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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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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:04:47 -0400)
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.
(summary from another edition)
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