these representatives.
In 1863 Gen. Henry Halleck (U.S.) became the representative in authority for the exchanges. He was pressured by Edwin Stanton then Secretary of War for the U.S. who proceeded to impede the program, and when Gen U.S. Grant was made the overall Commander of the Army the exchanges trickled away to nothing.(cut & paste follows)
General Benjamin F. Butler later said what Grant had told him: "He (Grant) said that I would agree with him that by the exchange of prisoners we get no men fit to go into our army, and every soldier we gave the Confederates went immediately into theirs, so that the exchange was virtually so much aid to them and none to us."

tankgeezer
08-22-2010, 11:24 PM
I was watching some History Channel tonight, and there was a bit about Camp Douglas, "80 acres of Hell" It was postulated by some at the time that the Camp's officials were under-reporting the deaths at the camp by a significant margin. It may be that Both Douglas, and Andersonville, were much closer in death rates than official figures would indicate.
Now as to the breakdown of the prisoner exchange program, the "Official Reason" was the south refusing to accord black union soldiers equal POW status. (Now it had been stated by other prisoners of Camp Douglas,(or rather shown on this show ) that Black Confederate soldiers were in some cases shot out of hand just for being black confederate soldiers.I dont know if any official records were made of this practice, or if its even true.)
The actual reason was stated as Stanton, and Grant had said, that the South derived great benefit from the exchange, but the Union did not, so why continue.
One bit of info may possibly answer the question of why there were no barracks in most camps, there were barracks in Camp Douglas, and they were said to be wholly infested with vermin, and that their eventual burning by disgruntled Union parolees was seen by the Chicago Medical establishment as a blessing. Perhaps living out in the open was less lousy.(just a thought...)

pennybatt
04-11-2013, 12:49 PM
My 5th great grandfathe,r Joseph A Ledford of Kentucky, died at Andersonville 6-13-1864. Papers actually say he died of diarrhea, which is listed as one of the top 3 killers there. He is buried in the mass grave on the site.

tankgeezer
06-09-2013, 07:25 PM
Dysentery, Scurvy,and Pneumonia, were among the leading killers at Andersonville Prison, as well as insect borne diseases as the place is hot and humid in summer, so insect populations will be enormous. (although this may have provided a bit of extra protein to the men held there.) Sadly, starvation, and physical abuse from other prisoners, as well as the prison guards accounted for many of those deaths.
I hope the pictures have given you some idea of life there, and some manner of connection with your Ancestor. It is a far more peaceful place now, and is well worth the time it takes to visit if you are anywhere near S.W. Georgia. Sorry to be so long in responding, but I have not been to this thread in awhile.

Rising Sun*
06-10-2013, 07:56 AM
... rickets .... were among the leading killers at Andersonville Prison

Rickets must have meant something different in Andersonville / Civil War usage to more recent usage.

Rickets as I've understood it for about half a century (because it was still around when I was a kid, ableit fairly rare in Australian born kids except those born during the Depression but less so in post-war immigrants and especially those from Southern Europe who came from more nutritionally deprived backgrounds) is a childhood disease caused by a lack of Vitamin D and calcium, which causes insufficient formation of the bones and leads to skeletal deformities, such as bow legs, in later life. It is not fatal. It also led to the school milk program from the 1950s to the 1970s, where free (I think Vitamin D and or calcium enriched) milk was provided to schools, ably assisted by a government desire to help the dairy industry. At my school I used to trudge past crates of it on summer days at the eastern gate about 10 to 9 in the morning where it had been sitting for an hour or two in the sun. By the time we got it about 11 a.m. it was warm to hot and vomit making with a thick lump of cream on the top. This well intentioned public health program turned a whole generation off milk for life.

Have you any information on the symptoms of rickets during the Civil War?

tankgeezer
06-10-2013, 08:47 AM
You are correct RS* , I made an error, I believe the malady I was thinking of was Scurvy. We had a similar program in grade school, milk came every day, and luck to whoever got a cold one. While I never developed an aversion to milk, I never drink it "straight up" has to be part of something else. Everyone spoke of something called "buttermilk" and acted like it was Napoleon Brandy. I tried it once, and it was just lumpy, spoiled milk basically. sort of a liquid lumpen yogurt. Never fell for that one again.... :)

Rising Sun*
06-10-2013, 09:49 AM
You are correct RS* , I made an error, I believe the malady I was thinking of was Scurvy.

That'd make sense.

And what'd also make sense is that, being old like me and therefore of limited memory capacity, you saw a reference to rictus and remembered it as rickets. (This is vaguely related to the deficiency I experience several times a day of going from one room to another and being unable to remember what I wanted when I arrive in the second room about five seconds after I embarked on the expedition.) Rictus can refer to an open mouthed grimace in life or death but I think it can also, or in earlier centuries did, refer to rigidity of limbs etc, as in this description of scurvy which, thanks to Australia being discovered by Captain Cook and his overcoming of the previous scourge of scurvy my generation was well schooled in (although now I suspect he's just taught as an imperialist, colonialist **** with no redeeming features and determined to exterminate our indigenous people) http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/empire_seapower/captaincook_scurvy_01.shtml

The difference between the link and what we were taught is that Cook made his crew take lemon or orange juice every day and that this stopped scurvy, as it would given that it was a disease caused by lack of Vitamin C. Until now, it never occurred to me to wonder how he managed to keep citrus fruits or juice fresh for months after leaving Europe where he must have acquired them, if he had them. The other version is that he had lime juice, which could be obtained in parts of Asia, and which is consistent with him administering it as his voyage got into the Vitamin C deficiency zone.

Rising Sun*
06-10-2013, 10:19 AM
We had a similar program in grade school, milk came every day, and luck to whoever got a cold one. While I never developed an aversion to milk, I never drink it "straight up" has to be part of something else.

Well, if America was the inspiration for our program, as it was for much of our post war things, it's something for which I will never forgive your country. :(

Nor will I forgive the stupid little bastard who reputedly inhaled the centre of a flavoured straw which made that hot milk slightly bearable, so that the straws were banned in all schools. (Probably the same stupid little bastard who kept getting eye injuries every year on cracker (fireworks) nights so that that marvellous avenue of pleasure has been denied to us all for decades.)

Not that I was one of the lucky few to have such straws, or a chocolate powder in a twist of paper to add to the vile milk. Like most of the class, I just had to overcome my revulsion at the ring of fat around the top of the bottle and chug it down.

This may surprise you, but my recollection is that milk vomit was the most common non-issue item in our classrooms and school playgrounds.


