Henry Steele Commager was an American historian of the type with a faith in nationalism. His textbook, The Growth of the American Republic, was standard at one time. It is from a book he edited--The Civil War archive: the history of the Civil War in documents, that we are drawing a cat glimpse. Commager quotes from the diary of a Southerner during the war, (John Beauchamp Jones) about the scarcity of food. This is April 8, 1864:
What enormous appetites we have now, and how little illness, since food has become so high in price...Today Custis's parrot, which has accompanied the family in all their flights, and it seems, will never die, stole the cook's ounce of fat meat and gobbled it up before it could be taken from him. He is permitted to sit at one corner of the table and has lately acquired a fondness for meat. The old cat goes staggering about from debility, although Fannie often gives him her share. We see neither rats nor mice around the premises now. This is famine. Even the pigeons watch the crusts in the hands of the children and follow them in the yard."