By Katie Graham
This biscuit, more formally known as a hardtack, dates back over 150 years to the Civil War. This was the preferred food for soldiers both in the Confederacy and Union because of its longevity and convenience in times of extensive travel with little time or means to prepare proper meals. For any Civil War buffs looking to host a reenactment, here is a link for a standard recipe for hardtack biscuits: http://www.arhistoryhub.com/civil-war-make-your-own-hardtack-and-johnny-cake/#
Hardtack was often prepared six months ahead of time and would usually become infested with maggots. Soldiers would often scrape any inedible elements like mold or larvae off the hardtack and use the remaining pieces to crumble into their coffee. If they were fortunate enough to have procured animal fat, they would make their meal less bland and fry their hardtack. Unless a soldier was able to hunt or befriend a sympathetic local willing to provide food, this travelers’ bread was all on which they had to rely for nutrition.
Our once bitten biscuit belonged to William Henry Dill Blake, who enlisted in Company C of the 56th New York Veteran Volunteer Infantry on December 31, 1863. Blake survived the war and was honorably discharged at the rank of Second Lieutenant on November 10th of 1865.
In 1867 Blake accepted a position with the Newburgh & Albany Steamboat Line under Homer Ramsdell & Co. and remained employed there for seven years before he purchased 250 acres of farmland and settled into his new home in New Paltz in 1881. Prior to his move, he married Miss Matilda R. Booth, daughter of Alfred Booth, owner of a prominent English merchant company founded in 1866 and dissolved in 1986. William Blake was grandson of Congressman John Blake Jr. of the Orange County District who served between 1805 and 1809. Prior to this position, our subject’s grandfather was Sheriff of Ulster County during the absence of incumbent Benjamin Sears.
“The History of Ulster County, New York, VOLUME 2 ONLY.”
Google Books. Ed. Alphonso T. Clearwater. Heritage Books, Web. 22 July 2014.
Try to guess Rachel’s object of choice for next week from the photo below: