What would you eat in the Army?
The food a soldier was given, or issued, each day by the Army was called a ration. He knew it was time to get it when he heard the tune “ROAST BEEF” played on the fife and drum. The daily ration for a soldier was a pound of bread, a pound of meat. a gill (four ounces) of dry beans or peas, and a gill of rum. A soldier was very lucky, indeed, if he received all of that!
The bread was very hard – so hard that the soldiers soaked it in warm water until it was soft enough to chew. The bread was hard because it was made with only flour and water. The Army made the bread this way so it would last for a very long time before spoiling.
The meat was usually salted beef or pork cut into strips or chunks and soaked in salt water so it wouldn’t spoil. The Army issued salted and dried foods because that was the only way to keep food preserved.
Usually, the soldiers boiled the dry beans or peas with their meat. After cooking a long time, the beans and peas became soft and the meat less salty. The result was a tasty stew.
The soldiers were supposed to mix their rum with water before they drank it. Sometimes they were issued extra rum for doing extra work, or because it was a special day such as New Year’s or to celebrate a victory or comfort a defeat.