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JCWE Historian Talk - The Howling Storm: Weather, Climate, and the American Civil War
Dr. Kenneth Noe is the Draughon Professor of Southern History at Auburn University. He is the author or editor of seven books on the American Civil War. He joins the JCWE editors to discuss his latest book, The Howling Storm, and how environmental history causes us to reconsider the social and political history of the

From LSU Press: In The Howling Storm, Noe retells the history of the Civil War with a focus on the ways in which weather and climate shaped the outcomes of battles and campaigns. He further contends that events such as floods and droughts affecting the Confederate home front constricted soldiers’ food supply, lowered morale, and undercut the government’s efforts to boost nationalist sentiment. By contrast, the superior equipment and open supply lines enjoyed by Union soldiers enabled them to cope successfully with the South’s extreme conditions and, ultimately, secure victory in 1865.

Climate conditions during the war proved unusual, as irregular phenomena such as El Niño, La Niña, and similar oscillations in the Atlantic Ocean disrupted weather patterns across southern states. Taking into account these meteorological events, Noe rethinks conventional explanations of battlefield victories and losses, compelling historians to reconsider long-held conclusions about the war. His work considers how soldiers and civilians dealt with floods and droughts that beset areas of the South in 1862, 1863, and 1864. In doing so, he addresses the foundational causes that forced Richmond to make difficult and sometimes disastrous decisions when prioritizing the feeding of the home front or the front lines.

Mar 17, 2021 04:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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