Hardtack & Matzah

UnknownMy Spring Break starts today. It isn’t politically correct to say “Easter” any more, so “Spring” will have to suffice.

I thought a short column on Easter and the Civil War might be interesting, but it turns out Easter was not celebrated as a holiday much until after 1865. Passover, however, was.

RosecranslgThe Jewish men of the 23rd Ohio, stationed at Sewell Mountain, WV in the spring of 1862, decided that they would have a Seder, or Passover supper to celebrate their tradition. Nineteen-year old Private J. A. Joel was the leader of this commemoration, but even at so young an age, he had learned enough about soldiering to know that he ought to ask permission of General William Rosecrans, his commanding officer, before going much further with his planning.

Rosecrans gave the idea his go-ahead. Joel and about twenty other participants somehow talked a sutler into seven barrels of flour for matzah. Now, matzah is unleavened bread, and was the main food staple of a group of people moving from one part of the country to another, under a command structure that wanted things done quickly–much like a Civil War army.

Hardtack, unleavened bread, served the exact same purpose for the exact same reasons.


I gotta say, matzah as the food staple of the Union Army is quite a concept.



3 Responses to Hardtack & Matzah

  1. Wow – amazing! I’d love to hear more about the Passover supper in 1862. Religion during the Civil War is definitely a topic of never-ending surprises and many positive stories (in my humble opinion). 🙂

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