Friday, July 8, 2016

Marching Rations

In 1861, Julia Grant sent her oldest son, Fred, to go with his father on the field. What started out as what she assumed would be a "pleasant summer outing for both of them" turned into 4 years of Fred (and frequently Julia and the other children, too) often joining the General at headquarters. Fred experienced a good deal of camp life as well as the horrors of battle and its aftermath. Following his death in 1912, a New York Times article says:

"There are few soldiers whose active military career began when they were 12 years old. One of these few was Gen. Frederick Dent Grant, who died last Friday. At the age when other boys are plodding to school or playing baseball in the back yard, or fishing and swimming in the creek, young Fred was with that grim fighter, his father, before Vicksburg and elsewhere, while shells and bullets were being poured into the Union lines by defenders of the Confederate stronghold. And young Fred wasn't tucked away in some safe, remote corner either. He was fairly and squarely under fire for a good long time, so much so that one bullet hit him in the leg and thoroughly convinced him that he had been killed."

I've been busy this week preparing my own little guy to go out to "the front" and experience military camp life. While I don't need to worry about him being fairly and squarely under fire he does need several other small items to keep him comfortable during his "pleasant summer outing." ;)

I made a few simple drawstring bags to hold a couple of days worth of marching rations. These are cut down from some repurposed clothing and are a nice sturdy linen/cotton blend. I made two large ones from the indigo striped and two little ones from the tan stripe. These he can tuck into his wallet and carry with him, although of course there will be other things he will be eating while he's there. The little bags are perfect for some coffee and sugar - something the federal army often had access to, but considered quite a luxury in the south! 

Army guidelines issued 12 oz of bacon or pork while on the march (rations for in camp were different) and 1 lb of hard bread for one man for one day. These could be substituted with different quantities of fresh pork or beef (if available) and fresh bread (if available). I made a few batches of hardtack and about seven 4" cakes worked out to be 1 lb. More than I thought! The bacon is a great find from a local market and it does not need refrigeration. While Judah, with his father and the medical corp, could have had a lot of choice as to what to eat, marching rations seem the most practical thing to pack since they don't require any special preparation at mealtime. 

For fun I made some candied orange peel and wrapped up several little packets for him. This wouldn't have been issued of course, but could have been sent from home. 

And so he is ready to be off!


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