Josiah, like his brother Jonathan, is a bit of a US history buff. Here is a sampling of his self-selected pleasure reading for the past couple of weeks:
Just a few tidbits, I'm sure recognizable to most of my readers. The Genevieve Fosters are old favorites he likes to re-read periodically, preferably the whole series in order. We have a couple of the History of US books picked up at book sales, and they make for quick and entertaining breakfast reading. The old American Junior Heritage Libraryseries are also favorites for straightforward coverage of a variety of history topics.
But the book at the top of the pile is a new favorite. Somehow this classic had escaped our radar during all those years when the boys were obsessed with the Civil War. When we were visiting Nana last week I saw it on her kitchen book stack and the simple title caught my eye. I pulled it off the shelf and showed it to Josiah, who dove right in. Nana kindly gave Josiah the book, so he has been re-reading and savoring favorite parts.
Written in 1888, Hardtack and Coffee is the first person account of a Union soldier's daily life in camp. The text is liberally sprinkled with informative and entertaining pen and ink drawings from another member of the Army of the Potomac. Covered are such interesting topics as enlisting and recruits, tent living and army rations, recreation and daily life. Probably not suitable for younger readers, it does include such unpleasantries such as how deserters and spies were dealt with. But it is a truthful tell-all and tell-it -like-it-is tome of tantalizing tidbits of knowledge. You will learn really useful information such as:
It was no uncommon occurrence for a man to find the surface of his pot of coffee swimming with weevils, after breaking up hardtack in it, which had come out of the fragments only to drown; but they were easily skimmed off, and left no distinctive flavor behind.
Isn't that nice to know- no distinctive flavor left behind!
Or perhaps some of you could more easily relate to this:
How often, after being completely jaded by a night march, - and this is an experience common to thousands, - have I had a wash, if there was water to be had, made and drunk my pint or so of coffee, and felt as fresh and invigorated as if just arisen from a night's sound sleep!
Find recipes for hardtack here. Jonathan made a handy hardtack poker, though Josiah hotly disputed the placement of the nails. Proper hardtack is perfectly square so it can be neatly stacked in wooden boxes for storage, and the piercings should be uniformly spaced.
I will close with the classic hardtack joke-
A soldier complains to his comrade, There's something soft in my hardtack!
Ugh, is it a worm?
No! It's a nail!
Disclaimer - neither the writer of this blog nor any of her associates will in any way be held responsible for dental damage incurred from the consumption of insufficiently dunked hardtack. Choking hazard - keep out of reach of small children. I'm sure the orthodontist would forbid it as well!