An army marches on its stomach.—Napoléon Bonaparte

Compass Rose Cultural Crossroads is a small, not-for-profit publisher with specialties in history, mythology, culinary lore, and the preservation of folk traditions.

Culinary Campaign: A History of Military Cuisine with Stories, Songs, and Recipes

A World War I soldier enjoys his dinner.

A World War I soldier enjoys his dinner. Photo courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

by Lon P. Dawson with Floyd “Wes” Higgins and James Steinman

Culinary Campaign takes us back to the original thirteen colonies and the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. You’ll learn what the troops ate at Valley Forge as well as how to reproduce those meals yourself. Subsequent chapters focus on Northern and Southern provisions during the Civil War, how frontier soldiers foraged for food in the West, what the army ate at the front lines of WWI, how soldiers in Vietnam supplemented their rations packs, and even what soldiers of the future may survive on. All in all, it is a fascinating look at the role food has played in our country’s military campaigns. There are approximately 200 recipes with many stories, anecdotes, and songs to accompany them.


Culinary Campaign: A History of Military Cuisine with Stories, Songs, and Recipes
  • The Colonies: Recipes from Early America
  • Flintlocks and Fire Cakes: The American Revolution
  • Hardtack and Hog Fat: The War of 1812
  • Army Beans and Goober Peas: The Civil War
  • Frontier Rations: Westward Expansion
  • Where’s the Chow: The Spanish-American War
  • Over Here, Over There: World War I
  • Here’s the Chow: World War II
  • They Wrote the Book: the Korean Conflict
  • The Vietnam Chapter
  • Journey’s End: Food in the Modern Era
  • From Here to Eternity: What Will Our Troops Eat in the Future?

Sample Recipe

Stewed Pompion

Pumpkins, known to early settlers as pompions, were used in a variety of ways from baking to broiling to stewing. A favorite cooking method was to cut off the top in the same manner one would a jack-o’-lantern, scoop out the seeds and pumpkin guts, and pour milk into the cavity. The top was put back on and the pompion was then baked in a brick oven for six or seven hours. Fresh milk and sugar would be added, and the pumpkin meat eaten straight from the shell. Troops in the field also enjoyed pumpkins in this manner, baking them in the hot ashes of the campfire. The following is a recipe for stewed and mashed pumpkins that could be enjoyed when commodities like butter were available. It was considered “a standing dish,” eaten regularly and often.

“We arrived at Valley Forge in the evening...I lay here two nights and one day and had not a morsel of anything to eat all the time, save half of a small pumpkin, which I cooked by placing it upon a rock, the skin side uppermost, and making a fire upon it.”—Private Joseph Plumb Martin, 1777

  • 4 cups of cooked, mashed pumpkin
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground ginger
  • Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients over medium heat; serve hot.

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