Historical Facts
During the Civil War, Jews from both sides of the conflict had to go out of their way to find matzah. Myer Levy, a union soldier from Philadelphia, wrote his family that he was strolling through the streets of a Virginia town and noticed a little boy sitting on the steps of a house, eating matzah. When he asked the boy for a piece, the child fled indoors, shouting at the top of his lungs, "Mother! There's a damn Yankee Jew outside!" The boy's mother came out immediately and invited the soldier to the seder.
Until the 1840's, American Jews would buy matzah directly from their synagogues; there, special committees were given the job of shaping them by hand into round or rectangular forms. As bakeries went into the matzah businesses in the mid-1800s, observant Jews wrote to the chief rabbi of Gleiwitz in Prussia to inquire whether it was lawful to use machinery to manufacture matzah. His affirmative response was published in the New York Asmonean on February 28, 1851.
Because of the lack of religious unity, advertisements appeared in the Jewish press throughout the country proclaiming the kashrut of one matzah over another.
After the Civil War many food businesses sprang up, including matzah bakers. In the early 1800s, Augustus Goodman, the scion of a family of matzah bakers in Posen, Poland, settled in Washington, D.C., where he became a baker for the Union Army. In 1865 he moved to Philadelphia where he opened a bakery which eventually became A. Goodman & Sons, Inc.
After the Civil War, editorials appeared in the Jewish press encouraging northerners to forget their ill feelings towards the south and provide their Jewish brethren there, many of whom had lost everything, with matzah for the seder.
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