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bob 125th nysvi
09-06-2006, 07:22 PM
Lets discuss something very simple for a change.

What do you eat with?

It seems the CW soldier had three options (I'm not counting the fourth, your fingers).

The folding set.

The slide together set.

Stuff stolen (sorry borrowed) from somebody's kitchen.

Which one is the most authentic (as in issued the most) for a real CW soldier and if you don't use that one why not?

Mundane yes but isn't it an item that is important to an accurate impression? After all "The devil is in the details."

Bob Sandusky
Co C 125th NYSVI
Esperance NY

NoahBriggs
09-06-2006, 07:35 PM
The Columbia Rifles Research Compendium has an article which discusses this very topic.

Coming soon . . .

Western Blue Belly
09-06-2006, 07:35 PM
okay, I'll "bite" on this one...

I use the issue slide together kind. Why? Because not many do. I have seen maybe 4 or so people use them in the 11 years I've been at this, but then again I dont pay much attention to a mans eating utensils.

Ken Zimmer
Western Blues Mess
17th Mo. Co. G

flattop32355
09-06-2006, 08:15 PM
I use a spoon and three prong fork. I used to carry a dinner knife, but have taken to using my pocket knife instead; one less thing to carry. Fork and spoon are in a cloth holder that stays in the bottom of the haversack, under the inner bag, until needed.

Jim Mayo
09-06-2006, 09:26 PM
I have found more spoons and pocket knives relic hunting than forks or the common type butter knife. Have never found a slide together fork and spoon but have found one of the folding type spoon, knife and fork combinations and it was in a CS trench.

I have also learned by experience that if you carry a fork, more than likely you will soon have a hole in whatever you are carrying it in. Any period type ration be it beans, rice or greasy corn meal mix can be eaten with a spoon.

Rob
09-06-2006, 11:07 PM
I used to use the knife/fork/spoon combination, but grew tired of its weight. (Apparently this was the opinion of many.)

Now I use a pocket knife, and a two-piece army spoon. One of the spoon's edges has been sharpened in case I run into a tough piece of meat or a burnt egg.

Also in my haversack resides a small corked bottle containing a 2:1 mix of salt and pepper.

GrumpyDave
09-07-2006, 06:13 AM
Tin spoon, fork, pocket knife, boiler. Sometimes I carry a frying pan(Mostly at LH's). I can cook over the fire with my rammer if I have to(or want to). And, there's no grease fire when you boil your bacon.

TimKindred
09-07-2006, 07:00 AM
Comrades,

I've also reduced my mess assemblege to a single spoon and my jack jnife. I went to a smaller cup as well, and use a coffee cooler from the WVM as a plate/bowl. I've got a real nice period fry pan that I bring about half the time, depending on the event and my personal load.

Interesting is that several accounts of initial issues to regiments from Maine only list cups and spoons, never any knives or forks.

Respects,

Ephraim_Zook
09-07-2006, 08:34 AM
I have also learned by experience that if you carry a fork, more than likely you will soon have a hole in whatever you are carrying it in.

Stick the fork into a cork. It eliminates holes in your bag, haversack, fingers, (or fanny if you inadvertantly sit on your haversack).

I took a spoon from home. My wife has written twice about a missing spoon; I never told her that I have it. It has a nice "Z" (for Zook, of course) embossed on the handle. I stole another spoon and a 3-tined fork from some secesh harridan's kitchen. And I have my pappy's folding knife. One of these days I'll spring for a nesting set.

One of the guys in the original 142d PV carried a folding combination fork and spoon. His g-g-grandson still has it.

AZReenactor
09-07-2006, 09:29 AM
The 1st California was ordered (http://www.californiacolumn.org/guidlines.htm)to carry a tin cup, fork, spoon, plate, and sheath knife in their march from Yuma through Tucson to Texas. However, in the continual trend towards lightening my burden I've pretty much taken to just carrying a spoon in my haversack and a knife on my belt. I find a knife generally makes a dandy fork while a spoon is good for both holding meat for cutting and getting every last bit of food and broth.

ScottCross
09-07-2006, 09:57 AM
I tried to upload some good examples from my museum's collection, but the images were too high of a resolution for this website. They are examples of common household tableware pieces carried by soldiers. Spoons are the most common item, followed by forks (sorry, no images of forks) and knives. These pieces are identified to two Wisconsin soldiers and are at the Oshkosh Public Museum. You can visit our Civil War exhibit at: http://www.oshkoshmuseum.org/Virtual/

AZReenactor
09-07-2006, 11:32 AM
Now as regards to utensils a bigger question could be how should we be holding them. I mean I I usuually eat with a spoon but should I hold it like a pencil, in a tightly closed fist, a loose fist, bowl up or bowl down? And if we start talking about knives and forks should we set the knife down, hold the fork in the right hand, tines up and then change hands to use our knife or should we hold it in the left hand, tines down and keep the knife in our right hand throughout the meal? How about eating peas with our knife, is this still acceptable in the Civil War?


I've read that Americans cut up their food all at once instead of between bites because Americans shared one knife at the table while Europeans each had their own to use.

So many options here...

BTW Scott,
Very nice photos. Thank you for sharing that link.

