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[135] to encounter at shorter range. It sometimes happened that the men would extract a good deal of amusement out of this ration, when an extremely unsavory lot was served out, by arranging a funeral, making the appointments as complete as possible, with bearers, a bier improvised of boards or a hardtack box, on which was the beef accompanied by scraps of old harness to indicate the original of the remains, and then, attended by solemn music and a mournful procession, it would be carried to the company sink and dumped, after a solemn mummery of words had been spoken, and a volley fired over its unhallowed grave.

So salt was this ration that it was impossible to freshen it too much, and it was not an unusual occurrence for troops encamped by a running brook to tie a piece of this beef to the end of a cord, and throw it into the brook at night, to remain freshening until the following morning as a necessary preparative to cooking.

Salt pork was the principal meat ration — the main stay as it were. Company cooks boiled it. There was little else they could do with it, but it was an extremely useful ration to the men when served out raw. They almost never boiled it, but, as I have already shown, much of it was used for frying purposes. On the march it was broiled and eaten with hard bread, while much of it was eaten raw, sandwiched between hardtack. Of course it was used with stewed as well as baked beans, and was an ingredient of soups and lobscouse. Many of us have since learned to call it an indigestible ration, but we ignored the existence of such a thing as a stomach in the army, and then regarded pork as an indispensable one. Much of it was musty and rancid, like the salt horse, and much more was flabby, stringy, “sow-belly,” as the men called it, which, at this remove in distance, does not seem appetizing, however it may have seemed at the time. The government had a pork-packing factory of its own in Chicago, from which tons of this ration were furnished.

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