Hard Tack and Coffee

This is a book by John D. Billings of the 10th Massachusetts Volunteer Artillery Battery with numerous pen and ink illustrations from Charles W. Reed, who was the bugler of the 9th Massachusetts Battery. You can download and read the book for free herehere, and here.

This book is an outstanding resource for those who want to know more about the common soldier’s life in the Civil War. It’s a true gold mine of information. Billings delivers what Carlton McCarthy only promised in his book, Detailed Minutiae of Soldier Life.

In his 21 chapters he covers such topics as how men were mustered into the army, the types of tents, making fireplaces, life in tents and log huts, rations, offenses and punishments, bugle calls, foraging, army mules, hospitals, corps badges, marching, wagon trains, engineers, and signaling.

This book is really indispensable for anyone who wants to have an inside view on what it was like to be a common soldier in the Army of the Potomac. He doesn’t describe battles, and you won’t find thumbnail sketches of and opinions about the various generals in the army, but he describes everyday life and how the soldiers lived. I highly recommend it. It’s a real pleasure to read.

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One comment

  1. Bob Nelson · · Reply

    Great book for sure. Read it twenty years ago.

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