A Taste for History: Sweet Potato Wafers Recipe

Learn about a method of cooking sweet potato that was common in the Civil War era.

| July 2018

  • Full of nutrients and easy to keep fresh, it is no wonder that this food item was useful during a time of war.
    Photo by Getty/Julia Sudnitskaya
  • “A Taste for War” by William C. Davis explores the history of Civil War cooking and shares recipes that nourished life during hard times.
    Cover courtesy of the University of Nebraska Press

A Taste for War (University of Nebraska Press, 2011), by William C. Davis, explores the culinary history of the United States’ most devastating war and reproduces recipes originating from that time. William C. Davis, a professor of history, is a renowned author of southern and civil war history books and the director of programs for the Civil War Studies at Virginia Tech. This excerpt from A Taste for War is a recipe for sweet potato wafers.


  • 2 large or 4 small sweet potatoes
  • Lard
  • Salt
  • 1/2 pound of wheat flour
  • Milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 spoonfuls of sugar


  1. “When flour is so high priced as at present, sweet potatoes can be used to great advantage in a variety of breads."
  2. Boil two large or four smaller sweet potatoes.Peel and mash them.
  3. Put in a large spoonful of lard, a little salt, and knead into them a half a pound of wheat flour.
  4. Cut into small pieces and bake in an oven as biscuits.
  5. A little milk—an egg—or one or two tablespoons of sugar may be added—at will or possession, but simply made as above they are excellent tea cakes.”

Edgefield, South Carolina, Edgefield Advertiser, March 1, 1863.

More from A Taste for War:

Excerpted from A Taste for War: The Culinary History of the Blue and Gray by William C. Davis by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. ©2003 by Stackpole Books; first Nebraska paperback printing: 2011.

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