Everyone spoke of something called "buttermilk" and acted like it was Napoleon Brandy. I tried it once, and it was just lumpy, spoiled milk basically. sort of a liquid lumpen yogurt.

Same experience here with milk straight from the cow, pure and in tea with nauseating little lumps of fat floating around in the cup.

I didn't have the adults' expected orgasm of gastronomic delight when fed milk straight from the cow's teat (that was a real case of rictus). It may have been around that time that I decided that if I was going to consume any part of a cow, it would be in the form of a steak or roast, to which I have remained true since about 1960.

Milk is best left in the cow, unless it's being used for edible products such as butter and cheese.

pdf27
06-10-2013, 11:39 AM
Well, if America was the inspiration for our program, as it was for much of our post war things, it's something for which I will never forgive your country. :(
Bizarrely, there is a generation over here who still hasn't forgiven Maggie Thatcher for her ending our version of that programme!

tankgeezer
06-11-2013, 01:40 AM
I don't know if the U.S. was the first to institute a nutrition program for schools, the first National program came along in 1946 if I read correctly, but feel free to blame us though, I never cared for the stuff very much. The flavor straws were also a disappointment, never seemed to get the job done very well. I was however quite an Ovaltine fan. In the recent past it has been reported that the staple kid's food Corn Flakes was a trick to keep young male children's "urges" under control, if this is true, what heinous machinations were concealed within flavor straws, and milk ?
Being originally from Wisconsin, I do like some cheeses, and little is better than Butter.
Farm folks I knew that had cows, liked warm raw milk, (which smells like the cow it came from) so I guess it must be what one is used to ,though I believe that even cows would prefer a good Ale if they were ever given the choice.

Nickdfresh
06-11-2013, 05:28 AM
One of the things I've read that it seems has been missed by the older gents here like RS* :) is that cod liver oil was regularly given to some U.S. school children and to children in orphanages. The reason was its high density of vitamins D and A, the former helps the body absorb calcium and all the milk in the world is useless for bone development without it. My father and uncles in fact had to endure teaspoons of it before school --which still makes him wince to this day. I myself take cod liver oil after being told I have a borderline D deficiency. The omega 3 fatty acids don't hurt either. I don't take it with teaspoons however with the genius invention of gel-tabs...

Rising Sun*
06-11-2013, 07:17 AM
One of the things I've read that it seems has been missed by the older gents here like RS* :) is that cod liver oil was regularly given to some U.S. school children and to children in orphanages. The reason was its high density of vitamins D and A, the former helps the body absorb calcium and all the milk in the world is useless for bone development without it. My father and uncles in fact had to endure teaspoons of it before school --which still makes him wince to this day.

When I was a kid, when dinosaurs roamed the earth long before young Nick was born, it was common here for kids to be given cod liver oil by their parents.

It was also common for kids to be given castor oil mixed with orange juice to encourage bowel action, and by all accounts it was explosively successful in that endeavour. I never had it but, from kids I knew who did, it tasted significantly worse than the product it produced. Not having tasted the product to this day, I relied upon their knowledge and evidence in that respect.

There was an obsession with regular bowel function for health in that era (nowadays replaced by an obsession with germicidal bench wipes etc), which was encouraged by Laxettes in those who weren't sufficiently regular. Apparently the jingle, which we all knew well, was still being used in ads as recently as 1985 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UN63RzbuVb0

And for you military history buffs (as distinct from those of us living in a past of free school milk), here's an ad for Laxettes on the bottom right of the front page of a 1942 Australian newspaper covering the battle of the Coral Sea and various other wartime news, which gives a good indication of where the nation's news focus was at the time http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/page/1860844 . In the middle of the page you'll see a short item headed 'Strangled to Death' relating to the murder of Pauline Thompson, who it was later discovered was killed by a US soldier called Eddie Leonski who, I think, was the only American serviceman executed in Australia during WWII. http://www.ozatwar.com/ozatwar/eddieleonski.htm

Can I submit this thread so far for a prize for going so far off topic and meandering around that it is beyond belief?



I myself take cod liver oil after being told I have a borderline D deficiency.

Mate, the borderline deficiency you have goes way beyond Vitamin D. ;) :mrgreen:


Now, back to Andersonville, scurvy, and the Civil War, I'm wondering whether the prisoners who died of scurvy at Andersonville suffered it entirely at Andersonville or whether poor rations before their capture might have had them on the way already and the worse conditions at Andersonville accelerated the disease?

tankgeezer
06-11-2013, 11:50 PM
Thats an interesting question, and I would say that in some cases the deaths by Scurvy were due entirely to conditions at Andersonville. But, Andersonville was built to take the load off of several other Prisons, so the majority of transplanted prisoners would doubtless have already been showing symptoms upon arrival in Georgia. There were some prisoners who came from the field, and some of them had food with them which the guards allowed them to keep (or they were well hidden) The Raiders mentioned in previous posts would on occasion rampage through the yard ,and take what they wanted by force.
The Union Army was generally provisioned to a reasonable degree with the basics as much as possible, some meat, potatoes, and bread. I'm guessing that any fruits, or vegetables, were probably foraged. Poke Salad was a common if tricky to use edible (sort of ) plant that grew about everywhere, and was toxic if not prepared properly. But its cheap eatin', and consumed much like any other Green.
One interesting note is that in the 1860's milk was considered to be fresh even if 3 days old. I guess fresh meant that it hadn't grown legs, and began walking on its own. :mrgreen:

Rising Sun*
06-12-2013, 06:19 AM
One interesting note is that in the 1860's milk was considered to be fresh even if 3 days old. I guess fresh meant that it hadn't grown legs, and began walking on its own. :mrgreen:

It hadn't changed here by the 1960s, if the clag ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clag_%28glue%29 ) we were given under the school milk program is any guide.

tankgeezer
06-12-2013, 09:36 AM
We used the very same sort of stuff in our Schools,probably made by the same company. (possibly from rejected wall paper paste that didn't meet industry standards.) The weird kids in class were known as "paste eaters" .
The comedian Bill Cosby spoke of his time in Kindergarten, : "Like "Kindergarten" and how they never learn anything exept how to say goodbye to your parents without crying, And of course there's nothing better for a bunch of five year old children, than a glass of..Luke-warm, Curdly Milk" .
I think that if one was a horse soldier, and had some 3 day old milk, it might by dint of agitation turn into something more useful like butter, or cheese curds.

Rising Sun*
06-12-2013, 10:45 AM
I think that if one was a horse soldier, and had some 3 day old milk, it might by dint of agitation turn into something more useful like butter, or cheese curds.

Or botulism.

