Hardtack was a treat given to every Union soldier during the Civil War. The Confederates were given corn bread which was equally unpleasant.
Ok so this bread wasn’t that great of a treat but it was still edible with some effort.
It was made of flour, water, salt, and lard in northern factories and packed in wooden crates for shipping.
The handy biscuits had a bland, but satisfactory taste when eaten fresh.
However, most of it sat around for months before it was distributed to the soldiers, so it was hard, tasteless, and often infested with weevils.
Soldiers called the hard little biscuits, tooth-dullers and dipped them in coffee or cooked them along with salt pork. Confederate soldiers made a similar meal by mixing cornmeal in with salt pork as it cooked.
Typical Civil War hardtack
At this point it was beyond stale. It became a virtual rock which sometimes contained weevils and maggots. Not exactly appetizing.
A soldier’ ration was a pound per day of this lovely treat.Needless to say they didn’t like it very much but if your a soldier in the field and that’s all you have to eat then it will just have to do.
This bread would often be boiled to soften it up. It would be broken up to be used in soup or a nice layer of lard would be spread on them kind of how you might put jelly on toast.