Hardtack. For years after the Civil War, the mere
mention of it would cause veteran soldiers to shake their heads
with disgust. These flour and water biscuits were a half-inch thick
and baked to withstand months on the march. They were so hard and
tasteless that they earned nicknames such as "teeth dullers"
and "sheet iron crackers."
Soldiers often soaked the hardtack in coffee or soup to soften
it, but unfortunately this also had the effect of loosening worms
and weevils that infested the biscuits. One soldier counted thirty-two
worms in a single cracker. The hungry men, however, were surprisingly
tolerant of finding creatures in their food. As another soldier
described, "It was no uncommon occurrence for a man to find
the surface of his pot of coffee swimming with weevils after breaking
hardtack in it . . . but they were easily skimmed off and left
no distinctive flavor behind."
Use one part water to six parts flour. Mix and knead.
Roll dough flat and score into cracker shapes. Bake 20-25
minutes and cool off until completely dry before storing
in canisters. The crackers should be hard as bricks and
indestructibly unappetizing. If not consumed by hungry
soldiers, the crackers might last at least until the lord