Which leads into something also related to Andersonville and times past more recent of a war nature, which is the diet of the common soldier and the common person in each era.

When I was a kid (apparently some decades before young Nick was thrust into this world ;) :D) lamb was a delicacy but mutton was the common meat. I reckon I'd go close to vomiting if I smelt mutton being cooked now, let alone having to try to eat it. Yet I ate a fair bit of it in the shearing sheds in the second half of the 1960s when the charitable cockies (farmers) took the opportunity to cull their aged sheep (i.e. sheep too old and infirm to be able run up the ramp onto the slaughterhouse truck) and feed it to shearing teams, and charge us for the privilege of supplying us with these rancid corpses.

I see in some of the gourmet pages in the press that mutton is making a bit of a comeback lately, which demonstrates that it doesn't taste like real mutton, because the latte sipping (or sipping the really good coffee made from beans shitted out by a monkey, FFS!), chardonnay sucking, al dente pasta gourmands wouldn't be able to handle such strong, fatty flavours.

But if we go back even to the immediate post-WWII years people were used to very much stronger flavours than they are now. And very different textures and proportions of fat, as exemplified by a version of Spam we had here called Camp Pie, which was essentially cereals trapped in sweating, somewhat jelly like fat once it got onto your plate in summer. It was solid in winter, but still tasted like shit. But it was pretty much the bully beef which powered the British Commonwealth forces in WWI and WWII, along with biscuits which owed more to the brick maker's art than anything to do with cooking.

Even as late as the period between the world wars, and probably for some years after WWII, I think it was common in some circles in England to hang game (hares, partridges, etc) until they were green and the flesh beginning almost to rot, before cooking them.

Take all this back to the 1860s in an age before refrigeration was generally available and I expect that if the prisoners at Andersonville were fed any fresh meat it was far worse than the fresh meat I got in the shearing sheds in the 1960s, albeit as a result of the same desire by the suppliers to get top dollar for unsellable stock, and that much of what they got that was supposedly fresh whether meat or vegetable was probably already well on its way out.

Combine that with what I suspect was a contemporary willingness to consume meat and other things which were a long way past their use by date and I suspect that there was a greater risk of disease from bad foods and perhaps less ability to get from spoiled foods the vitamins necessary to keep scurvy at bay.

Probably ably aided by people along the supply chain stealing the better bits.

Rising Sun*
06-12-2013, 11:02 AM
Poke Salad was a common if tricky to use edible (sort of ) plant that grew about everywhere, and was toxic if not prepared properly. But its cheap eatin', and consumed much like any other Green.


We heard of that a long time ago, courtesy of one of your singers. (I like only two types of music. Country. And Western. ;) :D)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRF24LY5pvw

tankgeezer
06-12-2013, 01:22 PM
I always enjoyed that song too. Some folks spell it Polk, and others use Poke, from my understanding that it was gathered into a sack (poke) and carried that way, so "poke" salad. To the dirt poor folks if they had nothing else to eat, there was always a pot of poke salad to be had. Other staples in the south were Grits, a corn porridge, which could be embellished with anything one may have to hand be it berries if in season, or pine nuts, seeds, Cracklins were also a popular additive, they were the very crispy bits of meat left over from rendering fat, or roasting whatever had been the most recent hunting prize. Fat was used for candles,soap, skin, and leather treatments, and even consumed straight up in liquid form. For grinding physical labor, it made an excellent fuel. (can't imagine being hungry enough to gag it down though... )
This is a cut N' paste from Civil War Academy .com from an article about military nutrition in the 1860's.
"That's probably the most well known Civil War food. Anybody who knows even a little about the war has most likely heard of hardtack.

There were plenty of other Civil War food options on a soldiers menu.

For example, one option was salt pork. This wasn't exactly a BLT but it was still meat...sorta.

The salt pork that was given to the soldiers during the war was a stinky kind of blue extra salty meat, with hair, skin, dirt, and other junk left on it. It was however, their main supply of protein. That counts for something right?

Letters from Civil War soldiers contain numerous references to bacon, but historians believe that the term bacon was used for all salt and smoked pork, not just the strips of meat that we now call "bacon". Salted beef and jerky were also given to the soldiers. Many ate salt beef only out of necessity. This was especially true for the confederates.

Salt beef was basically all of the very worst parts of a cow that you could think of. These lovely parts included organs, neck and shanks. but the basic meat was pork. Naturally, soldiers grew tired of this monotony.

In Union camps, sutlers (civilian merchants) sold items like canned fruit, sugar, tobacco, and coffee, but Confederate soldiers did not have sutlers stores, and relied on the generosity of local farmers for occasional treats such as fruit.

Civil War soldiers did occasionally have fresh meat to eat. This included cattle, pigs, and sheep. Armies would have entire herds following them while they were on campaign.

When in enemy territory, soldiers frequently helped themselves to chickens, fruit, vegetables, and other items from local farms and households, considering these the spoils of war. Commanders might reprimand soldiers for such acts, but this seldom stopped a hungry man from seeking extra food. During Sherman?s march from Atlanta to the sea, Union soldiers feasted on cattle, hogs, vegetables and fruit and destroyed what they could not carry.

When times were thin soldiers sometimes resorted to eating their horses and mules.

In extreme desperation, rats were consumed.

In the Confederacy things became so bad for civilians that it led to food riots throughout many southern cities.

Civil War soldiers were also given rice, potatoes, onions, molasses, and other non-perishable or slow to perish items, but hardtack (or cornmeal) and salt meat were favored because they were both easy to ship and easy to carry on a march or into battle.

Soldiers were given rations in three-day allotments; before a march or battle, they cooked their raw food so that they could carry it with them. A canvas haversack with a removal lining was used to carry Civil War food on the move. Although soldiers removed the lining and washed it when they had a chance, the haversacks soon smelled of old meat. Sometimes the salted meat given to the soldiers was past its prime, so they nicknamed it "salt horse".

Corn was really only available when things were going well for your side. Meaning not in the middle of a battle.

The same goes for beans, as they could not be consumed uncooked or improperly cooked. This would result in very bad stomach situations.

Peas were plentiful in supply and could be eaten as a meal in times of desperation. When there were no peas around, potatoes and rice would suffice.

Fresh fruits were really important to have in good supply.

Lack of fresh fruits could turn into Scurvy: a horrible disease that resulted in tooth loss, receding gums, night blindness, rotting lips, jaws, and cheeks, and even internal hemorrhaging.

All that was prevented just by eating an orange.

