“Nothing nice to eat, and nothing good to drink.”

Edwin Lybarger’s Civil War diaries make frequent reference to food, sometimes disparaging the Army’s rations, or half-rations, sometimes rejoicing in abundance, especially from foraging.

Union soldiers cookingApril 5, 1862: In New Madrid, Miss, received orders to cook three days rations & get ready for a march against night. The order countermanded.

May 5, 1862: In camp at Corinth cooking & drying our clothes.

Sept. 18, 1862: Marched all day through the rain & camped at 9 P.M. near Jacinto, Miss. Crackers & coffee.

Hard tackSept. 22, 1862: Called in to line at daylight, marched until 12 P.M. with out any breakfast. Drew rations & went to cooking.

Dec. 25, 1862: In St. John’s Hospital Paducah, K.Y. Ate a Turkey roast for dinner and oyster supper at night.

Jan. 9, 1863: Found the 43d Regt. At Bolivar, Tenn. Boys all well but living on half rations.

Mar. 11, 1863: Camped at Ft. Hooker, Tenn. Have nice log houses to live in get plenty to eat such as eggs, butter, milk, chicken, & fruit.

Nov. 4, 1863: Crossed the Tenn. River at Eastport, Miss.and went into camp on the Alabama side. The boys killed and brought in one deer and several wild turkeys.

Union soldier foragingNov. 7, 1863: Resumed the march about 12 M, marched until after dark, and camped in the open field near Florence, Al. Forage every thing we see.

Nov. 9, 1863: Resumed the  march at daylight. Passed through Lexington Ala. Foraged heavy on the country. Marched twenty miles & went into camp. Had plenty of chicken for supper and sweet potatoes in abundance

Nov. 12, 1863: Resumed the march after breakfasting on stewed chickens, boiled sweet potatoes, corn bread, and the usual ration of coffee & sugar. Went into camp near Prospect, Tenn.

Nov. 18, 1863: Nothing of importance going. Have plenty to eat and nothing much to do but write letters and study logic.

Nov. 25, 1863: Two years in the service today. Received in invitation to dine with Col. Swayne tomorrow. Accepted.

Nov. 26, 1863: “Thanksgiving day.” Dined with Col. Swayne together with all the officers of the 43d. & Col. Fuller our brigad[e] commander. Had a splendid dinner, served up in good style, to which I think I did ample justice.

Mar. 26, 1864: Left for Pulaski, Tenn. early and went into camp at 12 P.M. Had aplenty of eggs to eat.

Apr. 13, 1864: At Decatur. All quiet. Have a plenty to eat, viz. soft bread, meat, butter, canned peaches, tomatoes & etc.

May 13, 1864: The army in motion at 5 A.M. in fighting trim. Encountered the enemy near Resaca. Drove him steadily back with severe loss. Morgan Ulery killed. Our batteries get in position and silence the rebels’ guns. Laid on our arms all night. No blankets and nothing to eat but hard tack and sow belly.

June 1, 1864: McPherson retires his right by falling back some three miles northeast of Dallas. The rebs having caused something by their … charges & repulses, do not attempt to crowd us as we fall back. Hooker moves to the left. The soldiers on short rations. Our “grub” not of as fine a quality as I have eaten.

July 3, 1864: In the officers’ hospital near Rome, without any accommodations … Get a few berries & some sweet milk. The citizens as a general thing gone.

July 4, 1864: In hospital. Rome, Ga. No guns fired nor nothing else done to commemorate the day. Left Rome at 7 P.M. for Chattanooga. Arrive at Kingston and remain for the night. Fed by the sanitary. [U.S.Sanitary Commission].

Nov. 16, 1864: Marched towards McDonald, Georgia. Find abundance of forage in the country, and we have no scruples about taking it.

Dec. 3, 1864: Marched to a station numbered 7. Encamped for the night. Forage plenty, soil sandy, affording abundance of sweet potatoes; we didn’t take any, no, not any.

Dec. 13, 1864: In front of Savannah; news received that Hazen’s division of the 15th Army Corps has taken Ft. McAllister at the mouth of the Ogeechee river. Out of provisions and living on sweet potatoes and rice.

Jan. 1, 1865: The 43rd on the Ogeechee Canal, 15 miles from Savannah with nothing nice to eat and nothing good to drink.


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