Having established, thanks to my very kind readers, that 30 drams = two shots, I confess that I was still a tad baffled. The historian made it clear that the increase in the liquor ration demonstrated terrible judgement on the part of the leader. Perhaps it's the ivory tower sherry drinking academic in me, but two shots a day, while not necessarily healthy, didn't sound like all that much.
Then I reread the passage in question. The men were given 30 drams at every meal. Now all is clear.
Words Written: big writing day today
Lessons Graded: fifteen (one more to go)