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664. RANK in our service is indicated by the shoulder-strap.  Navy officers have an assimilated rank, indicated in the same way.  Soldiers should know how to distinguish army and navy officers, in order that they may pay them the proper compliments.  The following diagrams show the corresponding grades in each service:—


Lieutenant-General, or Major-General commanding the Army.













Lieutenant-Colonel. (Silver Leaf.)

Commander. (Silver Leaf.)

Major (Gold Leaf.)

Lieutenant-Commander. (Gold Leaf.)



First Lieutenant.


Second Lieutenant.



Medical Cadet—a strap of green cloth, with stripe of gold lace three inches long and half an inch wide placed in the middle. (Reg. 1576.)

665. Rank of non-commissioned officers is indicated by the chevrons which they wear, and which are familiar to almost every soldier.  The color of the shoulder-straps and chevrons indicates the arm of service to which they belong,—dark blue for infantry, red for artillery, and yellow for cavalry.  The following are the Regulations,—viz.:


1577. The rank of non-commissioned officers will be marked by chevrons upon both sleeves of the uniform coat and overcoat, above the elbow, of silk or worsted binding one-half an inch wide, same color as the edging on the coat, points down, as follows:—

1578. For a sergeant major—three bars and an arc, in silk.

1579. For a quartermaster sergeant—three bars and a tie, in silk.

1580. For an ordnance sergeant—three bars and a star, in silk.

1581. For a hospital steward—a half chevron of the following description—viz.: of emerald green cloth, one and three-fourths inches wide, running obliquely downward from the outer to the inner seam of the sleeve, and at an angle of about thirty degrees with a horizontal, parallel to, and one-eighth of an inch distant from, both the upper and lower edge, an embroidery of yellow silk, one-eighth of an inch wide, and in the centre a “caduceus” two inches long, embroidered also with yellow silk, the head toward the outer seam of the sleeve.

1582. For a first sergeant—three bars and a lozenge, in worsted.

1583. For a sergeant—three bars, in worsted.

1584. For a corporal—two bars, in worsted.

1585. For a pioneer—two crossed hatchets of cloth, same color and material as the edging of the collar, to be sewn on each arm above the elbow in the place indicated for a chevron (those of a corporal to be just above and resting on the chevron), the head of the hatchet upward, its edge outward, of the following dimensions, viz.: Handle—four and one-half inches long, one-fourth to one-third of an inch wide.  Hatchet—two inches long, one inch wide at the edge.

1586. To indicate service.—All non-commissioned officers, musicians, and privates, who have served faithfully for the term of five years, will wear, as a mark of distinction, upon both sleeves of the uniform coat, below the elbow, a diagonal half chevron, one-half an inch wide, extending from seam to seam, the front end nearest the cuff, and one-half an inch above the point of the cuff to be of the same color as the edging on the coat.  In like manner, an additional half chevron, above and parallel to the first, for every subsequent five years of faithful service; distance between each chevron one-fourth of an inch.  Service in war will be indicated by a light or sky-blue stripe on each side of the chevron for artillery, and a red stripe for all other corps, the stripe to be one-eighth of an inch wide.”



666. BADGES are now in use in the Army of the Potomac, and they are an important feature in its organization.  The design of the badges is based upon a system of flags now in use in that army for designating the various corps, divisions, and brigades.

667. The badge indicates at once what command the wearer belongs to.  The troops are required to wear them and keep them in sight, so that it is not necessary to ask an officer or soldier where he belongs.

668. Every soldier should make himself acquainted with the flags and badges of the army he belongs to.  As orderly, he will be required to know them and it is important that soldiers should be able to identify the commands to which their comrades belong.

669. Corps flags are swallow-tails, with the number of the corps in the centre.  Division flags are square, with the badge of the corps in the centre, and the number of the division is indicated by the color.  Brigade flags are triangular, with the badge in the centre; and the number of the brigade is indicated by a corresponding arrangement of colors to that of the division.



670. THE following extracts are from the Sanitary Commission, Dr. Hall’s and other advice to soldiers:—


“1. In any ordinary campaign, sickness disables or destroys three times as many as the sword.

