Stonewall Jackson’s Commissary
“The battle of Gettysburg will, no doubt, rank as the turning point of the war though perhaps it may better be called the breaking point of the South’s resources. For months our men had been on rations such as no troops ever campaigned on and did a tithe of the work ours were called on to do. Corn meal and damaged bacon were the staples, often so damaged that to live on them inured disease. Medicines, chloroform especially, had got so scarce that small operations as painful as great ones were done without it. Much of that which was used was of such bad quality that it was used as only a choice of evils.
Delicacies for the sick were unheard of. They lived on damaged bacon or lean beef or went hungry. Clothes and shoes were scant and insufficient, except for those which were taken from our friends, the enemy. Overcoats would have been almost unknown but for them, though for that matter we would have fared badly for everything but for their contributions. Certainly half our muskets and two-thirds our artillery were forced contributions from them, while
The state of affairs would appear to give compelling reasons for the much-criticized advance into Pennsylvania. With our railroad lines worn out, our ports blockaded, and the field of operations stripped by both armies, and burned and desolated by the enemy, who at last openly declared that their policy would be, as Sheridan later boasted, to leave the country so that a crow flying over it would have to carry his rations, the capture of arms, clothing, medicine, and even food, which earlier had added to our comfort, now came to be a necessity.
It looked easier to go to the enemy’s homes to get it, and to leave our poor people a chance to rest and to gather together the fragments left them.”