The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Army ration

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ARMY RATION. There are three varieties of the American army ration, garrison, field and emergency. The garrison ration is given soldiers at regularly established military posts; while the field ration is issued to troops in the field in active campaign. The emergency ration is a condensed ration, in which the best and most valuable nutritive elements are combined in the smallest bulk. In composition, the garrison and field ration are almost identical. Each ration, which is supposed to keep the soldier one day, furnishing breakfast, dinner and supper, consists of 20 ounces of fresh beef or mutton, 12 ounces of bacon, 16 ounces of canned meat or canned fish, 14 ounces of dried fish or 18 ounces of pickled fish, 18 ounces of flour or 20 ounces of corn meal, either 3/5 ounces of beans or peas or 1-3/5 ounces of rice or hominy, and either 16 ounces of potatoes or 12-4/5 ounces of potatoes together with 1-3/5 ounces of dried fruit, 1-3/5 ounces of coffee, and 3-1/5 ounces of sugar. The ration also includes small quantities of vinegar, salt, pepper, soap and candles.

Rations are usually computed by the hundred, and are issued for ten days. To a company of 100 men, would, therefore, be issued 1,000 rations. In the field, each soldier is supposed to carry one regular ration and one emergency ration all the time. The emergency ration is never eaten, except in case of last resort, and the regular ration is issued every day.

The army ration, it will be seen, contains none of those things which are ordinarily considered luxuries. For instance, there is no milk included in the ration, and the soldier must take his coffee black, unless he is able to purchase a can of condensed milk from the “sales store” with his “savings.” Congress has authorized the commissary to keep on hand other articles of food that are not included in the regular ration. These are kept in the “sales stores,” and are issued to the mess stewards, in return for “savings” from the regular rations. Out of a company of a hundred men there are a number who do not eat all of the articles in the ration. These would be wasted if drawn by the mess steward; therefore, when the thousand rations are issued to him, he returns to the commissary that part of the various components that he thinks will not be used. This, in the language of the army, is making a “savings” on the rations.

The value of the articles returned to the commissary is computed, and the mess steward is allowed to draw from the “sales stores” a sufficient quantity of luxuries that are not in the regular issue, equal to the value of his “saving.” The government, however, will not allow a “saving” to be made on certain articles in the ration. Fresh meat, dried or preserved fish, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, prunes, apples and peaches must be used; a “saving” cannot be made on these articles. They contain just the proper nutritive elements, and the quantities given are what the normal soldier should eat.