“2. Sunstroke may be prevented by wearing a silk handkerchief in the crown of the hat, by a wet cloth, or by moistened green leaves or grass.

“3. Never lie or sit down on the grass or bare earth for a moment; rather use your hat: a handkerchief even, is a protection.  The warmer you are, the greater need of precaution, as a damp vapor is immediately generated, to be absorbed by the clothing, and to cool you off too rapidly.

“4. While marching, or on active duty, the more thirsty you are, the more essential is it to safety of life itself to rinse out the month two or three times, and then take a swallow of water at a time, with short intervals.  A brave French general, on a forced march, fell dead on the instant by drinking largely of cold water, when snow was on the ground.

“5. Abundant sleep is essential to bodily efficiency, and to that alertness of mind which is all-important in engagement.  Few things more certainly and more effectually prevent sound sleep than eating heartily after sundown, especially after a heavy march or desperate battle.

“6. Nothing is more certain to secure endurance and capability of long-continued effort than the avoidance of every thing as a drink except cold water (and coffee at breakfast).  Drink as little as possible of even cold water.  Experience teaches old soldiers that the less they drink on a march the better, and that they suffer less in the end by controlling the desire to drink, however urgent.

“7. After any sort of exhausting effort, a cup of coffee or tea, hot or cold, is an admirable sustainer of the strength until nature begins to recover herself.

“8. Never eat heartily just before a great undertaking, because the nervous power is irresistibly drawn to the stomach to manage the food eaten, thus draining off that supply which the brain and muscles so much need.

“9. ‘Bread and soup are the great items of a soldier’s diet in every situation: to make them well is an essential part of his instruction.  These great scourges of camp, scurvy and diarrhea more frequently result from want or skill in cooking than from any other cause whatever.  Officers in command, and, more immediately, regimental officers, will, therefore, give strict attention to this vital branch of interior economy.’—WINFIELD SCOTT.

“10. If you will drink spirits, it is incomparably safer to do so after an effort than before, for it gives only transient strength, lasting but a few minutes.  As it can never be known how long any given effort is to last—and, if longer than a few minutes, the body becomes more feeble than it would have been without the stimulus—it is clear that the use before an effort is hazardous, and is unwise.

“11. Always eat at regular hours.  Neglect in this tends to indigestion, diarrhea, &c.

“12. Stew or boil your meat, always.  Roasting and frying are wasteful and unhealthy modes for camp cooking (particularly frying).

“13. An old soldier drinks and eats as little as possible whilst marching.  The recruit, on the contrary, is continually munching the contents of his haversack, and using his canteen; it is a bad habit, and causes more suffering in the end.

“14. Never go to sleep, especially after a great effort, even in hot weather, without some covering over you.

“15. Rather than lie down on the bare ground, lie in the hollow of two logs placed together, or across several smaller pieces of wood laid side by side; or sit on your hat, leaning against a tree.  A nap of ten or fifteen minutes in that position will refresh you more than an hour on the bare earth, with the additional advantage of perfect safety.

“16. A cut is less dangerous than a bullet-wound, and heals more rapidly.

“17. If from any wound the blood spurts out in jets, instead of a steady stream, you will die in a few minutes, unless it be remedied; because an artery has been divided, and that takes the blood direct from the fountain of life.  To stop this instantly, tie a handkerchief or other cloth very loosely BETWEEN the wound and the heart, put a stick, bayonet, or ramrod between the skin and the handkerchief, and twist it around until the bleeding ceases, and keep it thus until the surgeon arrives.

“18. If the blood flows in a slow, regular stream, a vein has been pierced, and the handkerchief must be on the other side of the wound from the heart, that is, below the wound.

“19. Fire low.—A bullet through the abdomen (belly or stomach) is more certainly fatal than if aimed at the head or heart; for in the latter cases the ball is often glanced off by the bone, or follows round it under the skin.  But when it enters the stomach or bowels, from any direction, death is inevitable, but scarcely ever instantaneous.  Generally the person lives a day or two, with perfect clearness of intellect, often not suffering greatly.  The practical bearing of this statement in reference to the future is clear.  Fire low.

