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18374[civilwarwest] Re: Dining facilities

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  • Dave Gorski
    Jun 2, 2003
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      Like many Civil War subjects, there is more than
      one answer, and dozens of exceptions.
      Often cooking was dependent upon the individual unit.
      In the case of the 11th Indiana Battery, a unit that
      I tend to refer to often since I've done extensive
      research on them, they hired cooks although not
      authorized to do so.
      While at Shiloh, a Lt. in the battery wrote,"Our
      company would be called by some an abolition
      concern. We have eight contrabands hired for
      cooking, and this in spite of General Buell's order
      excluding them."
      The United States Sanitary Commission found that
      after a three month campaign with unsupervised
      cooking, up to 40 % of a regiment's soldiers could be
      lost to intestinal problems. They noticed a substantial
      improvement in the health of units who had hired
      cooks for large numbers of men, and by 1863 Congress
      authorized the hiring of cooks down to the company
      On March 3, 1863, John Caruthers, a 24 year old
      man of "African Descent", was mustered into the all
      white 11th Indiana Battery as an under cook.
      Even while actively campaigning the battery continued
      to use their cooks. On the Atlanta campaign, July 24,
      1864, Lt. Otto reports that "a wheel horse of the
      number one gun had its leg broken by a cannon ball
      which continued to roll into the battery cook department
      creating havoc among the dishes."
      Yes, many units probably still issued the ration directly
      to the men and left them to cook for themselves. But
      that was not always the case. As for the quality of
      food in garrison as opposed to the field. I think that
      there are exceptions there as well. Campaigning very
      often provided the men with the opportunity for fresh
      fruits and vegetables. On several occasions the men
      of the battery, while moving, were able to locate fresh
      peaches, "we took all we could carry." On several other
      occasions vegetables were found, and at least once they
      even made a soup with some clams that they found.

      Regards, Dave Gorski
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