The men in the war also loved their coffee, and drank it whenever possible. Coffee was a treasured beverage during the war, for soldiers soon recognized its properties to keep them awake after many hours of weary duty. Raw, green coffee beans were given to Union soldiers, who roasted them in a pan over the open fire and then crushed them, often with the butts of their rifles. Confederates frequently had to use coffee substitutes, such as chicory or roasted acorns.

Civil war food was far from a balanced diet. Not surprisingly, a poor diet along with unsanitary conditions contributed to a high disease rate among soldiers on both sides.

Volunteer nurses and the volunteers who collected supplies back home for the soldiers tried to alleviate their monotonous diet by collecting fresh fruits and vegetables for them; although these items were not easy to send into the field, they were supplied in abundance to sick and wounded soldiers in northern hospitals and southern hospital workers also did there best to get fresh food for their patients, despite wartime food shortages.

Fruit was a favorite treat for ill soldiers; Abraham Lincoln often brought gifts of fresh fruit to the soldiers at the Washington army hospital, as did poet Walt Whitman who volunteered at the hospital.

Baked goods were another treat for sick soldiers. It was not uncommon for volunteer nurses to stay up late at night baking for their charges. Gingerbread was considered nourishing and easy to digest; it was often given as a comfort Civil War food to hospital patients. If we went back in time to the Civil War, we would enjoy some of the still familiar foods, like gingerbread, that the soldiers enjoyed, but we would also find some of the food, like hardtack, rather strange."

Nickdfresh
06-12-2013, 02:26 PM
When I was a kid, when dinosaurs roamed the earth long before young Nick was born, it was common here for kids to be given cod liver oil by their parents.

It was also common for kids to be given castor oil mixed with orange juice to encourage bowel action, and by all accounts it was explosively successful in that endeavour. I never had it but, from kids I knew who did, it tasted significantly worse than the product it produced. Not having tasted the product to this day, I relied upon their knowledge and evidence in that respect.

There was an obsession with regular bowel function for health in that era (nowadays replaced by an obsession with germicidal bench wipes etc), which was encouraged by Laxettes in those who weren't sufficiently regular. Apparently the jingle, which we all knew well, was still being used in ads as recently as 1985 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UN63RzbuVb0

The obsession is still with regular bowel function, only castor oil and other vile child abuse have been replaced by "probiotics" in the form of supplements and yogurt with "strains of good bacteria"...


And for you military history buffs (as distinct from those of us living in a past of free school milk), here's an ad for Laxettes on the bottom right of the front page of a 1942 Australian newspaper covering the battle of the Coral Sea and various other wartime news, which gives a good indication of where the nation's news focus was at the time http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/page/1860844 . In the middle of the page you'll see a short item headed 'Strangled to Death' relating to the murder of Pauline Thompson, who it was later discovered was killed by a US soldier called Eddie Leonski who, I think, was the only American serviceman executed in Australia during WWII. http://www.ozatwar.com/ozatwar/eddieleonski.htm

Can I submit this thread so far for a prize for going so far off topic and meandering around that it is beyond belief?




Mate, the borderline deficiency you have goes way beyond Vitamin D. ;) :mrgreen:

Don't tell the Sheilas about my borderline deficiency! :)


Now, back to Andersonville, scurvy, and the Civil War, I'm wondering whether the prisoners who died of scurvy at Andersonville suffered it entirely at Andersonville or whether poor rations before their capture might have had them on the way already and the worse conditions at Andersonville accelerated the disease?

I think TG summed it up best as foraging of crops and livestock probably alleviated the shortcomings of the wonderful staples such as Hardtack, bacon, and other heavily salted or dried foodstuffs and supplemented what constituted as standard Army rations. There's no question that the stresses such as sleep deprivation, forced marches, physical and mental abuse, exposure to the elements, and bare-minimum subsistence rations they were likely fed en route probably wore down the immune systems and reserves of body fat many of these men had even before they arrived at Andersonville (death camp)...

Nickdfresh
06-12-2013, 02:36 PM
Excellent article, TG. I recall seeing one "Civil War recipe" as being a piece of hardtack soaked in boiling water until it became mushy or pasty (like a batter). It was then moulded into a friable piece of dough and fried in "bacon" grease to make a sort of pancake, dumpling or fritter...

tankgeezer
06-12-2013, 04:07 PM
Thanks Nick,what you described sounds like Corn Pone, or Johnny cakes which were made by pan frying dough in fat . At first I had though this to be a Corn Dodger (assuming they were made with Corn) but those are baked, not fried. The American Indians made something called Fry bread which is a different thing, being deep fried in lard, and is much like a sticky bun. It is quite good, I've had it on several occasions. Mmmm, makes me want to have some cat head biscuits and gravy.
Hard Tac was made IIRC as disagreeable as it was in order to allow it to survive time, and handling as were the salt meats, and other canned goods they had available assuming not too much was siphoned off by rear echelon Q-masters.
I have some doubts as to the safety of cans in those days as to how they were sealed, I recall a maritime expedition up in the far north waters West of Baffin Bay in the area of Melville Island, an expedition from England I think. The cans in which their provisions were preserved were hand soldered with lead solder, and this having been poorly done, serious amounts of lead were exposed to the cans contents. From what I remember, most, or all of them eventually succumbed to lead poisoning and being driven mad by it.
I wonder if the Union had in their troops the same amount of "tribal knowledge" concerning identifying, finding, and safely using edible/medicinal wild vegetation as their Confederate counterparts. (or who has the larger set when they come across a honey Bee nest up in a tree...)

tankgeezer
06-12-2013, 07:03 PM
I found this bit from a paper written about Scurvy, sorry for another Cut N' paste, but I don't want to wear out my Rickety knuckles.. :)

"The American Civil War illustrated, in yet another example, that scurvy was land as well as a sea problem. Prior to the Civil War, scurvy was the most common disease in the U.S. Army.[231] For a country whose borders and army were ever increasing, cost, perishability, and logistics of supplying a proper diet to troops in the wilderness proved almost impossible.[232] The U.S. Army began distributing a foodstuff known as “desiccated compressed mixed vegetables” as an antidote for scurvy.[233] The food, however, proved impractical for troops involved in combat or rigorous training or in small groups because it needed to be boiled for five hours before it could be eaten.[234] Even when available, troops would often refuse to eat the mixture, calling it “desecrated vegetables” because the composite was mainly roots, stalks, and leaves.[235] Even when eaten, the mixture supplied almost no vitamin C because the boiling process destroyed almost the entire nutrient contained in the raw composite.[236]