“20. Whenever possible, take a plunge into any lake or running stream every morning, as soon as you get up; if none at hand, endeavor to wash the body all over, as soon as you leave your bed: for personal cleanliness acts like a charm against all diseases, always either warding them off altogether, or greatly mitigating their severity and shortening their duration.

“21. Keep the hair of the head closely cut, say within an inch and a half of the scalp in every part, repeated on the first of each month, and wash the whole scalp plentifully in cold water every morning.

“22. Wear woolen stockings and moderately loose shoes, keeping the toe and finger nails cut close.  Wash the stockings whenever soiled and the underclothing once a week.  Thoroughly dry both.

“23. It is important to wash the feet well every night (not in the morning); because it aids to keep the skin and nails soft, to prevent chafing, blisters, and corns, all of which greatly interfere with a soldier’s duty.

“24. If the feet begin to chafe, rub the socks with common soap where they come in contact with the sore places.  If you rub the feet well with soap (hard soap) before the march, you will scarcely be troubled with sore feet.

“25. The most universally safe position, after all stunnings, hurts, and wounds, is that of being placed on the back, the head being elevated three or four inches only,—aiding, more than any thing else can do, to equalize and restore the proper circulation of the blood.

“26. The more weary you are after a march or other work, the more easily will you take cold, if you remain still, after it is over, unless the moment you cease motion you throw a coat or blanket over your shoulders.  This precaution should be taken in the warmest weather, especially if there is even a slight air stirring.

“27. The greatest physical kindness you can show a severely wounded comrade is, first to place him on his back, and then give him some water to drink from a canteen or ambulance-bucket.  I have seen a dying man clutch at a single drop of water from the finger’s end, with the voraciousness of a famished tiger.

“28. If wet to the skin by rain or swimming rivers, keep in motion until the clothes are dried; and no harm will result.

“29. Whenever it is possible, do, by all means, when you have to use water for cooking or drinking from ponds or sluggish streams, boil it well, and, when cool, shake it, or stir it, so that the oxygen of the air shall get to it, which greatly improves it for drinking.  This boiling arrests the process of fermentation, which arises from the presence of organic and inorganic impurities, thus tending to prevent cholera and all bowel-diseases.  If there is no time for boiling, at least strain it through a cloth, even if you have to use a shirt or trowsers-leg.

“30. Water can be made almost ice-cool in the hottest weather, by closely enveloping a filled canteen, or other vessel, with woolen cloth kept plentifully wetted and exposed.

“31. While on a march, lie down the moment you halt for a rest.  Every minute spent in that position refreshes more than five minutes standing or loitering about.

“32. A daily evacuation of the bowels is indispensable to bodily health vigor, and endurance: this is promoted, in many cases, by stirring a tablespoonful of corn (Indian) meal in a glass of water, and drinking it on rising in the morning.

“33. Inattention to nature’s calls is a frequent source of disease.  The strictest discipline in the performance of these duties is absolutely essential to health, as well as to decency.  Men should never be allowed to void their excrement elsewhere than in the regular-established sinks.  In well-regulated camps the sinks are visited daily by a police party, a layer of earth thrown in, and lime and other disinfecting agents employed to prevent them from becoming offensive and unhealthy.  It is the duty of the surgeon to call the attention of the commanding officer to any neglect of this important item of camp police, to see that the shambles, where the cattle are slaughtered, are not allowed to become offensive, and that all offal is promptly buried at a sufficient distance from camp, and covered by at least four feet of earth.

“34. The site of a camp should be selected for the dryness of its soil, its proximity to fresh water of good quality, and shelter from high winds.  It should be on a slight declivity, in order to facilitate drainage, and not in the vicinity of swamps or stagnant water.  A trench at least eight inches deep should be dug around each tent, to secure dryness, and these should lead into other and deeper main drains or gutters, by which the water will be conducted away from the tents.

“35. The tents for the men should be placed as far from each other as the ‘Regulations’ and the dimensions of the camp permit (never less than two paces).  Crowding is always injurious to health.  No refuse, slops, or excrement should be allowed to be deposited in the trenches for drainage around the tents.  Each tent should be thoroughly swept out daily, and the materials used for bedding aired and sunned, if possible.  The canvas should be raised freely at its base, and it should be kept open as much as possible during the daytime, in dry weather, in order to secure ventilation; for tents are liable to become very unhealthy if not constantly and thoroughly aired.  Free ventilation of tents should be secured at night, by opening and raising the base of the tent to as great an extent as the weather will permit.

