Skip to comments.How Coffee Fueled the Civil War
Posted on 07/12/2014 6:45:01 AM PDT by NKP_Vet
It was the greatest coffee run in American history. The Ohio boys had been fighting since morning, trapped in the raging battle of Antietam, in September 1862. Suddenly, a 19-year-old William McKinley appeared, under heavy fire, hauling vats of hot coffee. The men held out tin cups, gulped the brew and started firing again. It was like putting a new regiment in the fight, their officer recalled. Three decades later, McKinley ran for president in part on this singular act of caffeinated heroism.
At the time, no one found McKinleys act all that strange. For Union soldiers, and the lucky Confederates who could scrounge some, coffee fueled the war. Soldiers drank it before marches, after marches, on patrol, during combat. In their diaries, coffee appears more frequently than the words rifle, cannon or bullet. Ragged veterans and tired nurses agreed with one diarist: Nobody can soldier without coffee.
(Excerpt) Read more at opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com ...
I always thought it was corn liquor.
“I can remember going to work in a little quonset hut on the flightline in Korea 45 years ago. Since I was the lowest man on the totem pole it was my job to turn on the heat and to make the coffee in a big ole 100 cup perculator. I caught hell if the coffee was not ready by the time the captain walked in the door. I can still see him raising hell if I told him it had 5 more minutes to brew.”
Crew Chiefs live off of coffee, even the ones who have converted to energy drinks. On my first trip to Afghanistan we managed to score a Kureg and had several people donate k-cups to us. Something I believe is worth a try, break up and dissolve some Lemon Head candies into a cup of black coffee. Yum.
I didn’t learn until a few years ago that the lightest coffee has the most caffeine... roasting the beans dark destroys caffeine. That’s why europeans drink the dark stuff all day.. less caffeine.
I’ve always read about Louisiana folks using chicory as a coffee substitute.... does it taste like it? Buzz like it?
Great story - well worth reading at the link.
Great post. Thanks.
Some people got hooked on the chickory. They still sell coffee with chickory in New Orleans coffeehouses, like Cafe du Monde. Personally, I think it tastes like pee.
The South turned to chicory because the Northern blockade cut off the coffee imports. Of the leading 4 chicory coffee companies that survive today, three are in Louisiana and one is in tidewater Virginia. But the U.S. chicory industry making the ingredient was destroyed by a Frenchman who set out to and did monopolize this narrow international market. He did so with assistance from young federal bureaucrats who, like so many of the young, decided to take the anti-American side. I know because one of them apologized to me later for it. I was one of the counsel trying to save the last American chicory company. Incidentally, chicory is used by makers of health food teas who believe that it has beneficial effects, although they are a small part of the market.
My daddy loved this stuff. I always thought it tasted like kerosene.
There’s a chicory/coffee blend I can buy (Eight O’Clock?) but
never have, I don’t take risks with coffee, I need it to get
me up and out.
For me, it was that pot of chicory coffee that really helped me to understand and appreciate the difference between "edible" and "palatable."
Is there caffeine in chicory? That might explain its use in a pinch...
Thanks NKP_Vet. If you wanna get down, down on the ground, caffeine.
That was the Battle of Branson Bridge. GB&U reference.
I always thought it was goober peas.
Coffee imports had became impossible by 1916. The scant stores on hand had been stretched and extenuated by the use of chicory and other supplements. A transition from coffee to coffee substitute began. The first substitute, Kaffee-ersatz, was not a bad one. It was mostly made of roasted barley and oats and the flavor was enhanced by chemicals from coal-tar. The brew had a good percentage of nutritive elements, no caffeine and was quite palatable when taken with milk and sugar--without sugar though, it was impossible. But the grain could be put to better purpose and so this led to the introduction of the substitute of a substitute. Kaffee-ersatz-ersatz was made of roasted acorns and beechnuts, with just enough roasted barley to build up a coffee flavor. It was said to be better than the first substitute but was also more expensive. Unfortunately, there weren?t enough acorns and beechnuts, much of which was being fed to pigs. Before long the excellent acorn-beechnut coffee disappeared to be replaced by a third substitute whose original ingredients were carrots and yellow turnips. A substitute for tea was not difficult. The bloom of the linden tree mixed with beech buds and a few tips of pine made an excellent "oolong." A cocoa substitute came from coal-tar and chemistry along with roasted peas and oats. Source
I believe I can answer that question. I drink a pot of Cafe du Monde coffee every morning. I buy it by the case directly from Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. I get 8-9 pots per 14oz. can but then I like it strong. I think it moderates some of the bitterness of coffee. I particularly like it as Iced Coffee.
