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An Environmental History of the Civil War$
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Judkin Browning and Timothy Silver

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781469655383

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469655383.001.0001

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Winter 1861–Fall 1862

(p.39) Two Weather
An Environmental History of the Civil War

Judkin Browning

Timothy Silver

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter discusses the unprecedented flooding in California in 1862, as well as the heavy floods throughout the South from the Mississippi River to the Virginia peninsula, all in the midst of what scholars call the “Civil War drought.” It reveals how the weather affected the Confederate efforts to capture the western states, the Union capture of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson in Tennessee, as well as the battles of Shiloh, Corinth, the Peninsula campaign, and the battle of Perryville, KY. Focusing on Union General George McClellan’s failed campaign to capture Richmond, Virginia, it examines the environmental consequences of heavy rain on the soldiers, landscape, animals, strategies, and overall health of the armies on both sides. The weather created enormous disease environments and health hazards that brought out the worst in McClellan’s military tendencies.

Keywords:   drought, flood, mud, Civil War, Confederate, Fort Henry, Shiloh, Peninsula campaign, McClellan, Perryville

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