Food - Drink
The Canned Rations Fed To Soldiers During The Civil War
Per NPR, a significant imbalance in available rations was critical to The Union’s victory in the American Civil War, as Union blockades created massive food shortages for the Confederacy. However, Civil War soldiers fared better than veterans of past wars due to a new technology French inventor Nicolas Appert invented in 1809 — canning.
Canning permanently changed warfare by providing a more reliable way of preserving food, and one of the most notable canned goods to emerge from the Civil War was condensed milk. Patented by Connecticut’s Dr. Gail Borden in 1853, condensed milk was so valued by soldiers, Borden had to sell licenses to other dairy companies to keep up with demand.
The conflict also popularized other canned goods, such as canned beef from Chicago and Gilbert Van Camp’s canned fruits, vegetables, and pork and beans from Indianapolis, both of whom secured lucrative contracts to supply food for the Union Army. Today, Van Camp’s Pork and Beans and Borden’s Borden Dairy are still going strong.