Food Was a Key Factor in the Civil War’s Outcome
Union and Confederate soldiers liked their caffeine fix, but only the Northern men at arms had regular access to coffee made from real coffee beans. The Union blockade made coffee rare in the Confederacy, so Southerners often settled for substitutes. Rebels desperate for a cup of Joe brewed up chicory, peanuts, peas, rye, dried apples, acorns, dandelion roots, or whatever else could trick their senses into believing it was coffee. Confederate General J. E. B. Stuart described the use of potatoes as coffee substitutes:
“Potatoes were peeled and cut into “chunks” about the size of coffee berries. The pieces were spread out in the sun to dry, then parched until brown, after which they were ground. The grounds were mixed with a little water until a paste resulted, after which hot water was added. When the grounds settled to the bottom of the coffee pot, the beverage could be poured and drunk“. Coffee beans became such hot commodities in the Confederacy that one Atlanta jeweler used them instead of diamonds in breast pins.