According to his diary, on October 20th, Henry Mosler offered to help some “beautifull girls” whom he encountered the day before. He noted,
I politely offered my assistance to bring forward those things I was by Underbrush of Pine so that you could not see 10 steps ahead then passed into a road also in the depth of the forest. I always keeping a sharp lookout with Carbine in hand. While moving cautiously along I noticed some secession Biscuits on the ground. I halted and said I to her I suppose you are not leading me into a trap. There were secession troops here says I. Yes. says she only yesterday their pikets where here before you came we took a rest on my shawl packed the horse with flour Blankets & &c I returned where I left for camp found camp had been moved about 2 miles ahead to the Cross Roads.
This scene captured my imagination for at least two reasons: 1) Here’s yet another example of Mosler’s encounters with “beautifull girls” along his journey. And, 2) his vivid account of spotting Confederate crackers along the trail piqued my curiosity.
Southern soldiers evidently dropped “secession Biscuits” when they camped in the woods the evening before. As they had moved on from that site, Mosler was not in danger. Still, his description of the discovery of crumbs of the Confederacy is an evocative image, almost like a fairy tale. I was especially curious about the biscuits themselves, whether they were a bread or a cracker, sweet or savory. After poking around in William C. Davis’ A Taste for War: The Culinary History of the Blue and the Gray, I found a recipe for Confederate Biscuits:
Mix 1 quart of flour and 3 teaspoons of cream of tartar. Then dissolve 2 tablespoons of shortening or lard and 1 teaspoon of baking soda in hot water, and add enough to the flour to make a stiff dough. Cut into biscuit-size pieces and bake in a 400° oven for 15 minutes or until done, or on a plank in front of a fire until brown.
If you bake some on your own plank, would you let us know the results?
Quinn is the Terra Foundation Project Manager for Online Scholarly and Educational Initiatives at the Archives of American Art