Pigs, Dogs, Cats, Horses, and Rats Help Win the Civil War

The Civil War intensified pork production as firms strove to meet the needs of the war effort. Beef packing also increased dramatically during the war, but dwindled after it ended, as cities like Kansas City that were closer to the centers of cattle farmers began to dominate production. As plants grew, the operations became more mechanized & specialized. The introduction of the refrigerated rail car in 1869 dramatically bolstered the industry, allowing it to become a year-round industry and to expand internationally (Dictionary of Wisconsin History, 2013).

The North had a greater advantage than the South in that their commissary system was already established at the outbreak of the war, while the Confederacy struggled for many years to obtain food and then get it to its armies. By the end of the war, many soldiers in the Confederate army were on the verge of starvation. During the Civil War There were plenty of other Civil War food options on a soldier’s menu (The American Civil War, 2013). The salt pork that was given to the soldiers during the war was a stinky kind of blue extra-salty meat, with hair, skin, dirt, and other debris on it.

It was, however, their main supply of protein. Salt beef was basically all of the very worst parts of a cow, including organs, necks, and shanks. But the basic meat was pork. When in enemy territory, the soldiers frequently helped themselves to chickens, fruits, vegetables, and other items from local farms and households. However, “During the final months of the war, more than a few horses, mules, dogs, cats, and even rats were eaten by soldiers,” said a Confederate doctor (Civil War Food, 2013).

Rats especially were found to be quite a luxury: …superior, in the opinion of those who eat them, to spring chicken…and there were few among the garrison whose natural prejudices were so strong as to prevent them from cooking and eating their share. Nor did rats appear on the starvation menus of only besieged Confederates. In the winter of 1862-63 in Virginia, [Union soldier Berry] Benson and others on picket found many rats, and they teased each other about trying them. Soon someone killed a few and roasted them. They found that they tasted rather like a squirrel. If that time were back, I don’t think I would not be squeamish,’ Benson said later. ’ (Davis, 2003, p. 24) After the Civil War The market for Texas cattle diminished after the Civil War & ranchers were left holding several million heads of cattle. Ranchers began to drive their cattle north again in 1866, but with little financial gain. Fortunately for the cattlemen, the close of the Civil War also marked a major transition in U. S. meat-consumption patterns. A national preference for pork abruptly gave way to beef.

Cattle worth $4 a head in Texas might be sold at $40 a head in Missouri or Kansas. In addition, a ready workforce was already in place: the de-commissioned horsemen of the Confederate cavalry plus freed ex-slaves and Mexican gauchos combined to provide a ready supply of skilled horsemen. Soon others saw the wild Texas herds as a ready means to tap into the lucrative northern market with little start–up capital. The famous Chisholm Trail became a major route. The trail was established in 1865 by Jesse Chisholm and ran 600 miles from San Antonio, Texas, to Abilene, Kansas.

Typically rivers and Indian lands had to be crossed, but good grazing, relatively level terrain, and higher prices waiting at the destination made the hazards worthwhile. Drives were cost-effective too—a drive of 2,000 or more cattle usually required only a trail boss and a dozen cowhands. In 1867, the Goodnight-Loving Trail opened markets for Texas cattle in Colorado & New Mexico. Cattle ranching had become big business and attracted Eastern investors. In 1869, more than 350,000 head of cattle were driven along the Chisholm Trail. By 1871, more than 700,000 head were driven along the route.

The Reconstruction Period The post-war Reconstruction period was difficult and would have been different in at least two ways if President Lincoln had not been assassinated. First, Lincoln would have been more generous in providing government aid to the fallen South. Instead, President Andrew Johnson punished the South. Moreover, if Lincoln had been the post-war president, it is likely that there would have been a lot less racism and he might have even prevented racist and white-supremacists like the KKK and other groups (Nicely, 2011).

Second, the death of Abraham Lincoln changed all the plans by which a Southern state could be readmitted into the Union. Lincoln wanted to reunite the Union quickly by showing forgiveness. Most of the moderate Republicans in Congress supported his plan because they thought it would make a more immediate end to the war. Reconstruction would have gone much more smoothly if Lincoln had not been assassinated (Nicely, 2011). Industrialization and urbanization during Reconstruction brought many changes to the social, economical and political lives of the people.

Industrialization led to mass production of goods with technological advances which led to cheaper products and better living conditions for the average American. With the improvement of living conditions, came the need of more workers at the factories. This need led to the migration of people to rural areas to the cities. The migration of the people to the cities and the addition of more and more factories lead to harmful contaminants in the environment such as water and air pollution. We also had the distinction of social classes given the wealth differences among the business entrepreneurs and factory workers.

There was also a change in the family structure. Men and women who worked in the same factory performing the same task were paid differently. This structure established what we know today as having the man be the “breadwinner” and the woman encouraged to stay at home with the children. At this point, children were seen as low-cost labor. Race Relations The federal and/or state courts and legislatures handed down decisions or passed laws during the period that served to discriminate against non-white citizens and immigrants in many ways.

The Black Codes were enacted in the South to regulate the status and conduct of the newly freed slaves. This deprived black people of many rights given only to whites such as owning property, to testify in court with whites, to make contracts, travel, preach, speak, and many more. Also contrary to expectations of the Bill of Rights, the court also held that because the amendment provided that “no state shall” deprive persons of the rights its guaranteed, Congressional legislation protecting blacks and Republicans from Ku Klux Klan violence exceeded the power of the federal government.

References Civil War Food (2013). Retrieved from http://www. civilwaracademy. com/civil-war-food. html). Davis, W. C. (2003). A Taste for War: The Culinary History of the Blue and the Gray. Stackpole Books. Mechanicsburg, PA. Dictionary of Wisconsin History (2013). Retrieved from http://www. wisconsinhistory. org /dictionary/index. asp? action=view&term_id=10802&term_type_id=3&term_type_text=things&letter=M) Gale Encyclopedia of U. S. Economic History (1999). Retrieved from http://www. ncyclopedia. com/topic/Cattle_drives. aspx Mitchell, P. B. (2013), “Cooking for the cause. ” Retrieved from http://www. civilwar. org/education/pdfs/civil-war-curriculum-food. pdf Nicely, B. J. (2011). What IF #5—How would have Reconstruction been different if Lincoln had not died on April 15, 1865? Retrieved from http://deeprunwildcats. org/nicely/? p=631 The American Civil War (2013). Retrieved from http://www. ducksters. com/history/civil_war/ life_as_asoldier_during_the_civil_war. php

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