“36. The crowding of men in tents for sleeping is highly injurious to health, and will always be prevented by a commanding officer who is anxious for the welfare of his men.  Experience has proved that sleeping beneath simple sheds of canvas, or even in the open air, is less dangerous to health than overcrowding in tents.

“37. The men should sleep in their shirts and drawers, removing the shoes, stockings, and outer clothing, except when absolutely impracticable.  Sleeping in the clothes is never so refreshing, and is absolutely unhealthy.

“38. Loose bowels, namely, acting more than once a day, with a feeling of debility afterwards, is the first step towards cholera.  The best remedy is instant and perfect quietude of body, eating nothing but boiled rice, with or without boiled milk.  In more decided cases, a woolen flannel, with two thicknesses in front, should be bound tightly around the abdomen, especially if marching is a necessity.

To have ‘been to the wars’ is a life-long honor increasing with advancing years; while to have died in defence of your country will be the boast and glory of your children’s children.”



671. THE ration allowed the soldier is large enough, and its component parts are sufficiently variable, to admit of a great variety of very palatable dishes: and it is only necessary to refer to some of the numerous cook-books to be had, to make them, where the situation of the troops is such that they can avail themselves of the requisite cooking-utensils.

672. The cooking-utensils issued to troops are, however, so limited, that very little variety is practicable.  The mess-pans and camp-kettles are all that are furnished the soldier.  Of these, the mess-pan is not available for cooking, and is only useful to serve up the food after being cooked.  Frying-pans, tin cups, plates, knives and forks, &c., are sometimes issued to volunteers by State authorities on entering service, but are not subsequently furnished, and, when worn out or lost, must be replaced by means of the company fund.

673. Hence, instructions for cooking in the field must be adapted to the means within the soldier’s reach, and such makeshifts as experience has suggested.  At permanent camps and garrisons, the cooking can be carried to the perfection of that of a hotel, by a judicious management of the company savings, or contributions from other sources.  No care is so well rewarded as that which is devoted to making the most of the ration and presenting to the men the best possible diet that can be made of it.

674. BREAD is issued to the soldier either as baker’s bread, hard bread, flour, or corn meal.  The first two require no further preparation; the last two must be prepared.

675. Bread, such as is usually made by bakers, can be had only when the troops are stationary unless there is a baker in the command and the men have experience in making ovens.  If kept more than two or three days, it becomes dry and unpalatable.  It is too bulky for the march.

676. Hard bread, although not so bulky as soft bread, is still inconvenient when required to be transported in quantity.  Three days’ rations fill a soldier’s haversack.  When old, it is unpalatable, and sometimes indigestible.  It can be made more agreeable to the taste by toasting, either in a dry condition, or soaked in water for a few moments.  Crumbs of hard bread may be made very palatable by soaking them in water, and then frying them in a pan with a little pork fat.  Hard bread soon spoils when it gets wet, and must be used immediately, or it will be worthless.

677. Flour is more portable than bread; but without experience in cooking, with the limited means at their disposal, soldiers are liable to make a very indigestible bread from it.  Where troops halt for a few days, it is economical to build small ovens of clay, which may be made with great facility after a little experience.  A ferment is always necessary to make light palatable bread of flour.  A stock of ferment may be kept constantly on hand by retaining a piece of dough from one baking to another; and it is best transported by packing it in the flour.

678. The simplest and best method is to make self-rising flour, by incorporating with the flour, in a dry state, bicarbonate of soda and acid phosphate of lime.  These articles must be finely pulverized and minutely incorporated with the flour.  A comparatively small quantity is required.  A dollar’s worth is sufficient for a barrel of flour.  The self-rising flour, so well known and highly prized in the mining-districts of California, is made in this way.  It requires only the addition of salt and sufficient water to make a dough, and can be baked in the ashes between the halves of an old canteen, or even rolled up in wet paper or covered with leaves.  It is equally good for pancakes or fritters.  These last may be made much more digestible by the addition of boiled rice.

