Civil War Cookin’: What To Do With Leftovers (According To Major Pendleton)

civil-war-cookin-happy-thanksgivingIf you had a feast yesterday, there’s a good possibility you have left-overs today. You might not believe it, but I have a story about left-overs during the Civil War.

First, let’s clarify – there wasn’t a lot of extra food in the armies or on the Southern homefront. The phenomenon of left-overs likely didn’t occur often…but what if on that rare occasion a Confederate officer had food he didn’t want to eat, no comrades to share with, and didn’t want to waste the food.

Oh, it’s really quite simple. Feed the left-overs to your horse!

In February 1864, newly-wed officer Alexander “Sandie” Pendleton got a couple days leave to visit his bride, Kate Corbin Pendleton, at Moss Neck Plantation near Fredericksburg, Virginia. At some point during the visit, Kate showed off her meal planning skills, and they enjoyed a feast. We don’t know the complete menu, but there was turkey and biscuits, and probably anything else that had been salvaged, foraged, or saved for the occasion. A feast of any sort would be a treat in the Confederacy during that early winter of 1864. Hopeful that her officer would enjoy a good lunch or snack on his journey back to camp, Kate packed some left-overs.

Alexander "Sandie" Pendleton
Alexander “Sandie” Pendleton

After he returned to the military, Pendleton wrote his lady a conversational letter. And he revealed the fate of the left-overs.

Speaking of meals, I ate the snack you put up for me yesterday, at the Old Wilderness Tavern. You know how you scolded me because I would not take more turkey; well, I had more than I could get through with & gave half the biscuits to Laura [his horse] who enjoyed them so much that she wanted all. I could not persuade her to eat the breast of turkey however & I am rather inclined to think better of a horse’s judgment in consequence….[i]

Apparently, Major Pendleton wasn’t extremely fond of turkey – at least as left-overs.

Whether you enjoy your remaining Thanksgiving food or dispose of it creatively, I hope you had a wonderful holiday. And what a blessing to have extra food!

***A note to all horse owners: always use caution when feeding your horse anything other than their regular diet. ECW is not a veterinary group, and we don’t want any animals harmed because of our historical quotes and blog posts.

[i] W.G. Bean, Stonewall’s Man: Sandie Pendleton, page 189

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