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Yanks, Rebels, Rats & Rations Scratching for Food in Civil War Prison Camps

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A perennial favorite among male history buffs, Yanks, Rebels, Rats & Rations gives graphic descriptions of life in Civil War prison camps, North and South. (An extensive listing of military prisons is given.) From Johnson's Island to Andersonville, and points between, actual accounts written by Civil War soldiers paint the grim picture of imprisonment. Bad sanitation and bad food were two of the worst indignations (and killers). As a detainee at Morris Island wrote,

“Our rations consisted of ten ounces of hard tack, full of worms, two ounces of salt beef, half a pint of beef soup, and half a pint of bottled rice. At one time our bread ration was cut off, and half a pint of mush, made of spoiled corn-meal, substituted. One of the men on one occasion picked one hundred and fifty worms out of three rations of this meal.”

All was not glum, though. Some soldiers received food from the outside world, and some learned to cook their captors' pets.