Recipes Made with Civil War Army Rations

army rations

During the Civil War, the Union Army rations were not up to today’s standard.  However, the troops managed to get by on them, the rations consisted mainly of salt pork (often bacon) or beef, hardtack, beans or peas, desiccated vegetables, vinegar, sugar and coffee, occasionally they would get rice or hominy.

The most common field rations issued to individual soldiers were salt pork and hardtack, both of which were designed to withstand field conditions without deteriorating.  Extra salt could be scraped off the meat to supplement the salt ration. The food often came infested with insects, especially weevils.

Confederate Army Rations were suppose to be the same as for the Union, but in reality were not as good and included a lot of cornmeal.

Soldiers being inventive soon were figuring out recipes to make their meals more palatable.  Some of these recipes may very well work for us after TEOTWAWKI.


      • Mix about 1⁄2 cup of corn meal into a bowl and moisten it with bacon grease thoroughly.
      • Next, add water to the cornmeal until it makes a batter about the consistency of pancake batter
      • Add salt to taste
      • Next, coat your frying pan with bacon grease. If you have already fried your bacon or salt pork then the drippings left over will be more than adequate.
      • With a spoon, drop some batter into the creased pan and spread it out to about the size of a cookie.
      • After about a minute, or when the bottom is golden brown, flip the fritter with a fork and brown the other side
      • Remove from skillet and eat.

Cush is probably one of the best-known Confederate recipes from the war and appears to have been a simple way to deal with leftover meat and cornbread.

      • Cut up some salt pork into small chunks and fry it.  Remove any excess grease, keeping enough to fry the cornbread batter to be placed on top
      • Mix up some cornbread batter and pour it over the cooked salt pork in the pan.
      • Cook further until the corn bread is cooked.  The end result should be a tasty cornbread hash.
      • Cush can also be made from leftover salt pork and cornbread
      • Cut precooked cold salt pork or bacon into small chunks
      • Place them into a greased pan to heat for a few minutes
      • Next, place enough water into the pan and let the meat stew until thoroughly warm.
      • Next, take cornbread and crumble it into the skillet.  Heat the entire mixture through until hot and all the water has been absorbed.
      • Remove and eat

Hardtack Pudding:  This is a tasty little treat that Federal soldiers invented.  This took a bit of scrounging to get the extra ingredients that were not part of the rations.

      • Take 1-2 full pieces of hardtack and wrap it up in a clean cloth
      • Break the hardtack up until it is almost a powder
      • In a frying pan, combine the crushed hardtack, one handful of flour, brown sugar, salt, and enough water to make a dough. This dough may be sticky so use flour on your hands to knead and roll it into a ball.
      • Pat the dough out until it is flat
      • Place on the dough any fruit that you may have in your possession
      • Fold the dough over into a dumpling making sure to pinch the edges shut
      • Wrap the dumpling into a clean cloth and place it, cloth and all, into a pan of water
      • Let the dumpling cook for around 15-20 minutes or until cooked.
      • Remove from the cloth and eat

Union Skillygalee:

      • Hardtack, broken into small chunks
      • Water
      • Salt Pork
      • Bacon grease
      • Break up hardtack into small chunks in the bottom of a bowl.
      • Soak hardtack for 10-15 minutes or until soft.
      • While hardtack is soaking, fry up some salt pork.  After frying, chop the pork into small pieces.
      • Dump the soaked hardtack pieces into grease remaining in frying pan.  Return the chopped salt pork to the skillet also.
      • Fry this until heated through.
      • Remove from heat and eat.

Now these recipes made with Civil War Army Rations may not come up to our normal standards, but when it is all you have, it will taste pretty good.


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