Hardtack & Bacon

Hardtack is a biscuit made from water, flour, and sometimes salt. It was a staple of the Civil War soldier’s diet. Illustration of Soldier Frying Hardtack, from Hardtack and Coffee: Or, The Unwritten Story of Army Life. Boston: George M. Smith & Co., 1887

After the Battle of Stone’s River, the 13th Michigan was moved to the nearby town of Murfreesburo. It would spend several months there, improving the fortifications before moving elsewhere, although as Harrison describes, skirmishes between the two armies continued.

Harrison writes at the end of January to assure his family that he is well although Uncle Joseph is still in a hospital. He complains again that he has not heard from home in a long time. He does complain, as soldiers often did, about the food which was primarily hardtack (a type of hard, dry biscuit) and bacon. They tried to supplement their diet with anything they could forage in the vicinity. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that he again asks about what his family had for Christmas and New Year’s dinner.

After two years of service, Harrison and his comrades are starting to feel somewhat depressed, hoping that someday things might get better but, for now, they seem darker. He closes by asking for news of home, news about the war and the draft, as well as a report on the money he has been sending home.


     Camp near Murfreesburo Tenneesse
                Friday January the/30 1863

                                                                                                Dear Sister & friends

being blest with the present opertunity thought i would scrible you afew lines to let you no that i am well & hope these few lines will find you all the same not hearing from home in a long time not noing the reason i have written 2 or 3 letters sence the Battle of Murfreesboro & have not heard one word from home but hopin[g] this may reach you not having much time to write you must excuse all mustaks i have not much news at present Unkle Joseph was Wonded in the knee & is at the hospital i heard from him the other day the Rebels took 35 Wagons from us the other day & about 200 Prisoners Alvin Holems is well & sends his respects to all our Regiment is small only about 150 men in it we have only 8 men in our Company i enjoy as good health as ever … we dont hear aney news when you write tell me all about Drafting and all the news & what kind of a time you all had New year & Christmas we had a pretty hard time New year we was in the Battle Christmas we went after forage i would like to have bin thare and had some thing good to eat for i am sick of such living nothing but heard tacks & bacon as we call it  it is the same thing over & over the Soldiers have stood it pretty well thinking that some day they mite see better times but it lookes darker & darker every day so i must bring this to a close for i have not eney more time give my respects to all & tell them to write So Good Bey for this time tell Father to write all the news about the War & all about my money So Good Bey

                This is from Tip
Derect to the same place

Harrison Dewaters

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