Hard Tack

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Melody - "Hard Times Come Again No More", Stephen Foster, 1855; Seq. by Werner Tomaschewski
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Let us close our game of poker,
Take our tin cups in our hand
As we all stand by the cook's tent door
As dried mummies of hard crackers
Are handed to each man.
O, hard tack, come again no more!
Chorus:
'Tis the song, the sigh of the hungry:
"Hard tack, hard tack,
Come again no more."
Many days you have lingered
Upon our stomachs sore.
O, hard tack, come again no more!

2. 'Tis a hungry, thirsty soldier
Who wears his life away
In torn clothes, his better days are o'er.
And he's sighing now for whiskey
In a voice as dry as hay,
"O, hard tack, come again no more!"
Chorus:

3. 'Tis the wail that is heard
In camp both night and day,
'Tis the murmur that's mingled with each snore.
'Tis the sighing of the soul
For spring chickens far away,
"O, hard tack, come again no more!"
Chorus:

4. But to all these cries and murmurs,
There comes a sudden hush
As frail forms are fainting by the door,
For they feed us now on horse feed
That the cooks call mush!
O, hard tack, come again once more!
Chorus:
'Tis the dying wail of the starving:
"O, hard tack, hard tack,
Come again once more!"
You were old and very wormy,
But we pass your failings o'er.
O, hard tack, come again once more!


Hardtack was made of flour and water, shaped into a square biscuit. Other names include "worm castle", "sheet iron cracker", and "teeth duller". To eat it, you had to bust it up with your rifle butt or a handy rock; put it in your mouth and leave it there until it became soft(er). The staple "food" for both armies all through the war.

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