Civil War soldiers obsessed about coffee. The word coffee was more present in Civil War diaries than the words “war,” “bullet,” “cannon,” “slavery,” “mother” or even “Lincoln.”
As soon as the war began, the Union blockaded Southern ports and cut off the South’s access to coffee. “The Confederates had access to tobacco and Southern foods; Northern soldiers had access to coffee,” explains Andrew F. Smith, a professor of food studies at the New School in New York.
Desperate Confederate soldiers would invent makeshift coffees, Grinspan tells us, roasting rye, rice, sweet potatoes or beets until they were dark, chocolaty and caramelized.The resulting brew contained no caffeine, but at least it was something warm and brown and consoling.
See: “If War is Hell, Then Coffee Has Offered U.S. Soldiers Some Salvation” by The Kitchen Sisters on the National Public Radio website (2016)