The Daily Lives of Confederate Soldiers vs. Union Soldiers During the Civil War

The Union maintained a better supply chain to its troops using rail and naval vessels, and the Union army was better fed as a result. Library of Congress

2. The Union troops’ daily bread was hardtack

Soldiers in the Union Army were allotted three quarters of a pound ofsalt pork or a pound of salt beef daily. When fresh beef was available a larger portion was had. Most often the meat was salt preserved, and when the army was on the march during a campaign it  always was. In camp they sometimes received fresh meat, including lamb. For bread they were issued 22 ounces per day, usually in the form of a hard, dry cracker known as hardtack. The bread was so hard that the troops often had to soften it by soaking it in their coffee or water in order to chew it. Those with bad teeth, a common complaint in that era of primitive dentistry, often had to do without any bread at all. Freshly baked bread in loaves was only available in long term encampments.