It was Napoleon who observed that, “An army travels on its stomach.” Of course, the little emperor observed this in the course of watching his own army — decimated by scurvy and hunger — foraging for food in the steppes of Russia.

Union Soldiers… eyeballing their next cup?More sucessful armies — like Union troops1 during the American Civil War — traveled on a steady flow of coffee:

“Even in the midst of the Civil War, there was still one thing the North and South shared — a serious addiction to caffeine. In that respect, the Union clearly had an advantage… it hoarded supplies of the highly addictive little bean, leaving the Confederacy to wage its own war against java deprivation.

“Throughout the Civil War, coffee was as prevalent on the battlefields as it is in offices today. In fact, the Union army was fueled by the stuff to the point that, if there was no time to boil water, the Boys in Blue would chew on whole beans as they marched. And at night, Union campsites were dotted with tiny fires, each boiling a pot of coffee like a million miniature Starbucks.”

This factoid is not lost on me. As it happens, I’ve long held to the idea that, given enough coffee, I could rule the world. Of course, my slogan isn’t embossed on a cannon, or inscribed on a musket. Nope… it’s stitched into a pillow that fits neatly into the small of my back as I sit typing at my keyboard. ‘Cause, to be frank, this man’s army travels on its ass.

  1. The accompanying image, by the way, is of members of the Vermont Civil War Hemlocks, a reenactment troupe I caught in action during the Waterbury Independence Day Parade this year. There’s more pictures of them on the other side of the link. []

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