Chicory was originally used as a coffee extender and then a coffee substitute. Other things such as toasted hickory nuts and even acorns were used as coffee became scarcer and scarcer.
Garde la Foi, mes amis! Nous nous sommes les sauveurs de la République! Maintenant et Toujours!
(Keep the Faith, my friends! We are the saviors of the Republic! Now and Forever!)
LonePalm, le Républicain du verre cassé (The Broken Glass Republican)
I didn’t do it!
No can fumction withowt coffee!
Available as an IV drip i understand. :)
Only for the first hour. After that, I’m fueled and ready too go!
How are you, this fine evening, Moosie?
It’s been 30 years or better since I left New Orleans and I can still recall the smell of chicory coffee brewing. I hated the stuff!
But is there *caffeine* in it?
One summer I worked in Montana on a temporary job, with a crew from various parts of the country. One fellow was from Louisiana and he brought his own coffee with him; it was something that apparently is only sold in south Louisiana (it did not contain chicory, btw). He drank it all day long, kept one of those mugs (that looks like an upside-down funnel) on the dash of his pickup....along with a bottle of Mylanta. He’d take a sip of coffee and a sip of mylanta all day long. One day he convinced me to try some of his coffee and that stuff was like battery acid. I can’t imagine how he had any lining left in his esophagus after drinking that foul brew.
Unrelated: I took up SanPelligrino Citrus Sparkling water cans a few weeks ago (trying to kick my Coke habit), and had my first 8oz Coke today, it felt like fire burning all the way down.
This from a 40-yr Coke drinker.
I bought my wife a tee shirt that reads: "Instant human. Just add coffee." She is a real coffeeholic, and has turned me into one.
They used to sell coffee with chicory here in Mississippi, but I have not seen it on the shelves in a long time. It tastes like real bad coffee that has brewed too long.
I’m definitely not a chicory expert but my web searches say no - no caffeine.
Every time I drank chicory coffee I got the shits. The same with barley coffee.
Coffee was the impetus behind the whole scientific & intellectual revolutions of the past 3 centuries. The coffeehouses were powerhouses where ideas were exchanged by caffeinated men.
(I love the stuff — can’t start my day without it.)
“I love the stuff cant start my day without it”.
Same here and the stronger the better. I wake up at 4 AM and drink coffee till about 9 AM. How many cups this is, I don’t keep track. I don’t drink it during the day or at night. Both my parents would. My old man drank coffee at every meal, black, and would drink it all day if he could. My mother had a funny little habit of drinking coffee when she ate fish. The rest of us drank iced tea but she had to have coffee with her fish.
The inscription reads: "Sergeant McKinley Co. E. 23rd Ohio Vol. Infantry, while in charge of the Commissary Department, on the afternoon of the day of the battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862, personally and without orders served "hot coffee" and "warm food" to every man in the Regiment, on this spot and in doing so had to pass under fire."
Since this was the bloodiest day in American military history, it was quite something for a man safely in the trains to go up to the fighting on his own initiative. He didn't get a medal, but did get a battlefield commission.
Would love to one day visit the battlefield.
GG Grandson of Duncan Black
15 NC Infantry
1843 to 1921
Serving food and drink while under fire is not everyone’s cu-, uh, never mind...
I have only one BIG cup of coffee per day.
Now, I'll top it off 5, 6, 12 times...but it's the same cup! :-P
I have been there four times, learn something new every time, and my family fought with Iowa and Illinois Regiments in the West.
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