Provisioning of the USS Constitution

Provisioning Of The USS Constitution

Provisioning of the USS Constitution

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Provisioning for sea was just as crucial if not more so in the 19th century due to the lack of modern conveniences such as refrigeration, freeze-drying and canning.

Ordered on a cruise intended to last at least six months, the USS Constitution sailed on 30 December 1813, with 485 men provisioned as follows:

"Beef was stowed on the larboard side and pork to starboard; flour, rice, and peas/beans in the wings. Stowage, as with the water casks below them, is begun from aft and worked forward. Casks in the spirit room are stowed from the forward bulkhead aft. In all cases, the largest containers are closest to the keelson, with sizes diminishing as they are laid outboard. All casks are laid bung up."

Compare this list to the provisions stocked by a modern cruise ship.

Foodstuffs may well be in the hold for months, perhaps years, and must have been unpalatable to say the least. Two hundred years ago life ashore was tough and life at sea had the advantage that at least you would get three meals a day however grim they may have been.

"Cooks in the early Navy were left to their own imaginations when it came to preparing meals. In the main, this resulted in whatever was on the official ration for that day of the week being tossed in a ship's coppers and boiled until meal time. The first official Navy cook book was produced by Paymaster F. T. Arms and published by the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts in 1902. It contained five recipes for soup, six for fish, thirty-four...... ...

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