We watched in fascination as Chaisson slipped up on the snake who was warming himself on a rock. His hand shot out so quickly it was a blur. Just as rapidly, he cracked the snake like a whip, breaking its neck.
“Wouldn’t it have been easier to shoot it, Chase?” Callahan asked.
He was already cutting the head off and skinning the still writhing creature. “What an’ waste all dat good meat? No, sirree Bob. Want to break de neck so not one single bite missed.”
Callahan shuddered. He was as hungry as the next man, but he wasn’t sure about eating snake. “How you going to cook that thing?”
Chaisson laughed and started cutting the body into chunks. “Why a nice big old gumbo, of course. ‘Cept no rice, or okra, or tomatoes, or nice brown roux, spices. Well, I guess we just havin’ snake soup.”
In reading the memoirs, letters, and diaries of men who rode with Stuart and Mosby particularly, hunger was a constant companion. They often survived on cakes of flour and water with a little salt if they had it, baked in fires. One of my POV characters, Callahan, calls them putty cakes.
While the locals often fed men if they could, once Lincoln approved Sherman’s scorched earth policy to starve the Southerners into submission, everything was burned leaving nothing for armies or civilians.