VII. Army rations: what they were.--how they were distributed.--how they were cooked.
“Here's a pretty mess!
“Fall in for your rations, company a!” My theme is Army Rations. And while what I have to say on this subject may be applicable to all of the armies of the Union in large measure, yet, as they did not fare just alike, I will say, once for all, that my descriptions of army life pertain, when not otherwise specified, especially to that life as it was lived in the Army of the Potomac. In beginning, I wish to say that false impression has obtained more or less currency both with regard to the quantity and quality of the food furnished the soldiers. I have been asked a great many times whether I always got enough to eat in the army, and have surprised inquirers by answering in the affirmative. Now, some old soldier may say who sees my reply, “Well, you were lucky. I didn't.” But I should at once ask him to tell me for how long a time his regiment was ever without food of some kind. Of course,
“God bless the pudding,
God bless the meat,
God bless us all;
Sit down and eat.
”A Harvard Student's Blessing, 1796.