Hardtack was generally broken up with a rock or rifle butt, placed in the cheek, and softened with saliva until it could be chewed and swallowed. It could also be soaked in water and then fried in bacon grease to produce a concoction known as "coosh." Among the many nicknames attached to this military delicacy were "sheet iron crackers," "teeth dullers," and "worm castles" (because it was frequently infested with weevils and maggots). "All the fresh meat we had come in the hard bread," wrote one soldier, "and I, preferring my game cooked, used to toast my biscuits."
Sung to the tune of Stephen Foster's song "Hard Times Come Again No More," this
parody was popular with the Army of the Potomac and may well have been sung in
Confederate camps as well--an early example of a "crossover hit."
"Hard Tack, Come Again No More"