Sagamite – Confederate Soldier Recipe


Recipes used to be called ‘receipts.’ Confederate soldiers published a fun book of recipes in 1863 called Confederate Receipt Book. I tried their recipe for Sagamite.

Actually, the recipe is called Indian Sagamite because it uses Indian meal. I was unable to find that type of meal at the grocery store.

blog-132Thinking that self-rising meals weren’t something the soldiers had on hand, I chose whole grain corn meal. This meal is a little coarse and grainy—possibly closer to what the Confederates used.

Combine 1 ½ cups of meal and ½ cup of brown sugar.

Those were the only ingredients listed. Since the recipe called for browning it over the fire, I knew something else had to be added to make this into a cake. (Or perhaps they ate it as crumbs, but that seems unlikely.)

I considered adding milk, water, or butter to the mixture. I decided on water because soldiers didn’t often have milk or butter.

I added ½ cup of water. This made it a bit runny, so next time I will add ¼ cup of water to make thicker cakes.

blog-139Add about a tablespoon of shortening to a skillet. Can use more if needed. When shortening melts, fry the cakes for 2 to 3 minutes on both sides over medium heat.

I enjoyed the flavor. It tastes like sweet, fried cornbread.

Soldiers ate small quantities of this while scouting—and probably on long marches. It didn’t require much to appease hunger and had the added benefit of satisfying thirst. I ate half of one of these cakes for lunch and noticed that it satisfied both my hunger and thirst. I ate a few bites of soup only because it was already cooked and didn’t need anything else. I was amazed that such a small amount of food made a meal.

If you try this, I’d love to hear if you had the same experience.

I imagined these cornbread cakes were handy on days of battle and added a scene with Sagamite in my upcoming Civil War novel, A Rebel in My House, that releases in July.

-Sandra Merville Hart


A Compilation of Over One Hundred Receipts, Adapted to the Times. Confederate Receipt Book, Applewood Books, 1863.