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Civil War reenactment: Union occupation and a Confederate soldier goes home, 1865

In this video, a Confederate soldier making his way home at the end of the Civil War is stopped by Union soldiers at a checkpoint, then cooks for them in exchange for a day’s rations. A transcription of the video is below.


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Video Transcript

Soldier (00:13)
Looking for rations.

Guard (00:16)
Okay, let me see your papers. Let me show this to my commanding officer. Sir.

Commanding officer (00:32)
Where are you headed, soldier?

Soldier (00:34)
Catawba County, sir, in the mountains.

Commanding officer (00:38)
Well it looks like everything’s in order.

Soldier (00:40)
Thank you, sir.

Commanding officer (00:40)
Good luck to you.

Soldier (00:42)
Thank you.

Soldier (01:03)
I’m on my way home as a paroled soldier. As I walk through into the Union camp and show them my parole papers, I am issued rations to get home. These gentlemen here have asked me if I would cook for them, they would issue me enough rations to get me to my next place. I can also use my parole paper as a train ticket. If there was a train around, I could use it, and take a train back home, but there’s no trains running from here to the mountains, going back up to Catawba county. Right now I’m just cutting up some potatoes and onions. I’m going to make a big stew with a piece of side pork we got. And that way, I’ll be able to eat. Plus I feed all these gentlemen out here.

Soldier (02:54)
You have your basic ** sack, which you would be carrying your frying pan, your plate, your basic food. This is a match safe. Or just a wooden box that I acquired from home that I keep matches in to keep it safe. Twine, to keep whatever I need tied up. I have my basic gardner patterning canteen, which is a wooden canteen. Raw sugar, coffee that’s already been ground up, and here I have a — outside of it is just a poke sack. Inside I carry my cooking oil, for — to cook all my food, and if I need something else. Then you have a knife, fork and a spoon, and that’s basically what you would have to use for all your cooking utensils, and that was it, I mean this is a personal frying pan, for one person. On person would carry the frying pan. Most of the time you would be in a four-man group which is comrade in arms, which is a four-man team. Our of the four men, you would have two people carrying frying pans, and the other two would be doing prep work. Most of you have known each other since you all grew up in the same counties, and you grew up together, and you mustered in together. So it makes it a little rough when you’re going home, and you know they’re not.

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