Time for another tale of Private Sam Watkins of the First Tennessee Infantry.
It was 1863. Sam was in Chattanooga, preparing for the arrival of Grant’s army. That included fortifying Lookout Mountain (see photo above).
Sam tells us:
“About this time my father paid me a visit. Rations were mighty scarce. I was mighty glad to see him, but ashamed to let him know how poorly off for something to eat we were. We were living on parched corn.”
Parched corn is a lot like those partly popped kernels in your popcorn, only a lot more tender. It’s easy to make: just take dried corn kernels and roast them over a fire. Oh, and corn was a lot better in those days.
Anyway, Sam wanted to give his father a good dinner, so he took him over to the colonels’ tent:
“Colonel Field, I desire to introduce you to my father, and as rations are a little short in my mess, I thought you might have a little better, and could give him a good dinner.“
“’Yes,” says Colonel Field, ‘I am glad to make the acquaintance of your father, and will be glad to divide my rations with him. Also, I would like you to stay and take dinner with me,” which I assure you, O kind reader, I gladly accepted.”
So there they were in the Confederate Colonel Field’s tent, Sam eager for a good meal. Then Whit, the orderly, arrived:
“Whit came in with a frying-pan of parched corn and dumped it on an old oil cloth, and said, ‘Dinner is ready.’ That was all he had. He was living like ourselves—on parched corn!”
Ah, dinner with the Colonel!