Last updated: February 26, 2015
- Grade Level:
- Fourth Grade-Eighth Grade
- Colonial History, Health, Mathematics, Military and Wartime History, Nutrition, Revolutionary War, Social Studies
- 20-25 minutes
- Group Size:
- Up to 24
- National/State Standards:
Gr. 4: Colonial/Rev Per., The Rev War in NYS
Gr. 5: US Hist
Gr. 7: Un. 2, Sec. 3, Cont. C; Un. 3, Sec. 4, Cont.C 1-6
Gr. 4; St. 3 D,E
Gr. 5,7,8; Era 2 St. 1 B; 2 C; 3 B,C; Era 3 St.1 C; 2 C
- Battle of Saratoga, Battles of Saratoga, Saratoga Battlefield, Revolutionary War, American Revolution, military history, history, social studies, mathematics, nutrition
OverviewFood is something everyone can relate to, in some form or another. For soldiers in the American Revolution, it was fairly simple: poor quality, and not much of it. This activity looks at what soldiers ate and how armies fed their troops.
Students will be able to:
- list four foods generally eaten by American Revolutionary War soldiers
- calculate amounts of food and water needed to supply soldiers of that time period
- develop an understanding of the hardships of life for a Revolutionary War soldier
Soldiers during the American Revolution received a daily ration of food. This was usually of low quality, and many times in minimal amounts. Accounts exist of soldiers sometimes having to go days with very little to no food at all.
For the armies trying to supply the soldiers, even these meager amounts of food and water added up, creating a major logistical challenge. How did they manage to take care of all those men? In some cases, they didn't, at least not very well. The infamous winter at Valley Forge was more a supply failure than a weather catastrophe.
Such challenges as supplying food and water for an entire army were just part of the total picture of life for soldiers in the American Revolution. Then, as now, a soldier's life is very difficult. Few of us will ever experience such extremes, but we can begin to develop an understanding of, and perhaps a respect for, what those soldiers endured.
Downloadable PDF documents:
Distribute student worksheets. Ask students what kinds of food they like, and what kinds they do not like. Use these lists to introduce the idea that, for many people in the past, and in the present, food choices were not always possible: you ate what was available. This was very much the case for soldiers in the American Revolution, as they not only had no choices, but often didn't even have enough food.
Downloadable PDF answer key available.
Whether a class is able to visit the park in person or through a virtual tour, this activity gives students a better understanding of and empathy for the hardships of soldiers in the Revolutionary War.
Have students plan a menu, using foods they enjoy, for different numbers of people.
Have a school cafeteria manager talk with the class about how school menus are planned, supplies ordered, and meals prepared.
Additional ResourcesDownloadable PDF document: Student Research Packet
VocabularyRATION --general term for the amount of food a soldier was given each day
PINT --unit of liquid measure, equal to 16 ounces, or twice the average school milk carton, or a little less than a 20-ounce bottled soft drink
SALT PORK --a portion of pork, usually of poor quality, preserved by immersion in raw salt or extremely salty water, usually for weeks or months at a time