Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Victualling the Army

I had the honor of speaking to the Huntsville, AL chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution this week.  We had a good crowd of about 50+ folks there.  I was asked to speak on Camp Life of the Revolutionary War soldier.  That would be daunting subject to cover in such a short speech, so I limited my talk to army rations.  The presentation was well received, and I think I brought some new information to the group.  I also brought some samples of ship's biscuit (hardtack) and corn pone.  The samples were not as well received as I was!

Speaking to the Huntsville, Alabama Sons of the American Revolution on Army Rations

The title of this blog entry, and of my presentation came from an excellent article by the same title by my good friend Todd Post.  That article covers all aspects of rations and cookery in the Revolutionary War armies.

Here are some simple recipes if you would like to try some ship's biscuits or pone yourself:

Ship’s Biscuits, Sea Biscuits and Hard Bread
Recipe for One Days Ration (1 lb)

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup pastry flour or all purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water

Mix the ingredients completely and work the dough into a ball.  Let is set up for a few minutes.  Roll the dough out until it is about 3/8 inch thick, use a large biscuit cutter to cut out the rounds, then punch them with 8 - 12 holes to let the moisture escape during baking.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 - 40 minutes.  Set aside to cool and let air dry for a day or two before packaging for storage.  Any additions to the recipe such as salt, sugar or shortening will shorten the shelf life considerably.

Fire Cake:  (aka hoe-cake, corn pone, corn dodger, ash-cake etc)

1 1/3 cup boiling water
2 cups yellow corn meal (not cornmeal mix!)
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons Crisco, lard, bacon grease etc
Add salt and grease to boiling water, then pour into the corn meal.  Mix thoroughly to make a thick, heavy glutinous dough.  Let it set up for about 30 minutes.  pat into 1/2 inch thick patties, using about 1/2 cup of dough. Can be cooked by baking or frying in pork fat.   The soldiers cooked them in the ashes, on flat rocks or on the blades of shovels and hoes.

Corn pone plays a significant part in a chapter of my book, The Secret of Wattensaw Bayou.  I can attest, as can my characters, that corn pone with a bit of sorghum molasses on it tastes might good!

No comments:

Post a Comment