Civil War Letters: A Southern Dinner

8The longer the war lasted, the harder it was to find food on Southern tables. We often read about the soldier’s fare, but what were they eating at home?
I had the pleasure of reading some interesting accounts of Southern meals from 1865 written by Eliza Frances Andrews. Enjoy!

“She had such a dinner as good old Methodist ladies know how to get up for their preachers, though where all good things came from, Heaven only knows. She must have been hoarding them for months. We ate as only hungry Rebs can, that have been half-starved for weeks, and expect to starve the rest of our days. We have no kind of meat in our house but ham and bacon, and have to eat hominy instead of rice at dinner. Sometimes we get a few vegetables out of the garden, but everything has been stripped to feed the soldiers, that we never have enough to spread a respectable meal before the large number of guests, expected and unexpected, who sit down to our table every day…
Cornfield peas have been our staple diet for the last ten days. Mother has them cooked in every variety of style she ever heard of, but they are cornfield peas still. All this would have been horribly mortifying a year or two ago, but everybody knows how it is now, and I am glad to have even cornfield peas to share with the soldiers.”

“We have nothing but ham, ham, ham, every day, and such crowds of company in the house, and so many lunches to furnish, that even the ham has to be husbanded carefully. It is dreadful to think what wretched fare we have to set before the charming people who are thrown upon our hospitatlity. Ham and cornfield peas for dinner one day, and cornfield peas and ham the next, is the tedious menu. Mother does her best by making Emily give us every variation on peas that ever was heard of; one day we have pea soup, another, pea croquettes, then baked peas and ham, and so on, through the whole gamut, but alas! they are cornfield peas still, and often not enough of even them. Sorghum molasses is all the sweetening we have, and if it were not for the nice home-made butter and milk, and father’s fine old Catawba wine and brandy, there would be literally nothing to redeem the family larder from bankruptcy.” 

~Quotes curtesy of The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl

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