During the Civil War, scurvy rates continually increased, from less than .5% prior to the war to nearly 3% just after the end of combat.[237] However, these figures show a vast amount of underreporting because only soldiers who died from scurvy or were sent to hospitals would have been counted in the total.[238] For example, if one soldier in a group was sent to an army hospital for scurvy, only he would count towards the scurvy total.[239] However, it would be likely that the entire group was suffering from malnutrition and likely was suffering from at least a milder case of scurvy.[240]
Scurvy also had secondary health effects during the Civil War. Since scurvy effects the healing of wounds, the disease led to increased mortality rates for those wounded in combat.[241] In spite of bettering medical techniques and medical supplies, the portion of battlefield wounded who died continually increased throughout the war.[242] This increase in death rates for the wounded almost exactly mirrored the increases in scurvy rates recorded.[243] For example, in William T. Sherman’s Southern campaign, scurvy and percent of wounded who died show similar trends.[244] As the army pressed on to Atlanta and vegetables became scarce, scurvy rates rose from .1% to .5% while the death rate of wounded rose from 10% to nearly 25%.[245] Once Atlanta fell and the rail lines were opened to deliver fresh produce, scurvy rates quickly dropped to between .2 and .3% and death rates for the wounded fell to less than 5%.[246]

One surgeon, when considering the increased death rates of wounded, later remarked that

[t]he great increase in secondary hemorrhage appeared to be referable to the prolonged use of salt meat, and to the consequent scorbutic condition of the blood,...the increase in pyaemia and hospital gangrene, may in like manner, have been connected in a measure at least, with the physical and chemical changes of the blood and organs, dependant upon imperfect nutrition and sameness of diet.[247]

Famous Confederate nurse Phoebe Pember, matron at Chimborazo Hospital in Richmond, noted that “Poor food and great exposure had thinned the blood and broken down the system so entirely that secondary amputations performed in the hospital almost invariably resulted in death, after the second year of the war.”[248] In fact, she noted that after that time, only two cases under her watch did not result in death—two Irishmen, but she noted “it was really so difficult to kill an Irishmen that there was little cause for boasting on the part of the officiating surgeon.”[249]

Prisons for captured soldiers were extremely prone to scurvy deaths due to the lack of proper nutrition and harsh conditions.[250] For example, the Confederate prison of Andersonville had scurvy death rates as high as 25%.[251] It can be reasonably assumed that given the difficulty in supplying proper nutrition to an army’s own men, spending resources to feed prisoners of war was not a top priority.

After a scurvy outbreak among Union troops during the Peninsula campaign of 1862, the public became aware of the disease and the general problem of proper nutrition in the armies.[252] Civilian groups began organizing event and food drives to support troops at the front.[253] The primary focus of these efforts was to collect potatoes and onions, both moderate suppliers of vitamin C.[254] At this point, citrus was known to be the best source of vitamin C, but oranges, lemons, and limes spoiled to quickly to be of much use if sent to distant troops.[255] These civilian groups would ride about their towns collecting potatoes and onions door to door, or would hold special benefit event in which a potato or onion was the fee for entry.[256] The groups would conduct informational campaigns by placing signs encouraging loved ones to send additional food to the troops.[257] For example, one sign posted in Chicago read “Don’t send your sweetheart a love-letter. Send him an onion.”[258]

Chronic diarrhea and dysentery were also blamed on scurvy.[259] These diseases were among the biggest killers of troops throughout the war.[260] In hindsight, however, it is known that vitamin C deficiency was not the cause of these diseases.[261] Vitamin B and folic acid deficiencies were more likely causes of diarrhea and dysentery.[262] However, the timing of the onset of these vitamin deficiencies and scurvy was likely similar due to the poor nutritional quality of the food supplied to soldiers, so it is understandable that the known disease of scurvy would be tied to the onset of diarrhea and dysentery.[263]

Overall, it is apparent that the government and common citizens were aware of both scurvy and foods that could prevent it. However, logistical problems, conditions during warfare, and cost made scurvy an enormous problem for both the Union and Confederacy during the American Civil War. The war, however, seems to be the last conflict greatly effected by scurvy as food preservation and logistics improved greatly in the coming decades."
Should anyone wish to read the entire paper, it is available here. leda.law.harvard.edu/leda/data/658/Mayberry.html‎

tankgeezer
06-12-2013, 11:43 PM
Or botulism.

Which leads into something also related to Andersonville and times past more recent of a war nature, which is the diet of the common soldier and the common person in each era.

When I was a kid (apparently some decades before young Nick was thrust into this world ;) :D) lamb was a delicacy but mutton was the common meat. I reckon I'd go close to vomiting if I smelt mutton being cooked now, let alone having to try to eat it. Yet I ate a fair bit of it in the shearing sheds in the second half of the 1960s when the charitable cockies (farmers) took the opportunity to cull their aged sheep (i.e. sheep too old and infirm to be able run up the ramp onto the slaughterhouse truck) and feed it to shearing teams, and charge us for the privilege of supplying us with these rancid corpses.

I see in some of the gourmet pages in the press that mutton is making a bit of a comeback lately, which demonstrates that it doesn't taste like real mutton, because the latte sipping (or sipping the really good coffee made from beans shitted out by a monkey, FFS!), chardonnay sucking, al dente pasta gourmands wouldn't be able to handle such strong, fatty flavours.

But if we go back even to the immediate post-WWII years people were used to very much stronger flavours than they are now. And very different textures and proportions of fat, as exemplified by a version of Spam we had here called Camp Pie, which was essentially cereals trapped in sweating, somewhat jelly like fat once it got onto your plate in summer. It was solid in winter, but still tasted like shit. But it was pretty much the bully beef which powered the British Commonwealth forces in WWI and WWII, along with biscuits which owed more to the brick maker's art than anything to do with cooking.

Even as late as the period between the world wars, and probably for some years after WWII, I think it was common in some circles in England to hang game (hares, partridges, etc) until they were green and the flesh beginning almost to rot, before cooking them.

Take all this back to the 1860s in an age before refrigeration was generally available and I expect that if the prisoners at Andersonville were fed any fresh meat it was far worse than the fresh meat I got in the shearing sheds in the 1960s, albeit as a result of the same desire by the suppliers to get top dollar for unsellable stock, and that much of what they got that was supposedly fresh whether meat or vegetable was probably already well on its way out.

Combine that with what I suspect was a contemporary willingness to consume meat and other things which were a long way past their use by date and I suspect that there was a greater risk of disease from bad foods and perhaps less ability to get from spoiled foods the vitamins necessary to keep scurvy at bay.

Probably ably aided by people along the supply chain stealing the better bits.

