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Straight Arrow
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Beef and Sugar

Mon Jan 25, 2016 6:03 am

I was rereading The Life of Johnny Reb, the chapter entitled Bad Beef and Corn Bread, an old favorite of mine, when I came across this statement.

"Finally, the cutting in two of the Confederacy by Yankee operations along the Mississippi in 1863 did incalculable damage by reducing to a mere trickle the flow of meat, sugar, molasses and other essentials produced west of the river."

What say you? Do you think this line of reasoning holds up?
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khbynum
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Mon Jan 25, 2016 3:33 pm

I agree said operations reduced flow across the river to a trickle, but not the rest. Northern Florida produced a lot of beef at that time. Coastal SC produced sugar (and thus, I assume, molasses) as did other Deep South states. We've had this discussion before, with general agreement that the South's main problem was not producing food but distributing it along it's antiquated railroads.

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Gray Fox
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Mon Jan 25, 2016 4:16 pm

The historical record seems to be that Texas cattle drives, before and after the CW, were largely to railheads in KS, i.e., the North. Initially some cattle were herded to Confederate troops in LA. I've found no evidence that the cattle were ever herded any further east. Texas cattle were immune to a disease that a local tick carried, that other cattle in the rest of the country were not. If they had been herded into the deep South, the diseased ticks might have done more damage than good.

The South started the war with the third largest railroad network in the world, behind only the Union and Great Britain. Due to poor managment, the trains fell into disrepair. The food and supplies for the war effort were ignored so that cotton could be moved to blockade runners. One runner brought enough pairs of shoes for the entire Confederate army...who never got them.
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pgr
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Mon Jan 25, 2016 11:38 pm

On the subject of cattle, it is always fun to bring up the Beefsteak Raid. There is a nice little description in this article:

The size of the herd, according to one source was 2,486 head of cattle which, using the accepted Federal planning factor of 500 rations per head, is 1,243,000 individual rations (using the regulation 1¼ pounds per ration), enough beef to feed 1,000 men for 1,243 days. If the ration is reduced to one pound per man per day, the result is 1,553,750 rations, or enough beefsteaks to feed 1,000 men for 1,554 days. This same source did the arithmetic a little differently, but arrived at a similar conclusion:

“The beeves taken in Hampton‟s late expedition are judged, by a London grazier, to weigh 800 pounds net. Twenty-four hundred and eighty-six beeves at 800 pounds would make an aggregate of 1,988,800 pounds, or within a fraction of two millions of pounds. This, distributed in daily rations of a pound each, would feed 1,000 men for nearly 2,000 days, 10,000 men for 200 days, or 50,000 men for forty days, and so forth. It is a very nice addition to our commissariat, for which we are much obliged to Mr. Grant, and particularly to General Hampton and his braves.”

There is even an interesting sequel to the Beefsteak Raid:
“There was much speculation at the time, as to who was responsible for leaving the cattle-herd which invited this revel raid. It seems to have been a high officer of the army, who in all other respects has deserved well of his country, and whose name is for this reason withheld.

“Shortly after this affair, this officer dined with the commander-in-chief at the headquarters of General Kautz. In the course of conversation, he put this question: "General, how long are we going to remain here?‟

The reticent Grant smoked on a few seconds, then took the inevitable
cigar from his lips, and, while dislodging the ashes with his little finger, quietly answered: "I don‟t know General. If you keep on feeding Lee‟s army with beef, we shall have to stay a good while."
The questioner blushed, and Grant resumed his smoking.”


I've always thought that Texas cattle got moved around quite a bit, but as Grey Fox has stated, there does not seem to be much proof for it. Indeed, from my quick googling, it sounds like the War killed the market, to the extent that many ranchers didn't even see the value in maintaining their herds. Of course if contemporary writers attest to the taking of the Mississippi as causing a cattle impact, it is completely possible. In any event, it sounds like campaigning armies consumed a lot of beef...

khbynum
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Tue Jan 26, 2016 2:00 am

Yes, and from what I've read, Confederate pickets "moo"-ed across the lines to their Union counterparts for weeks thereafter.

Civil War armies often herded cattle as a ready supply of rations on the hoof. Despite the amount of pork Civil War (or, at least Southern) soldiers ate, I've never read of them herding swine for rations, although Lee sent back thousands during his invasion of Pennsylvania. I'm told on good authority that horses don't like pigs much.

Gray Fox, that's interesting about the cattle tick. I used to be a biologist, could you give me a reference or a name for the species, I'd like to look into that.

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Straight Arrow
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Tue Jan 26, 2016 3:38 am

Get along little pork chop.

Soldiers herding cattle and pigs with Union army supply wagons in background.

Illus. in: V. Blada's war sketches. London [i.e. Baltimore], 1864, pl. 33.

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hanny1
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Re: Beef and Sugar

Mon Mar 06, 2017 8:52 am

Straight Arrow wrote:I was rereading The Life of Johnny Reb, the chapter entitled Bad Beef and Corn Bread, an old favorite of mine, when I came across this statement.

"Finally, the cutting in two of the Confederacy by Yankee operations along the Mississippi in 1863 did incalculable damage by reducing to a mere trickle the flow of meat, sugar, molasses and other essentials produced west of the river."

What say you? Do you think this line of reasoning holds up?
before the wbts around 50'ooo beeves went from Texas to the south, from Texas, n Orleans saw 10'000 by steamer the rest overland, this rose to 75'000 during the war but was curtailed by the loss of n Orleans and control of miss river to a total under 15'000 for the last 2 years. Beeves were killed and the meat salted in la, but then needed a rail line to move it or river, Try brocks book on the Texas cattle drives, or agriculture and productivity of the confederacy, policy productivity and power by Doug hurt.

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