George Trenholm and his entourage took to the backroads and Indian trails on their way back to South Carolina from a burning Richmond. The less-traveled routes avoided Sherman’s cavalry, desperate refugees, and murderous highwaymen all searching for the millions of dollars in Confederate gold hidden beneath the floorboards of their wagons.

On the best evenings, Anna Helen Holmes Trenholm prepared the travelers a delicious Lowcountry purloo out of rice, onions, sliced okra, and salted ham.

Anna Helen fried the ham in a heavy-bottomed black pot until brown and then added two kinds of onions and sautéed them in the ham drippings until they were soft. The ham and onions were seasoned with salt, crushed pepper, and parsley. The sliced okra was added and sautéed for another 10 minutes.

In a separate pot, Anna Helen brought some chicken stock to a boil. Rice was added and again seasoned with salt and pepper and left to simmer until the rice was tender. At that point, the ham and okra mixture was added back and fluffed together. As a special side, Anna Helen grilled some salt and peppered mushrooms that they had spotted at the base of a tree.

George Chapman Holmes moaned with pleasure at the first bite and then offered, “Sure, wish we had some shrimp in this purloo.”

His brother Thomas Henry slapped him upside the head. “Be thankful for what you got.”

To find out more about how this meal turned out read my new Civil War historical fiction novel, “Will O’ the Wisp: Madness, War, and Recompense.”

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