Mmmmm, Botulism.. People of the 1860's probably had the intestinal fortitude to deal with the greater density of bacteria in their food supply, as well as difficult to manage foods like Mutton. (I tried it once, and paid the price for being so adventurous ) Geriatric meat animals are good only for long roasting, or making sausage as they are so tough, and stringy. (or as bait for catching larger animals that taste better.)
It was not uncommon for the unscrupulous food mongers to foist marginal, and even bad food on the Gov't for use by the troops, just as they did in supplying the Bureau of Indian affairs with food for the tribal people who ended up in the reservations. Graft, and corruption seem to be a constant in every era of mankind.

JR*
06-14-2013, 08:02 AM
Very interesting information of Civil War military diet. Regarding mutton - this is pretty well unobtainable (except in the form of mutton dressed as lamb) where I am. I am assured that it can be delicious, with a better flavour than lamb. The trick is that it needs slow cooking - either very slow roasting or poaching, carefully controlled. Experiments done on medieval cookery suggest that this was a skill probably achieved by few, so that the result was more than likely to be either burnt black (and possibly raw inside), or undercooked like an Inns of Court dinner and tough, or overcooked (by poaching/boiling) and tasteless. I doubt if Civil War soldiers had any better luck cooking unfamiliar "lesser cuts" than most of us would now.

Seriously, preservation must have been a very serious problem. In the absence of modern refrigeration, freezing would seldom have been an option (unless there was an ice house in the vicinity). The solution was salting and drying - much better option than making sausages - and making the maximum possible use of dried goods such as rice, beans, lentils and hard tack. Roman soldiers of long ago seem to have considered a diet largely consisting of rehydrated salt pork and beef and lentils (boiled pig stew, basically) as a pretty good military diet on the march. In permanent camp, there would have been more variety.Perhaps it was not so very different for the soldiers of the Civil War. Best regards, JR.

tankgeezer
06-14-2013, 10:34 AM
It has been said that the greatest feat of the Roman Empire was not in engineering, or military prowess, or even civil organization, but domestication of the Rabbit. I read this is a book about Rabbits, so I will concede that the accuracy of the information may be suspect. It was stated that the Romans having discovered Rabbit to be a very good food stuff, quick to replenish, and relatively easy to transport, had taken great numbers of them along on military expeditions, and kept them in stone pens. This was not the best way to keep Rabbits as they burrowed under the walls escaping in number all along the route. It was inferred by this that the Romans not only domesticated the Rabbit, but by this "leakage" brought about the presence of Rabbits to most of the known world. (Except Australia RS*, it didnt say who was responsible for that.. ) As a food, Rabbit is a very good source of nutrients, having in 5 ounces as much nutritional value as 8 ounces of beef, (and perhaps Goat, and Mutton)
In the American South, wild game would have been Deer, Bear, Panther, mountain Lion, Bob Cats, fox, Possum, weasel,squirrel and snake. Birds available were Turkey,Pheasant, probably Grouse of some type, Vultures, and someone's Chickens. The problem with wild game animals is that they tend to migrate when the war would get too close.

JR*
06-14-2013, 11:24 AM
Yes, the Romans bear a heavy responsibility for the spread of Bugs and his family, directly or indirectly. And yes, the problem is that the little buggers dig, and stow away on boats, irrespective of any concept of their domestication. A solution long attempted, but with limited success, was to confine the rabbits on suitably grassy knolls or "land islands" surrounded by deep-embedded posts, or on actual islands - hence the number of variations on placenames including "Warren", "Coney", or "Coney Island" still common in parts of Europe and not unknown, I think, on the east coast of the USA. Why bother to confine them ? Well, they could easily become a pest in the absence of adequate predation. Or, to put it another way, the ate the grass from under the cattle and sheep. The rabbit was brought to Ireland, apparently, by the Normans, who appreciated the delicate meat of the animal as much as did the Romans. However, they little ... rodents could no more be confined here that anywhere else, and escaped from their "warren-mounts" and "coney islands" (they are, after all, rodents, and natural stowaways as well as diggers) to breed like ... rabbits and populate the country. In recent times - here at least - an effort was made to control wild rabbits by means of biological warfare. A disease called myxamatosis was introduced to the wild rabbit population, with results so disgusting and horriffic that the process was discontinued, but only after it had almost wiped out the wild rabbit here. The species has made something of a recovery but, for years, it was difficult to obtain rabbit here, and most of the shop-bought rabbit, even now, is likely to be farmed. Presumably, the modern rabbit farmer has better means of containment than Roman and Norman predecessors ... Best regards, JR.

Rising Sun*
06-14-2013, 11:34 AM
Except Australia RS* didnt say who was responsible for that..

Thomas Austin, the dumb *****. http://www.heritageaustralia.com.au/pdfs/Heritage%200306_Rabbits.pdf

http://www.pir.sa.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/173740/Rtn01a.pdf


Apparently you can't live on rabbit alone, based purely on me watching this on TV recently.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XC2RYiaM6WU

Having seen plenty of them, and nothwithstanding the assurances on QI in the link, I can assure you that nobody except the blind would eat a myxo rabbit.

Rabbit became a very popular food here during the 1930s Depression as it was cheap, but also something the suitably skilled unemployed could catch and convert into quick money.

By the 1950s / 1960s when I was a kid, rabbits were rarely seen in butcher shops because they were regarded as Depression food and nobody wanted to be reminded of that.

Rabbits were always sold in pairs here. Don't know why, but probably because there is very little meat on them and you'd need a pair for a decent meal.

JR*
06-14-2013, 11:37 AM
RS - did you Aussies not build a "rabbit-proof fence" right across the country ? Did it do anything to control their spread ? Not a subject I am very familiar with. Best regards, JR.

JR*
06-14-2013, 11:49 AM
Further point - I was taken by the "Depression food" comment. Lamb is regarded as something of a delicacy here - not inexpensive, and well-regarded. However, my father will not eat sheepmeat if he can avoid it because he was raised in a sheepmeat-producing part of the country (he is pushing 90), where this type of meat was associated with poverty, and the lack of anything "better". Who says the human race isn't one ? Best wishes from the Green Food Heart of Europe (most of the time), JR.

Rising Sun*
06-14-2013, 12:16 PM
RS - did you Aussies not build a "rabbit-proof fence" right across the country ?

No, the West Australians did. They're a bit like the deep South in the USA, only a few thousand miles west of the main cities and very recently richer because of their mineral exports (as distinct from the other part of Australia that's a bit like the deep South, which is in the north. Pretty much anywhere a good way north of Brisbane's latitude. Which also tends to be recently richer from its mineral exports and, like WA, magnificently forgetful of how the eastern states supported them in their poverty for the previous century or so.)
http://www.liswa.wa.gov.au/wepon/land/html/rabbits.html

The West Australians also had, maybe still have, men patrolling their state border to shoot sparrows (pretty much an aerial rabbit, but with no culinary or other utility) to stop them getting into WA's good bits.



