was the molasses cakes
which the sutlers vended at the rate of six for a quarter.
They made a pleasant and not too rich or expensive dessert when hardtack got to be a burden.
Then, one could buy sugar or molasses or flour of them, though at a higher price than the commissary charged for the same articles.
The commissary, I think I have explained, was an officer in charge of government rations.
From him quartermasters obtained their supplies for the rank and file, on a written requisition given by the commander of a regiment or battery.
He also sold supplies for officers' messes at cost price, and also to members of the rank and file, if they presented an order signed by a commissioned officer.
Towards the end of the war sutlers kept self-raising flour, which they sold in packages of a few pounds.
This the men bought quite generally to make into fritters or pancakes.
It would have pleased the celebrated four thousand dollar cook at the Parker House
, in Boston
, could he have seen the men cook these fritters.
The mixing was a simple matter, as water was the only addition which the flour required, but the fun was in the turning.
A little experience enabled a
man to turn them without the aid of a knife, by first giving the fry-pan a little toss upward and forward.
This threw the cake out and over, to be caught again the uncooked side down — all in a half-second.
But the miscalculations and mishaps experienced in performing this piece of culinary detail were numerous and amusing, many a cake being dropped into the fire, or taken by a sudden puff of wind, just as it got edgewise in the air, and whisked into the dirt.