DaveGink
09-07-2006, 06:00 PM
I tried to upload some good examples from my museum's collection, but the images were too high of a resolution for this website. They are examples of common household tableware pieces carried by soldiers. Spoons are the most common item, followed by forks (sorry, no images of forks) and knives. These pieces are identified to two Wisconsin soldiers and are at the Oshkosh Public Museum. You can visit our Civil War exhibit at: http://www.oshkoshmuseum.org/Virtual/

Hi Scott,
I will have to stop by and visit the museum next time I drive past Oshkosh. I just went through there earlier in the week. Looks like a nice collection.

Ephraim_Zook
09-08-2006, 08:48 AM
How about eating peas with our knife, is this still acceptable in the Civil War?
I eat my peas with honey.
I've done it all my life.
It makes the peas taste funny
but it keeps them on my knife.

Bummer
09-08-2006, 11:31 AM
I use a canteen half, an issue cup, and an original spoon (marked and dated 1862). I have a pocket knife too.

My justification for this preference is that it IS my preference. I was in the Light Leg Infantry for many years; along the way I dropped a lot of stuff because we had to carry every bit of it. My own eating gear (pre-MRE) consisted of a lid off some kind of army cooking pot, the big stainless mess kit spoon and my canteen cup--that's it.
Lo and behold, I found myself doing the same setup in both armies.

In many other things I have found great paralells in both my reenactment stuff & ways, and what I did for real...funny, that.

Spinster
09-08-2006, 10:20 PM
As one tends to a lighter load, I too have gone to a tablespoon and porringer (a pottery piece with handle, halfway between a cup and a bowl in size and shape). Besides being easy to deal with, it passes muster as carry-on luggage as I fly to events.

I noted a high number of spoons and cups only in the hungry and tired Confederate troops at Land Between the Lakes last spring.

They were outnumbered though by the men who presented me with nothing more than the wooly side of their canteen to receive the thick rice and unnamed that they ate with their fingers.

And they were outnumbered by the men who were too tired to stir themselves to come down a steep hill to get any dinner at all.

Rob Weaver
09-09-2006, 07:43 AM
I use one of those folding knife/fork/spoon combinations and have been very happy with it. I think in Lord's the comment is made that this was one of the rare gadgets sold to the soldiers that actually worked. I also carry a nested mess kit.
A lot of country people in the mid-19th c. Still did most of their eating with spoons. The 2-tined fork that was available earlier isn't really good for much. Even conveying meat to your mouth usually requires balancing it between your fork and knife.
I think an adequate mess kit could be as basic as a cup, canteen half and a spoon. Just remember that you're portraying a cultural habit that was from a different class than you're likely to be today (rural lower class as opposed to whatever you really are) and that we don't have a lot of practice eating this way anymore.

hanktrent
09-09-2006, 07:57 AM
The 2-tined fork that was available earlier isn't really good for much. Even conveying meat to your mouth usually requires balancing it between your fork and knife.

In the era of the two-tine fork, though, the knife was wider, more so even than the Civil War era knife, since it was meant to be used more for eating than cutting. I've not found any problem keeping meat on the wider knife alone.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

csuppelsa
09-09-2006, 11:21 AM
My mess kit-

1 Haversack
1 Pocketknife
1 Tin Drum Canteen
1 Ramrod

what else do you need, you can eat off the drum canteen

Rob
09-09-2006, 12:35 PM
From Hardtack and Coffee, Chapter XIV, "Some Inventions and Devices of the War."

"One of the first products of their genius which I recall was a combination knife-fork-and-spoon arrangement, which was peddled through the state camping-grounds in great numbers and variety. Of course every man must have one. So much convenience in so small a compass must be taken advantage of. It was a sort of soldier's trinity, which they all thought that they understood and appreciated. But I doubt whether this invention, on the average, ever got beyond the first camp in active service."

dedogtent
09-09-2006, 09:40 PM
My mess gear is very simple too. Period spoon and fork, a pocket knife I got from a AC donation, a small skillet from Nic Ellis and a small tin coffee cup. My skillet is my cooking utensil and my plate. It's all I have needed for years.

BobSullivanPress
09-10-2006, 07:39 AM
I've always carried something like this: (because I own these originals)

http://www.sullivanpress.com/images/MuseumImages/flatware.jpg

For the life of me I can't figure out those knife-fork-spoon combinations where the knife is on the same piece as the fork and spoon. Because at that point it's simply a pocket knife, not a utensil, since you can't hold the food down with the fork or spoon while cutting it.

Rob Weaver
09-10-2006, 03:25 PM
I've always carried something like this: (because I own these originals)

http://www.sullivanpress.com/images/MuseumImages/flatware.jpg

For the life of me I can't figure out those knife-fork-spoon combinations where the knife is on the same piece as the fork and spoon. Because at that point it's simply a pocket knife, not a utensil, since you can't hold the food down with the fork or spoon while cutting it.

When you extend the blade, you can take it apart into 2 assemblies: one with the knife blade, and the other with the spoon and fork. Interestingly, the spoon and fork, extended, stick out of opposite ends of the handle, so you can alternate them. Kinda useful feature when cooking.

Rob
09-10-2006, 04:29 PM
All the samples I've seen are as stated above - the knife separates from the rest of it by unlocking from the handle when the knife blade is opened.