Did it do anything to control their spread ?

Who knows?

Who cares?

Rabbits don't eat iron ore or other minerals, which are the basis of WA's recently booming economy.


Anyway, the rabbit proof fence is much smaller than the Dingo / Dog fence which, if properly maintained and with armed guards on road crossings, would keep Western Australians out of the eastern states. ;) :D
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dingo_Fence

Rising Sun*
06-14-2013, 12:23 PM
Further point - I was taken by the "Depression food" comment. Lamb is regarded as something of a delicacy here - not inexpensive, and well-regarded. However, my father will not eat sheepmeat if he can avoid it because he was raised in a sheepmeat-producing part of the country (he is pushing 90), where this type of meat was associated with poverty, and the lack of anything "better". Who says the human race isn't one ? Best wishes from the Green Food Heart of Europe (most of the time), JR.

My half Irish paternal grandmother made some great lamb dishes, from stewed lamb chops with a white onion / parsley sauce (which I didn't like as a kid but would love to re-create now) to a sweet lamb curry to a shepherd's pie, along with roasts and stews.

I suspect she got them from her illiterate Irish mother, but they're both long dead so we'll never know.

I hadn't associated those dishes with Ireland but, in light of your comments about your father and sheepmeat, maybe that's where those dishes came from.

Nickdfresh
06-15-2013, 08:32 AM
Not too long ago, I went to a "Halel" meat market on a work related venture located in a nondescript building in the back. Halel is the Muslim equivalent of Kosher and of course means that everything is fresh, very fresh --as in still breathing! There were cages of the biggest floppy-eared rabbits I've ever seen along with goats, turkeys, chickens, and I think some cows in another room. I was a little freaked out at first but just went with the flow. I imagine if I ate rabbit mutton I'd rather like it, but there's something in our Western culture prohibitory regarding eating cute animals that could be pets (even if rabbits are varmints). They looked cute yet slightly delicious lol..

Rising Sun*
06-15-2013, 10:35 AM
I imagine if I ate rabbit mutton I'd rather like it, but there's something in our Western culture prohibitory regarding eating cute animals that could be pets (even if rabbits are varmints). They looked cute yet slightly delicious lol..

It's all to do with custom and cultural acceptance, rather than logical selection, of which animals we choose to eat.

As a kid (a child, not young goat) I fed plenty of motherless lambs from milk bottles and they are seriously cute and cuddly and loveable, and loving in their own seriously cute way. Never put me off eating lamb, although the lamb we eat is a lot older than the cute little tail wagglers (before we chopped their tails and balls off, and in some areas mulesed them) who've lost their mothers.

My father in law was a farmer who was about to kill a sheep for the table when it rubbed its head against his leg, as it had done a few years earlier when he cared for it as a motherless lamb. He chose another one to kill.

Calves are nice, but so is veal.

I don't fancy eating dogs or locusts, but plenty of people do and will.

The Chinese, Japanese and south east Asians are probably the most sensible people on earth when it comes to food, because they will eat anything that won't harm them in the process. And a few things that will if not properly prepared, notably the Japanese use of fugu which requires licensed chefs to cook a poisonous fish, not always with satisfactory results to the consumer.

From the viewpoint of plentiful food sources, insects have a lot to offer. http://www.bangkokpost.com/lifestyle/food-features/352720/land-of-the-locust-eaters Until, of course, humans as usual alter the balance of nature by eating too many of them and open a window for unwanted and undesirable species to dominate. Still, as long as the new ones are edible, what does it matter?

tankgeezer
06-15-2013, 10:58 AM
I raised Rabbits for about 8 yrs, started as something "fun" for the kids, and went to 24 of the cute little beasties, we raised the fancy sort for show, or pets, the kids would never eat rabbit, even from an outside source. It is a great food, especially suited to those with digestive troubles, or lack a gall bladder as Rabbit has almost no fat. The high nutrient density makes what little meat is on one go a long way, (this is due to the manner in which they eat, they eat their food twice, running it through once, then again to finish stripping everything out of it. ) A commercial Rabbit is best at about 4 lbs, and yields a little over 2 lbs dressed. which is probably why they were sold in braces, to fill out the stew pot or a decent File' Gumbo. Rabbits are also relatively inexpensive to raise, at the time it cost about $2.50 to raise one to 10 weeks of age, and brought $12.50 from the pet shop.
I'm thinking that for the purposes of providing food for the troops in the field that the rural, and back woods boys probably had the edge over the city boys as they would already be well used to gathering plants, herbs, and knowing how to locate, and take game animals , and how to butcher, and either cook, or preserve them. Such skills at woodcraft might be found more in those from the south than the north, (though this is just a guess really.) Personally, I'm lucky to have a successful expedition to the grocery store...;) :)

Rising Sun*
06-16-2013, 08:57 AM
I'm thinking that for the purposes of providing food for the troops in the field that the rural, and back woods boys probably had the edge over the city boys as they would already be well used to gathering plants, herbs, and knowing how to locate, and take game animals , and how to butcher, and either cook, or preserve them.

Had the edge?

The rural boys would have been streets ahead.

My background was primarily city, but we had a 320 acre serious working (mostly sheep but a bit of beef) but still hobby farm for about half of my life until I was about 14.

My city bred father couldn't see a rabbit unless it was in plain sight, nor could I, but our neighbour who was about my father's age tried to teach me to see the rabbits he could see sitting under bracken and various other bits of cover when I couldn't see anything. At best I achieved about 5% of his ability to see rabbits all around me. What worried me was that my ability to see snakes he could see was well below my 5% success rate with rabbits. :(

Oddly enough, our neighbour's sons who were about two and six years older than me weren't all that much better than me at seeing rabbits, snakes etc. (The oldest one certainly wasn't, as he stood on a snake which wrapped itself around his leg and on another occasion refused to get out of a truck - which I'd already left - for fear a snake we'd run over had wrapped itself around the tailshaft - yeah, right! - or was otherwise lurking in the bodywork waiting to bite him.) I think this might have been due to their father being among the last generation which was really attuned to the land which had learned to work the land from their fathers with their hands, horses, axes etc during the Depression and WWII before mechanisation took over.

In the Civil War I'd guess that these skills and being attuned to the land and living off it were even more highly developed among rural soldiers on both sides.

I'd also guess that the country boys and urban tradesmen adapted better to being in mud up to their arses and eating slop in the Civil and every other war than urban boys who were clerks and the like before joining up.

