Time and again during my research I have come across references to “rations,” and the insufficiency of them, difficulty finding and receiving them, etc. This naturally enough led me to question what exactly a ration is. The following description is the Ebensburg, Pennsylvania newspaper The Alleghanian in the May 16, 1861 issue:

“What is a Ration?

For the information of numerous inquirers, we give the following list of articles constituting a ration from the army regulations:
20 oz. Fresh and Salt beef or 12 oz. Pork
18 oz. Soft Bread or Flour, or 12 oz. Hard Bread
2 2/3 oz. Beans or 1 3/5 oz. Rice
1 5/6 oz. Sugar
1 oz. Coffee, ground
¼ oz. Candies
2/3 oz. Soap
½ oz. Salt

This must answer for the subsistence of a soldier during the day and properly husbanded, it is enough.”

Soldiers of different ranks received differing amounts of pay for obtaining their rations when not available (while travelling, for instance), but a ration was the same for private or colonel.

This may help bring home what all was involved when one reads accounts of being ordered to prepare 3 days of rations and march immediately to somewhere, as this went into the same haversack with the spare uniforms and other gear.

Advertisements