679. Corn meal is much more available for troops in the field where it can be obtained fresh, as it requires no ferment, and requires no cooking-utensils,—a plain board placed before a fire being all the oven absolutely necessary.  With a frying-pan, thin cakes can be rapidly baked, and are an excellent diet.  The meal can always be had fresh by transporting the small hand-mill in common use.

680. An excellent substitute for bread, when the usual ration cannot be had, is parched wheat, or parched corn, either eaten in the grain, or ground into flour.  It is more healthy than the ordinary bread; and the flour, mixed with water, either cold or hot, is much more palatable than from its crudity would be supposed.  Boiled with meat, it is an excellent substitute for vegetables.  Boiled wheat and boiled corn—the latter usually called hominy—are available almost everywhere, when bread cannot be had.

681. MEAT is issued to soldiers in the form of fresh beef salt beet salt pork, and bacon.  Fresh beef is perishable, as well as bulky, and, where it accompanies troops on the hoof, requires time to slaughter and to cook.  Salt beef is bulky, but less perishable than fresh.  Salt pork and bacon are preferred by old troops on the march, as being the least bulky, easily cooked, and more readily kept than beef.  It has, however, been found by experience best to alternate those different kinds according to means and opportunities.

682. Fresh beef is most economically cooked by boiling in the camp-kettles usually furnished, particularly when the cooking is for the entire company, as the liquor in which the beef has been cooked is then used for soup.  The value of soup is not fully appreciated by the American soldier.  It is the most nourishing and healthy diet that can he prepared from his ration, and enables the mixed vegetables to be used in a palatable form.

683. In boiling beef to make soup, the proportion of water should be about a quart to the pound, the meat being cut in such a shape that it will be covered by the water.  It should be made to boil as soon as possible, and then the fire should be reduced so as to let the pot simmer.  From three to four hours are necessary to cook the beef.  The soup may be made at the same time, if necessary, or the liquor may be saved from one day to another.  It keeps best in earthen vessels, where they can be had for the purpose.

684. The bones of beef are the best for making soup, and should always be saved for that purpose.  Soldiers, however, are apt to throw them away, particularly where the messes are small and the amount does not seem to justify the economy.

685. Roasting beef is impracticable in the field, but broiling it is the common practice.  It is a healthy but wasteful mode of cooking.  Placed on the coals, or stock upon a stick over the fire, it is easily cooked, and very palatable.  Frying, particularly in fat, is neither economical nor healthy, although a very common practice in the service.  The gravy is used as a substitute for butter.

686. Salt beef can be cooked in but one way to advantage; and that is, by boiling.  It should be thoroughly soaked in cold water (cold water dissolves salt better than warm water), and frequently changed, for ten or twelve hours, or longer, and should then be cooked the same as fresh beef.  It requires longer to cook than fresh beef and is not available for soup, on account of the salt it contains.  When old, it must be cooked a long time to be rendered palatable.  When very salt, it may be added to potatoes and onions, and a palatable hash made of it.

687. Salt pork is usually boiled.  As with salt beef, it should be well soaked to extract the salt, and then boiled for three or four hours.  The grease, which should be skimmed off and saved, may be used in various ways as a substitute for lard: in the field, however, this cannot well be done.  In permanent camps and garrison it can be saved, and, if not used, can be sold to advantage and will serve to increase the company fund.  When issued to small messes, salt pork, like fresh beef, can be broiled on the coals; but this is a very wasteful method of preparing it.

688. Bacon is usually cooked in the same way as salt pork.  It is, generally, not so salt, but requires to be well washed and scraped of the rust to make it palatable.  Frying salt pork and bacon has the same objections as frying fresh beef.  In an emergency, salt pork or bacon may be eaten without cooking, or it may be cooked and eaten cold,—which is preferable.  Cutting it in thin slices and broiling it on the coals rapidly, varies the taste when the appetite grows tired of it boiled or raw.

689. Beans and peas form a very nutritious diet.  They require considerable time to cook, and, therefore, are not available on the march.  They should be soaked over-night, and boiled slowly for six or eight hours.  Salt should not be added until the beans are nearly done.  The water in which they are cooked should be soft.  Soup is the only available dish in the field, except plain boiling.  Baked pork and beans can only be had with the necessary conveniences.  A piece of pork or bacon should be added to the pot when boiling bean soup.  About two pounds to the gallon is a good proportion.

