18374[civilwarwest] Re: Dining facilities
- Jun 2, 2003Like 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
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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