The Minute Book
Monday, 19 October 2015

Testing Army Rations (1900)
Topic: Army Rations

Testing Army Rations (1900)

The Emergency Ones to be Put on Trial by War Department

The Deseret Evening News, Salt Lake City, Utah, 5 November 1900

Fort Reno, Okla., Nov. 4.—The board of officers detailed by the war department to find, if possible, an emergency ration that will meet all the requirements of troops engaged in active warfare while away from their base of supplies and in a hostile country where provisions are scarce, left here yesterday with a detachment of twenty-five men from Troop A, Eighth Cavalry, for experimental purposes. The men will observe the same routine as if they were engaged in an active campaign against an enemy. The members of the board are Capt. W. Fountain, Eighth Cavalry, and Capt. S.W. Foster, Fifth Cavalry. Captain and Assistant Surgeon J.D. Poindexter, stationed at Fort Reno, accompanied the expedition. A single ration is supposed to contain enough food to sustain a man a day, and in its package weighs slightly more than a pound.

The board has two emergency rations, with which it will experiment. The first is a ration prepared by the board after an examination and analysis of the food preparations used in nearly all European armies. The board's observations and conclusions are embodied in the ration, which was manufactured under its supervision.

The second is a ration produced by a company at Passaic, N.J. the New Jersey ration consists of tea in place of chocolate and a combination of meat and breadstuffs compactly arranged.

The board's own ration consists of two cakes of pure sweet chocolate, three cakes of a combination of meat and breadstuffs in compressed form, and a small quantity of salt and pepper for seasoning.

Capt. Fountain, who is president of the board, said of the experiment: "Our expedition will leave Fort Reno just as if it had been called suddenly away from its base of supplies to fight an enemy in an unknown and hostile country. The routine of daily life will approximate as closely as possible the conditions of actual warfare. Five regular field rations and five of the board's emergency rations will be issued to each man at the start. For two days the men will live on the regular army ration. On the third day this field ration will be abandoned and the men put on the emergency ration, which will be their only food for five days. The test will be as rigorous as possible, so far as food is concerned. The results will form the basis of the board's report to the war department.

"At the end of the seventh day we will reach Fort Sill. The men will still have a three days' supply of regular field rations which will be enough to carry them back to Fort Reno."

elipsis graphic

New Army Ration

Ingrediants Secret, but Believed to Include beef, Wheat, Salt and Chocolate.

The Evening News, San Jose, Cal., 12 March 1901

As a result of an exhaustive test, conducted under actual conditions of military service, and emergency ration has been obtained for the United States army superior to that used by the troops of any other nation.

That is the opinion of the board of officers designated to prepare a ration and examine others submitted and test them in comparison.

The ration which developed the greatest merit was adopted for trial by the board after the most careful consideration of the several elements comprising it. The board examined and celebrated the iron ration of Germany and the emergency ration of Great Britain. The one, in the opinion of Captain Fountain, would be eaten by men only on the verge of starvation. The other weighs more than two pounds and is consequently almost as heavy as the regular ration of the American army.

The ration of the board was tested for five days, and an equally long trial was given to two rations submitted by private persons.

The components of the ration prepared by the board have not been made public, but it is believed to contain powdered beef, parched wheat, salt and chocolate.

With a detachment of 25 men, physically fit, of Troop A, Eighth Cavalry, Captains Fountain and Foster left Fort Reno early in November and for three days lived on the regular army ration. Then officers and men started on the emergency ration test. The men were required to march 20 miles each day and perform the usual routine incident upon field service. At the expiration of the five days officers and men were weighed. The average loss of weight sustained was found to be about two pounds, and the men returned to their post in good physical condition.

Another detachment of 25 men of Troop A went out two days later under command of Captains Fountain and Foster, After three days' use of the regular army ration the test of the second emergency ration began. Cases of dysentery occurred. The test of the third emergency ration, under the same conditions, gave the same results.

In order that there might be no question as to the value of the first ration, detachments of 25 men from Fort Reno and 25 men from Fort Sill left these two posts and arranged to meet at a point equally distant under various conditions of service. They seemed to relish it and suffered no diminution of vigor.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT

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