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Hard Tack and Coffee: Soldier's Life in…

Hard Tack and Coffee: Soldier's Life in the Civil War (original 1887; edition 2007)

by John D. Billings, Charles W. Reed (Illustrator)

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Title:Hard Tack and Coffee: Soldier's Life in the Civil War
Authors:John D. Billings
Other authors:Charles W. Reed (Illustrator)
Info:JG Press (2007), Hardcover, 408 pages
Collections:Your library

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Hardtack and Coffee: The Unwritten Story of Army Life by John D. Billings (1887)


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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
An excellent overview of just about every aspect of the war from the enlisted man's point of view, from recruitment, to life in winter camp, to picket duty, to drawing pay and clothing, to foraging, to burying men and horses and digging latrines. John Billings gives a very thorough account, elucidated with fascinating anecdotes of his own history as an Massachusetts artilleryman in the war. ( )
  DCBlack | Jun 21, 2016 |
Originally published in 1888, this first-person account of everyday life for the foot soldier during the Civil War became an immediate bestseller ( )
  MarkBeronte | Mar 4, 2014 |
Hardtack and Coffee is one of my go to reference books in my Civil War library. It explains every facet of a Civil War soldier's life from entertainment in camp to discipline. This book is a must have for every Civil War historian and historical fiction writer. ( )
  HaleyWhitehall | Nov 17, 2012 |
  JohnMeeks | May 16, 2009 |
[ Hard Tack and Coffee] by John D. Billings - A great little book wrote by and illustrated by two Civil War veterans in the 1880's. It tells about the life of the everyday soldier. It is arranged by chapters on all topics of army life, covering enlistments, food, mules, living conditions etc.. Full of anecdotal and humorous descriptions of these topics. A must for any Civil War Reenactors or Civil War buff. ( )
  usnmm2 | Apr 13, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John D. Billingsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Reed, Charles W.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shea, William L.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my comrades of the Army of the Potomac who, it is believed, will find rehearsed in these pages much that has not before appeared in print, and which it is hoped will secure to their children in permanent form valuable information about a soldier’s life in detail that has thus far been only partially written, this work is most affectionately dedicated by their friend, The Author.
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On the 6th of November, 1860, Abraham Lincoln, the candidate of the Republican party, was elected President of the United States, over three opponents.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
One of the most important memoirs of the American Civil War, this is also one of the few to describe what life was really like for the common soldier. The author, a Union veteran of the Army of the Potomac, tells of how the men enlisted or were conscripted; how they lived in camp and on the march; what they ate and foraged; how they were equipped and provided for; how they lived, amused themselves, were disciplined and punished, cared for and healed, and ultimately how they died. Written with a wry and gentle sense of humor, and profusely illustrated with pen-and-ink drawings, this book is full of the anecdotes and trivia that made it a best-seller in its day, and a primary source for life in the Civil War ever since. This ebook edition includes all 234 drawings from the first edition.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 080326111X, Paperback)

Most histories of the Civil War focus on battles and top brass. Hardtack and Coffee is one of the few to give a vivid, detailed picture of what ordinary soldiers endured every day—in camp, on the march, at the edge of a booming, smoking hell. John D. Billings of Massachusetts enlisted in the Army of the Potomac and curvived the conditions he recorded. The authenticity of his book is heightened by the many drawings that a comrade, Charles W. Reed, made in the field.
This is the story of how the Civil War soldier was recruited, provisioned, and disciplined. Described here are the types of men found in any outfit; their not very uniform uniforms; crowded tents and makeshift shelters; difficulties in keeping clean, warm, and dry; their pleasure in a cup of coffee; food rations, dominated by salt pork and the versatile cracker or hardtack; their brave pastimes in the face of death; punishments for various offenses; treatment in sick bay; firearms and signals and modes of transportation. Comprehensive and anecdotal, Hardtack and Coffee is striking for the pulse of life that runs through it.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:13 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Throughout history, from antiquity to the present, service in the armed forces of one's country has provided an almost endless source of material to entertain and even enlighten listeners. Military life has usually been a unique and peculiar experience for most civilians exposed to it. Originally published in 1888, Hard Tack and Coffee is the fascinating account of the everyday life of a footsoldier in the U.S. Army of one hundred years ago. John Billings describes all aspects of a soldier's life, including living quarters, foraging, wagon trains, offenses and punishments, equipment, transportation, food, hospitals, and much more. This is a detailed, comprehensive, and highly absorbing resource on the common soldier's life in the Civil War army.… (more)

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