Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Hardtack and Coffee

"Hardtack and Coffee"... 6x8" Oil on panel, alla prima from life, 11-2007.

SOLD... Thanks Randy B.!

Click image for larger view...

Hardtack, salt pork, and coffee were the staple rations for the American soldier... both Union and Confederate... during the Civil War. In fact, hard crackers have been issued as rations in every American conflict. During the American Civil War a soldier was rationed ten of these hard crackers per day... or at least was supposed to be. The official name for the cracker was "hardtack" but it had numerous nicknames like, "nail-benders", "worm-castles", and "teeth-dullers". Often they were issued molded and infested with worms and weevils. The most common way soldiers prepared them to eat was to boil them in a tin cup of coffee... this served two purposes... #1)... it softened them up... and #2)... it killed whatever was living in them. The worms would float to the top of the coffee and could easily be skimmed away. I set up this small still life on an old wooden table and painted it from life while at a Civil War Reenactment last weekend. The reenactment was held at Fort Branch near Hamilton, North Carolina. Reenacting is a hobby of mine and I portray an 1860's period civilian usually taking my French easel, brushes, and oils to plein air paint. I had a great time last weekend camping and painting with friends and family... sorry I don't have a photo in my period attire to share... I forgot the camera... maybe next time.

Here is a verse from a song that was sung by the civil war soldier whose title remains unknown, but with a message that is very clear:

There's a hungry, thirsty soldier Who wears his life away,

With torn clothes, whose better days are o'er

He is sighing now for whiskey And, with throat as dry as hay,

Sings, "Hard crackers, hard crackers, Come again no more."

As the war progressed and hunger became an issue the last verse of the song went like this:

"It is the dying wail of the starving,

Hard crackers, hard crackers, come again once more;

You were old and very wormy, but we pass your failings o'er,

O hard crackers, come again once more."

80 8099 6/3/105


Gaye Sekula said...

I have noticed your work on I love your blog. I can almost hear a southern to my ears!

Bernie Rosage Jr. said...

Thanks so much Gaye... go to and click on the video link in the sidebar... you'll hear that soutern accent in all it's glory... ;)

Thanks for dropping by...