Fall 1864–Spring 1865
This chapter discusses not only how terrain shaped battles, but also how battles and campaigns affected the landscape for decades after the war. Armies utilized high ground, limestone formations, and dense woods to give them advantages in battle, but also engaged in massive deforestation, and reshaped the terrain with fortifications and artillery explosions. The Union campaign to capture Saltville, VA is discussed as a way of denying the South that critical resource. William Sherman’s siege of Atlanta devastated that city and led to a reshaping of its residential geography in the decades after the war due to the search for quality water and high ground. The agricultural practices of the South led to extreme soil erosion after the war. The chapter also discusses the National Park Service interpretation of Civil War battlefields, and the myriad problems with trying to present these landscapes as they were during the war.
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