Monday, May 27, 2013

Civil War Soldier Charlie in Alice's Tulips by Sandra Dallas

My Great-Grandfather James Lynch - Civil War Soldier for the Union

This month in Quilters' Book Club, we are reading and discussing Alice's Tulips by Sandra Dallas.  One of the first events in the book is Charlie Bullock "going for a soldier" to fight for the North in the Civil War.  If you'd like to make a quilt block to represent this event, I found several block patterns free on-line:
Army Star Quilt Block

Strength in Union Quilt Block

Union Square Quilt Block

Union Squares Quilt Block

Yankee Charm Quilt Block

In the book, Alice writes her sister Lizzie:  "Harve Stout is one of Charlie's five messmates, all of them from Iowa, and Harve's the best there is for making boiled pudding out of hardtack.  He breaks up the hard crackers and mixes them with water or sometimes a little whiskey, and bacon grease, pours the mess into a sock, and boils it.  I write, 'Is the sock clean?'

"'Shoot no,' Charlie writes back.  'How do you think it gets the flavor?'"

I did some internet research on hardtack.  "Hardtack was a biscuit made of flour with other simple ingredients, and issued to Union soldiers throughout the war.  Hardtack crackers made up a large portion of a soldier's daily ration.  Large factories in the North baked hundreds of hardtack crackers every day, packed them in wooden crates and shipped them out by wagon or rail.  Usually, the hardtack did not get to the soldiers until months after it had been made.  By that time, they were very hard, so hard that soldiers called them 'tooth dullers' and 'sheet iron crackers.'  Sometimes they were infested with small bugs the soldiers called weevils, so they referred to the hardtack as 'worm castles' because of the many holes bored through the crackers by these pests. Soldiers were usually allowed six to eight crackers for a three-day ration.  There were a number of ways to eat them - plain or prepared with other ration items. Soldiers would crumble them into coffee or soften them in water and fry the hardtack with some bacon grease."
Union Hardtack Recipe
2 cups of flour
1/2 to 3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon of Crisco or vegetable fat
6 pinches of salt

1.  Mix the ingredients together into a stiff batter.  Knead several times and spread the dough out flat to a thickness of ½” on an ungreased cookie sheet.
2.  Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.
3.  Remove from oven, cut dough into 3-inch squares, and punch four rows of holes, four holes per row into the dough.
4.  Turn dough over, return to the oven and bake another 30 minutes.
5.  Turn oven off and leave the door closed. Leave the hardtack in the oven until cool. Remove and enjoy!

My great-grandfather James Lynch fought for the North in the Civil War.  He was 68 when my grandmother was born.  As a teenager, she interviewed him and wrote:

"On August 12, 1862, James enlisted and joined Company G of the Illinois Volunteer 74th Infantry on the side of the North in the Civil War.  His commander was General Thomas, whom he liked.  Some of the battles he fought in were:  Cableorchard (the first one), Peachtree Creek, Murfreesboro, Chattanooga, Chickamauga, Francisville, Liberty Gap, and Perryville.  He was never wounded, but a bullet hit his canteen and he lost all of his drinking water.  He and his comrades were hungry many times.  They were sent out to forage from the farms around them.  Once he and another soldier tried to rob a bee tree, with many stings and little honey.  After the war, he was discharged at Nashville, Tennessee on June 10, 1865."

Do you have any Civil War stories passed down through your family?  Inquiring minds want to know!  Please reply in the comment section.  (Remember to first click on the blog title if you're reading via email.)

By commenting, you are also entering your name in a giveaway for Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini.  Winner will be announced June 1.

You might also enjoy reading my previous blog post here.


  1. I have heard no stories about the Civil war in my family. I have been told all the men in the family were preachers and all the women, teachers. They crossed the "mountains" into Ohio before it was a state in an ox-pulled wagon. (taking the first piano into Ohio... I wonder how they knew it was the first?) My granddad was born in a one-room log cabin. Yep, he was a preacher, and his sister a teacher. No war stories.

  2. Well sent one message but guess it didn't go through...Have just finished
    reading Alice's Tulips...were you surprised at who killed Sam Smead?
    I sure was....didn't suspect that person....Have to decide which quilt block to make to represent this story. Making my quilt blocks in three colors so have to find the best block to represent the story that will look
    well in three colors. Am enjoying the reading and looking forward to the
    next story


  3. My Grandpa Atterholt was born right after the Civil War ended. When I was little, we would spend two weeks each summer, around the 4th of July in Ohio. Grandpa lived with Aunt Dorothy. I followed Grandpa around like a puppy, and I have heard that he enjoyed the attention, too. I don't remember his stories as I was too little, but I am sure that he mentioned his family being involved with hiding ex-slaves. I asked my cousin (the only other family member I have contact with) and she says she heard something similar. Her grandfather was brother to my grandfather. There is no way to verify this, but I believe it to be true. This area was very near Amish country.

  4. I have no Civil War stories from my family. But, I do know where Peachtree Creek is! I wonder if the infamous Peachtree Creek in Buckhead, here in the Atlanta area is the same one your Great Grandfather fought at. That creek floods every time we have massive amounts of rain. The houses built along it flood. The owners of the homes can't even sell them. Some have had their homes rebuilt on stilts and other ways to save the home from flooding and having to gut the house each and every time. It's also on a golf course that Bobby Jones designed and built. Check out this link to the golf course and read more about the Peachtree Creek Battle!

  5. i don't have any civil war stories of my own, but was very interested in the story you told of your great grandfather, as i live in illinois.

  6. I enjoy hearing about your family history! My mom was adopted and my dad's family (6 brothers) came over from Germany in 1859. I guess my family wasn't good about recording or telling about their experiences.

  7. My Great, great, great grandfather was a gunsmith in Branson, MO. Since he had son's on both sides of the war, he refused to make or repair guns for either side. Hence, both sides hunted for him when they were near. He hid out in a cave (the Old soldiers cave), and the cave he hid in and the surrounding land, has since been donated to the City of Branson as a park. The old farm was in what is now downtown Branson. It was lost after the war due to back taxes. The cemetery in downtown Branson was started by this same family, so they could bury 2 of their sons. One of the sons was a sniper, and was hunted down and killed while he was visiting his family, on leave.

    1. Hey, you never know when a comment you make will grab someone elses attention. My previous post set off bells for someone else, who was researching her great grandfather. She'd seen a story (that my father had written) about the old soldiers cave in Branson. Turns out that she and I are related and didn't know it. How cool is that to make a comment, then find a new family member because of it.


I love hearing from readers. Your comments make my day!