Events: Taste Civil War Navy Rations

I’m going to be in McGolrick Park in Greenpoint from 1-4 today as part of an event commemorating the building of the Monitor, the infamous iron-clad ship of the Civil War.  I’ll be giving a talk around 3;30 about the spice trade in Greenpoint, but throughout the day I’ll be passing out samples of Civil War Navy rations.  The rations, which were quite a bit better than what was handed out to the Army:

“One pound of salt pork, with half a pint of beans or peas; one pound salt beef, with half a pound of flour, and two ounces of dried apples or other fruit; or three quarters of preserved (canned) meat, with half a pound of rice, two ounces of butter, and one ounce desiccated (dehydrated) mixed vegetables; or three quarters pound preserved meat, two ounces of butter, and two ounces desiccated potato; together with fourteen ounces of biscuits (hardtack), one quarter of an ounce of tea, or one ounce of coffee or cocoa, two ounces sugar, and a gill (four ounces) or spirits; and a weekly allowance of half a pound of pickles, half a pint of molasses, and half a pint of vinegar.” (source)

This diet was supplemented by deliveries of fresh meat and veg when in port; and by “foraging” (stealing from Southern farms).  Also available were some canned food brands we know today: Vancamp Pork & Beans; Underwood Deviled Ham; and Borden’s Condensed Milk.

Stop by and give this food a try! Full details below.


Saturday, October 22nd

Greenpoint 1861
1pm-4pm @ McGolrick Park, Greenpoint, Brooklyn

On October 25, 1861 the keel of the USS Monitor was laid. Come and celebrate the 150th anniversary of the USS Monitor and the workers who built Greenpoint and worked in the shipbuilding industry. The Diggers will recreate Greenpoint circa 1861 for a one day festival that imagines North Brooklyn when it was the center of national trade and shipbuilding. The event will include:

-A near lifesize model of the Monitor made out of papermache by Jason Gaspar
-Historic food that would have been Greenpoint staples by Sarah Lohman from as well as a talk on culinary developments & the spice trade in Greenpoint
-Knot tying demonstration & workshop by Peter Haakon Thompson
-Talk on Alfred and Carnes Eddey, shipwrights in Greenpoint, by their descendant Gary E Eddey
-1860s music by the Depressionaires
-Historic costuming by Melissa Estro and a chance to actually “Walk in the shoes” of 1860s Greenpointers
-Mini pop up museum with educators


2 thoughts on “Events: Taste Civil War Navy Rations

  1. the last cook on the USS Monitor before it went down was David Cuddeback form Milford PA; hence a distant relative of mine. as a family researcher i would be interested in finding out what types of foods he prepared.

    • That is so cool!! Thank you for sharing- other than the above, I don’t know of anything specfically served on the Moniter. But by looking at the rations, and look at 1860s era cookbooks, it would give you a good idea of the types of food he could be making.

      I’ve never come across any sort of guide for army or navy cooks of the civil war, but I’d love to find one if it exists.

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