690. Rice is not fully appreciated by the Northern soldier, and the cooking is rarely well done.  Some experience is necessary to cook it well.  When well cooked, each grain of rice will be separate and dry.  When badly cooked, it forms an unpalatable paste.  Two quarts of water to half a pound of rice, well washed.  It should boil for about ten minutes, or until the grains of rice begin to swell and soften.  The water should then be poured off, the pot closely covered and set near the fire,—but not too close, or it will scorch.  In twenty minutes the grains will have swelled to their fullest extent and the rice be done.  Each grain will be separate and dry; and the rice may be eaten with sugar, molasses, or beef-gravy.  The Chinese live almost exclusively on rice, and perform arduous labors with no other diet.

691. Hominy may be issued in lieu of rice, and is cooked very much in the same way.  It requires to be boiled about an hour; and great care must be taken to prevent it from scorching.  In all cooking it should be remembered that water cannot be heated in an ordinary kettle beyond 212º.  After it commences to boil, it cannot be made any hotter; any increase of fire is only calculated to burn the victuals, and does not hasten the cooking.  The mechanical ebullition of water sometimes facilitates the cooking of some dishes, but not in consequence of any increase of heat to the water.  Scorching of rice or hominy, or any other food, in the thin camp-kettles, is very liable to occur, and may easily be prevented by using a false bottom in the kettle, which may be made either of wood, or tin, or sheet iron.  Salt and pepper are the best condiments for hominy.  What is left over may be cut in slices, and fried in bacon or pork fat, and makes a good dish.  Mush made of corn meal may be fried in the same way.

692. Coffee is the soldier’s greatest sustainer; and he will miss it more than any other part of his ration.  When issued in the grain, great care is necessary in roasting it.  The pan in which it is roasted should be slightly greased, to prevent scorching.  A steady fire should be maintained, and the coffee constantly stirred.  Roasted coffee in the grain is not so good as green, as it deteriorates after roasting the longer it is kept, and still more so after being ground.  Coffee should be boiled about twenty minutes, and is better when made in large quantity for the entire company.  There is economy in adding the proper proportion of sugar for the whole amount of coffee whilst cooking.  After the coffee is sufficiently cooked, a cup of cold water should be added, and, by allowing it to stand a few minutes, the grounds all settle at the bottom.  Experience will teach how coffee should be used: strong coffee will be found to be very injurious to some persons and very salutary to others.

693. Tea may be issued in lieu of coffee, but is not so much preferred, although equally valuable to the soldier in its qualities.  On a long and fatiguing march a canteen of cold tea is invaluable, greatly relieving exhaustion.  The secret of making tea consists in using vessels that are entirely free from any thing that can affect the natural taste of the tea.  The kettle, if not used exclusively for tea, should, therefore, be thoroughly scoured each time before using.  The water should first be made to boil; the tea is then added, and allowed to boil for a few seconds, then removed from the fire, and the kettle is covered closely and allowed to stand for five minutes.  It is then ready for use.  The proportions in which coffee and tea are used are limited to the allowance: a ration is deemed sufficient to make coffee or tea for two meals daily.

694. Desiccated vegetables are not appreciated, because the cooking is not understood.  The practice of drying vegetables in the green state, for winter use, is well understood and practiced by the peasantry of Europe, although not equal to the practice of canning in this country.  Vegetables of this kind have the advantage in portability, and are great health-preservers where fresh vegetables cannot be had.  When well cooked, they are very palatable.  They require to be soaked several hours, and should be cooked about three hours.  No salt or pepper is required, as sufficient has already been added to preserve them.  They swell greatly; and care should be taken not to add too much to the quantity of water.  As soup, they are most palatable.  An ounce of vegetables to a quart of water is a good proportion.  Rice, fresh potatoes, and onions, if they can be had, improve the soup.

695. Desiccated potatoes are best cooked by adding sufficient water to cover the potatoes, and then boiling slowly until all the water is evaporated, leaving a dry mush that is a very good substitute for fresh potatoes.

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Transcribed by Scott Gutzke, 2006.

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