The book I am reading is Civil War Medicine: Care & Comfort of the Wounded, by Robert E. Denney. Denny is a pretty interesting read, interspersing letters and official correspondence with a running commentary of the war. He is also a fan of Mary Ann Bickerdyke. I am quickly becoming a fan as well.
I am planning a wedding, set for July 4 of this year (Yikes!) It was pointed out to me very early on that I needed something called a “hydration station,” so people would not fall out and need to be carried to the rear by their friends for possible transport to a division hospital during my short morning wedding.
I am not a fan of those plastic bottles, so I did some research and came up with the idea of fruit infused water being available in large glass containers with spigots. No, this is not an original idea, but I thought it was a good answer to the problem nevertheless. Plus they are pretty cool looking.
Apparently fruit-infused water is nothing new. In July 1864, Major General William T. Sherman’s forces skirmished with those of Brigadier General Joseph E. Johnston at a place called Nickajack Creek near Atlanta, Georgia. Mrs. Bickerdyke was with Sherman, and had her capable hands full, as usual. She was running out of hospital tents.
Sherman sent to Nashville for more, and received several large tents once used for religious revival meetings. They held about one hundred beds, and the hospital encampment was soon being called Mother Bickerdyke’s “circus.”
Ms. Bickerdyke went along with the theme. She got lemons and lemon extract from the Sanitary Commission dispensary and made lemonade for “her boys.” Then she added raspberries and raspberry juice, creating fruit-infused deliciousness now called Raspberry Lemonade. It became so popular that it became standard fare at the hospital.
The recipe, according to http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/raspberry-lemonade-4, is simple:
1 C. rinsed fresh raspberries
2/3 C. sugar
1 C. lemon juice
2 C. water
In a small bowl, with a potato masher or spoon, mash 1 cup rinsed fresh raspberries (6 oz.) with 2/3 cup sugar. Let stand 10 minutes. Press through a fine strainer into a pitcher (at least 1 1/2 qt.); discard seeds. Stir in 1 cup lemon juice and 2 cups water. Taste and add more sugar if desired. Pour into tall, ice-filled glasses.
Rehydrate, and enjoy Mother Bickerdyke’s fruit-infused water at all your summer gatherings. Serve it at reenactments and know you are authentic! Its lovely red color will brighten 4th of July tables! Just remember, for a few seconds, how good it must have tasted to sick, wounded, even dying soldiers in July, 1864.
Perhaps we should serve it at the 2015 August 7-9 Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge? Hmmmmm.