Salting the Pork
Through the nineteenth century most Western armies subsisted on salt pork. Usually this was obtained commercially. In 1812, at the height of the Peninsular War, the British Army specified what it would pay contractors for a barrel of salt pork.
|Cost of One Barrel of Salt Pork|
|Pork, 216 pounds @ 3d||£2 14s 0d|
|Processing ||1s 3d|
|Cask & Cooperage||6s 9d|
|Salt & Saltpetre||8s 6d|
|Haulage & Warehousing||1s 0d|
|Total||£3 13s 7d|
Processing involved cutting the pork into 52 pieces, each of 4 pounds, and then packing them into the cask with the salt and saltpetre. The pork had to be bought in November and required six months pickling before it could be used. The entry “interest” was there because the contractors had to advance the money to buy, pack, and store the pork, in effect advancing the Crown a loan.
And by the way, the saltpetre was there to help preserve the color of the meat, not to supress the sexual drive of the troops, a hoary myth that seems to have persisted in armies long after the use of the stuff in packing rations was discontinued.
Black American Casualties in the Gulf War
Although African-Americans comprised only about 12-percent of the total population of the United States in 1990, the number of black Americans serving in the armed forces during the 1990-1991 Gulf War – Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm was considerably higher.
|Black Americans in the Gulf War|
Because of the higher military participation ratio among black Americans, there were many claims by irresponsible politicians and social critics that African-Americans would be disproportionately numbered among the dead. In fact, this proved not to tbe the case. Whether from enemy action or accident, 291 Americans died in the Gulf War. Of these, 74-percent were white, 18-percent black, and 8-percent were everything else. So while proportionately more black Americans did die in the war in terms of the proportion of African-Americans in the population, this figure was much less than the proportion of black Americans in the armed forces, estimated at nearly a quarter. What had happened?
What the irresponsible politicians and social critics missed was what the African-Americans were doing in the armed forces. Most black men and women joined the armed forces because they offered better opportunity in a less prejudiced environment than did society as a whole. In contrast, white youngsters who enlisted usually did so in order to gain money for college or in order to have a little taste of “adventure” before settling down. So far more black personnel than white personel decided to make the armed forces their career. Which meant that African-Americans were proportionately under represented in front-line combat units.