RELIC FOOD CANS FROM INDIAN WARS ERA NEW MEXICO US
ARMY FORTS - FORT CUMMINGS, FT. WINGATE:
Recovered at the sites of Fort Cummings in southwest New
Mexico, and Ft. Wingate located just west of
Albuquerque, these are the 19th Century Food
Cans that were provided to the troops containing fruit,
vegetables, or potted meats.
Of the size issued at the company level, depending on
the contents, this amount would probably feed 2-4
soldiers with the contents being consumed in a single
meal. All of these cans have been opened in the same
manner – one seemingly common to the frontier period.
One end of each can was pierced, probably with a large
knife, and the tabs were bent back to access the
contents. It is worth noting that the cans were opened
on what is actually the bottom. The strengthening rings
and the solder filled vent hole in the center of the lid
is visible on each can. The canning process involved
heating the cans once filled and the lids laid in place,
and once a vacuum was created and the lid sucked down
into place, the vent hole was filled with a dab of lead
These cans are the sort of Frontier Army mess item that
rarely survived exposure to the elements. They
represent a significant concern to the private soldier
as an example of how the frontier troops were fed.
These cans would be an interesting addition to a display
of Indian War mess utensils.
I have the following cans and each is described below
with accompanying photographs and identified to the fort
where that can was found.