"Nothing nice to eat, and nothing good to drink."

Edwin Lybarger’s Civil War diaries make frequent reference to food, sometimes disparaging the Army’s rations, or half-rations, sometimes rejoicing in abundance, especially from foraging.

April 5, 1862: In New Madrid, Miss, received orders to cook three days rations & get ready for a march against night. The order countermanded.

May 5, 1862: In camp at Corinth cooking & drying our clothes.

Sept. 18, 1862: Marched all day through the rain & camped at 9 P.M. near Jacinto, Miss. Crackers & coffee.

Sept. 22, 1862: Called in to line at daylight, marched until 12 P.M. with out any breakfast. Drew rations & went to cooking.

From the 1862 Army Officer’s Pocket Companion; Principally Designed for Staff Officers in the Field:

Camp cooking. Bones should never be thrown away, but broken up and boiled repeatedly. Meat or bones should always be put into the cold water for making soup, and boiled with it, not put into boiling water. Meat, previously wrapped in paper or cloth, may be baked in a clay case, in any sort of pit or oven, well covered over, and with good economy. Upon giving men time and opportunity to cook, and enforcing attention to comfort, depends much of their cheerfulness and efficiency.

From Edwin Lybarger’s diary:

Dec. 25, 1862: In St. John’s Hospital Paducah, K.Y. Ate a Turkey roast for dinner and oyster supper at night.

Jan. 9, 1863: Found the 43d Regt. At Bolivar, Tenn. Boys all well but living on half rations.

Mar. 11, 1863: Camped at Ft. Hooker, Tenn. Have nice log houses to live in get plenty to eat such as eggs, butter, milk, chicken, & fruit.

Nov. 4, 1863: Crossed the Tenn. River at Eastport, Miss.and went into camp on the Alabama side. The boys killed and brought in one deer and several wild turkeys.

Nov. 7, 1863: Resumed the march about 12 M, marched until after dark, and camped in the open field near Florence, Al. Forage every thing we see.

Nov. 9, 1863: Resumed the  march at daylight. Passed through Lexington Ala. Foraged heavy on the country. Marched twenty miles & went into camp. Had plenty of chicken for supper and sweet potatoes in abundance

Nov. 12, 1863: Resumed the march after breakfasting on stewed chickens, boiled sweet potatoes, corn bread, and the usual ration of coffee & sugar. Went into camp near Prospect, Tenn.

From the 1862 Army Officer’s Pocket Companion; Principally Designed for Staff Officers in the Field:

Stewed Salt Beef and Pork. Put into a saucepan about two pounds of well-soaked beef, cut in eight pieces, half a pound of salt pork, divided in two, and also soaked; half a pound of rice, or six tablespoonfuls; one quarter of a pound of onions, or four middle-sized ones, peeled and sliced; two ounces of brown sugar, or one large table-spoonful; one quarter of an ounce of pepper, and five pints of water, simmer gently for three hours, remove the fat from the top, and serve. This dish is enough for six people, and if the receipt be closely followed, you cannot fail to have an excellent food.

 From Edwin Lybarger’s diary:

Nov. 18, 1863: Nothing of importance going. Have plenty to eat and nothing much to do but write letters and study logic.

Nov. 25, 1863: Two years in the service today. Received in invitation to dine with Col. Swayne tomorrow. Accepted.

Nov. 26, 1863: “Thanksgiving day.” Dined with Col. Swayne together with all the officers of the 43d. & Col. Fuller our brigad[e] commander. Had a splendid dinner, served up in good style, to which I think I did ample justice.

From the 1862 Army Officer’s Pocket Companion; Principally Designed for Staff Officers in the Field:

Kabobs. For a hurried dinner, boil the rib-bones, or skewer your iron ramrod through a dozen small lumps of meat, and roast them. In all cases, if your meat is of a tough sort, hammer it from time to time, when half done, to break up its fibre, and then continue the cooking.

From Edwin Lybarger’s diary:

Mar. 26, 1864: Left for Pulaski, Tenn. early and went into camp at 12 P.M. Had aplenty of eggs to eat.

Apr. 13, 1864: At Decatur. All quiet. Have a plenty to eat, viz. soft bread, meat, butter, canned peaches, tomatoes & etc.

May 13, 1864: The army in motion at 5 A.M. in fighting trim. Encountered the enemy near Resaca. Drove him steadily back with severe loss. Morgan Ulery killed. Our batteries get in position and silence the rebels’ guns. Laid on our arms all night. No blankets and nothing to eat but hard tack and sow belly.

June 1, 1864: McPherson retires his right by falling back some three miles northeast of Dallas. The rebs having caused something by their … charges & repulses, do not attempt to crowd us as we fall back. Hooker moves to the left. The soldiers on short rations. Our “grub” not of as fine a quality as I have eaten.

July 3, 1864: In the officers’ hospital near Rome, without any accommodations … Get a few berries & some sweet milk. The citizens as a general thing gone.

July 4, 1864: In hospital. Rome, Ga. No guns fired nor nothing else done to commemorate the day. Left Rome at 7 P.M. for Chattanooga. Arrive at Kingston and remain for the night. Fed by the sanitary. [U.S.Sanitary Commission].

From the 1862 Army Officer’s Pocket Companion; Principally Designed for Staff Officers in the Field:

Salt Meat, to prepare hurriedly. Warm it slightly on both sides; this makes the salt draw to the outside; then rinse it well in a pannikan of water. This is found to extract a great deal of salt, and to leave the meat in a fit state for cooking.

Edwin Lybarger’s diary on the March to the Sea with the 17th Corps:

Nov. 16, 1864: Marched towards McDonald, Georgia. Find abundance of forage in the country, and we have no scruples about taking it.

Dec. 3, 1864: Marched to a station numbered 7. Encamped for the night. Forage plenty, soil sandy, affording abundance of sweet potatoes; we didn’t take any, no, not any.

Dec. 13, 1864: In front of Savannah; news received that Hazen’s division of the 15th Army Corps has taken Ft. McAllister at the mouth of the Ogeechee river. Out of provisions and living on sweet potatoes and rice.

Jan. 1, 1865: The 43rd on the Ogeechee Canal, 15 miles from Savannah with nothing nice to eat and nothing good to drink.

From the 1862 Army Officer’s Pocket Companion; Principally Designed for Staff Officers in the Field:

Plum pudding. Put into a basin one pound of flour, three-quarters of a pound of raisins (stoned, if there is time), three-quarters of a pound of the fat of salt port (well-washed, cut into small dice, or chopped), two tablespoonfuls of sugar or molasses; add half a pint of water, mix all together; put into a cloth tied tightly; boil for four hours, and serve. If time will not permit, boil only two hours, though four are preferable. How to spoil the above–add anything to it.

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