How Chicago’s Meatpacking industry excelled during the Civil War

During the American Civil-War, the Union Army’s demand for meat to feed the soldiers made the Federal Government the biggest customer ever for the meatpacking business. Meat packers in Chicago took great advantage of this demand. Chicago made big investments in industrializing the butchering of cows and pigs to meat (pun-intended) the Union Army’s demands. The return on the investment in efficient facilities was compounded by the geographic advantage that Chicago had as a result of so many railroads choosing to go there. Chicago became the center of the nations railroad system. These factors allowed Chicago to scale up the meatpacking business and win the competition against Cincinnati, Omaha, Milwaukee, Kansas City and St. Louis for the meatpacking crown of the Midwest.

Pre-existing Condition

Photo credit: Top – Meat Packing – In Illinois History / Side – PBS Food