Civil War Wiki
File:Civil War rations.jpg

recreation of rations stored at Fort Macon, NC

Food logistics during the American Civil War involved the feeding of the massive numbers in the armies of the Union and Confederacy. The task fell to the respective national governments, or to the individual states that recruited, raised, and equipped the regiments and batteries.

The Commissary Department was the official organization that was charged with feeding the soldiers during the war. Both the Union and Confederate army had their own Commissary Department. The departments oversaw the procurement, logistics, and distribution of millions of pounds of food supplies, often shipped and stored in wooden barrels of salted meats, coffee beans, dried peas or dried beans, sugar and hardtack, a stale biscuit that would have to be soaked in a liquid such as coffee to soften and able to eat.

Often, while on field campaigns, the soldiers found themselves saving some portions of food in their haversacks, which were washable canvas bags that provided storage, but little in the way of food preservation. The soldiers' diets often simply consisted of mostly coffee, meat, sugar and hardtack, but they also had other food items such as salted pork, salted beef, salt, vinegar, dried fruits and vegetables. Rarely, the soldiers could get their hands on fresh items such as carrots, onions, turnips and potatoes and any fresh fruit.

The Union army was given food items such as bacon, cornmeal, tea, sugar, molasses, & fresh vegetables. Skillygalee was hardtack soaked in water and then eventually fried in fat. The Confederate army would fry bacon and add in some water with cornmeal to make "coosh". Coosh was prepared when the army would have little time to prepare meals during marches.