I'd also guess that after a while those who survived were all of about equal ability to cope with lousy food and living conditions, as they learned to adapt if they wanted to survive.


Such skills at woodcraft might be found more in those from the south than the north, (though this is just a guess really.)

I'd take a guess that a higher proportion of city boys were in the Union than Confederate forces, just on the basis of the relative urbanisation and industrialisation of each side.



Personally, I'm lucky to have a successful expedition to the grocery store...;) :)

Yeah, my idea of perfect fishing is going out on my boat and hauling up filleted fish on those nice little plastic trays they have in supermarkets.

Beats me how the supermarkets can catch them like that but my fish come up all wriggly and bitey and slimy, without any plastic tray, and I have to get their guts and blood all over the place trying to make them look like their brethren on the plastic trays.

tankgeezer
06-16-2013, 03:08 PM
Plastic tray fish are my favorite.. but here you need a special license to go after those wiley critters. :) Catfish are the favorite hereabouts, people fish for them all the time. I see boats, out in the many finger lakes formed by the Tennessee Valley Authority hydro-electric dams. They sell fishing licenses by the day, or the year, and once you hit 65, its a one time fee of $11.00 to cover the rest of your days. Even the Walmart sells them. I was talking to the walmart guys who run the sporting goods section, and I mentioned this thread, and they all knew about Poke Salad, and had at one time or other eaten it when times were harder. (The telling sounds much better in the local accent) they also mentioned the use of Cattails as food and that most of the plant was useable for some type dish, even the pollen which was good as a type of flour. the flossy parts were good for making textiles from, and the reedy stalk was good part for eating, and part for making rush candles. Soaking the dry, fibery stalk in fat, which would be useful as a sort of candle. The center part of the stalk was useful as a crunchy sort of snack. Though I don't know if any cooking was needed for that.
I agree that the Rural, and backwoods folks were way ahead of the city slickers in providing for themselves with food, and medicinal herbs for supplements to food, and for remedies like poultices, and teas. It was their everyday activity.

Rising Sun*
06-16-2013, 10:51 PM
I agree that the Rural, and backwoods folks were way ahead of the city slickers in providing for themselves with food, and medicinal herbs for supplements to food, and for remedies like poultices, and teas. It was their everyday activity.

Like Granny's poultice in the greatest film ever made, whch brings us back to the Civil War, or its immediate aftermath. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkfgOHmNZss

tankgeezer
06-16-2013, 11:32 PM
My favoritest Clint Eastwood movie. There was always a Granny, or Mother somebody who knew Herblore, and made medicines. when I was a young boy, I had the memorable experience of a mustard plaster. It smelled as bad as it felt, but it did clear ones airways pretty well. Chickweed was always good if the mosquitoes got to you, took the itch away almost immediately. Then there was the aforementioned Cod liver, and Castor oil, which even after so many years gets me to cringe a bit. Tea made with Cherries is really good for Arthritis pain, with Catnip, good for mellowing after a tough day . (but a good Whisky can also do most of those things.) ;) :)

JR*
06-17-2013, 04:31 AM
A lot of farmers, from ancient Egypt on, might argue with any suggestion that locusts were, in any way, a desirable species to have around. As for undesirable species, I suppose it would be nice if we could find a way to persuade people to eat things like hobo spiders. Wouldn't care to try to farm the things, though - nasty.

They say that many kids in the West do not connect farm animals with food, and think that the ultimate source of chicken is the supermarket. In my day, the little chisslers had no option about making such a connection. Most of the butchers ran their own slaughterhouses, often on the same premises as their retail business. Blood flowed under gates, and trucks loaded with reeking sheep skins were a common sight on Dublin's streets. Of course, the pesky European Union did away with all that long ago. I suppose it is an improvement but, sometimes, I think that our lives have become a bit too sanitised, at the expense of our connection with common reality. Best regards, JR.

Rising Sun*
06-17-2013, 09:24 AM
They say that many kids in the West do not connect farm animals with food, and think that the ultimate source of chicken is the supermarket. In my day, the little chisslers had no option about making such a connection. Most of the butchers ran their own slaughterhouses, often on the same premises as their retail business. Blood flowed under gates, and trucks loaded with reeking sheep skins were a common sight on Dublin's streets. Of course, the pesky European Union did away with all that long ago. I suppose it is an improvement but, sometimes, I think that our lives have become a bit too sanitised, at the expense of our connection with common reality. Best regards, JR.

In the 1950s and early 1960s I grew up about a quarter of a mile from a suburban smallgoods factory that killed its own animals, mostly cattle, with bolt guns and then converted them into smallgoods (sausages etc). The workers, often a typical Aussie bloke of the period with a *** [edit: I love American prudery - the concealed word is gaf spelt backwards which is long standing Australian slang for a cigarette - does anyone seriously think that even the most brutalised abattoir worker would have a poofter hanging out of his mouth?) hanging out of his mouth, had no objection to us kids watching the animals being killed, which we thought was pretty interesting. It was also common for people to have a few chooks out the back in our suburb and to chop their heads off and pluck them, sometimes in semi-public sight. A lot of blokes of my age still remember the frantic chase to catch a chook so we could offer it up to the chopping block. It was part of life. Nowadays, most parents would probably go ballistic if their little darlings were confronted with such terrible sights.

Much the same as we've been removed from the death of people. In the same era I could see animals killed in the smallgoods factory, it wasn't uncommon for people to die at home instead of in hospital and for the priest to come to give extreme unction shortly before death and for the body to remain for a while while the priest came again and prayers were said, as happened with my grandmother, and even for people to come to pay their respects, and sometimes for the body to be viewed in the coffin at home rather than in the funeral director's premises.

Another aspect of modern sanitising is the obsession with germicidal kitchen wipes and the like, which don't rid us of much that really matters but ensure that resistance is not acquired to common bugs.

Meanwhile, personal and public behaviour which would have been universally condemned or not publicly discussed in that era is now condoned or even encouraged, often to no good purpose that I can see. The topics covered and the conduct condoned as usual in prime time popular television shows watched by the children of parents who'd go ballistic if their kids saw an animal killed worry me more than a kid seeing an animal killed. At least there is a point to killing an animal for food. I have yet to work out any point to idiotic shows such as Two and Half Men, although I'm not well qualified to comment on it as I only chance on very brief periods of it while channel hopping or waiting for another show to come on.

It seems to me that as a Western culture we've been very successful in protecting our children from the realities which are the necessary basis of life while exposing them to unrealities which are the unnecessary basis of expressing contempt for and violence towards people.