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 Posted: Tue Feb 12th, 2008 02:19 am
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CleburneFan
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So many times one reads about battles or campaigns that were impacted by terrible weather. Some that come to mind right off hand include Lee's withdrawal from Gettysburg mired in mud caused by torrential rains on the July Fourth, 1863 and thereafter. Another example is the seventeen days of nearly constant rain faced by Sherman's and Johnston's armies as they struggled toward Atlanta in 1864. Probably should mention, too, Burnside's infamous "Mud March" in December 1862. There are numerous other examples.

What I wonder is, in these days of severe droughts throughout the South East, it is so hard to imagine so many battles, retreats and advances influenced by driving, torrential rain during the periods of 1861 to 1865.  

Has any study been done on Civil War weather? Was it an unusually rainy time? Were some of the heaviest and longest rains tail ends of tropical storms or hurricanes in the gUlf or Atllantic? I'd be very interested in a book that analyses Civil War weather and how it impacted battle outcomes. Does anybody know of one?

Even if you don't know of such a book, I'd love to hear of other examples you know of where rain-swollen rivers, mud-clogged roads or blinding rain slowed or changed the outcome of a battle or campaign, even a raid or skirmish. 



 Posted: Tue Feb 12th, 2008 06:27 am
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susansweet
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Fan I was at the discussion group at the Drum tonight.  We had read the Cunningham book on the Battle of Shiloh.  It rained badly during the battle .  Many soldiers that night slept with out protection from the pouring rain.  Mud was everywhere.

Susan



 Posted: Tue Feb 12th, 2008 09:56 am
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PvtClewell
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Fan,

This was the best I could find:

http://www.amazon.com/Civil-Weather-Virginia-Robert-Krick/dp/0817315772

I don't have the book, and it certainly appears to be localized to Virginia. But it might be a start.



 Posted: Tue Feb 12th, 2008 03:11 pm
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ole
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Fan:

Another extreme example would be Hood's attempted investment of Nashville in December, 1864. From what I understand it was unusually cold and then it rained ice.

For those of us accustomed to just going back into the house and kicking up the thermostat, it is a bit difficult to imagine that all of these guys lived outside all the time. (With the exception of some officers who could avail themselves of civilian "hospitality.")

Your question might help explain the reenactor who insists on feeling the pain. That is, if you haven't slept on the ground, on a rubber sheet, with one blanket, during a freezing rain, you haven't sampled the experience of the CW soldier.

ole

Last edited on Tue Feb 12th, 2008 03:12 pm by ole



 Posted: Tue Feb 12th, 2008 03:36 pm
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David White
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I know they were experienceing drought conditions in Mississippi during the Siege of Vicksburg and the rivers were very low that year. Getting fresh water was a problem that year and contributed to the suffering during the siege.

I think it started in the fall of 62 which was unseasonably hot.  Think about the Battle of Corinth and Perryville and its aftermarth that were fought in high heat in October.  Remember Perryville was fought for the water in Doctor's Creek which was the only source of water for miles around.

Last edited on Tue Feb 12th, 2008 03:38 pm by David White



 Posted: Tue Feb 12th, 2008 04:04 pm
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javal1
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Ole mentioned Nashville, but let's not forget that but for a rain-swollen river (the Harpeth), and the washing away of bridges because of it, the whole tragedy of Franklin would never have happened.



 Posted: Tue Feb 12th, 2008 07:27 pm
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CleburneFan
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Thanks to all of you. I know about the rain-soaked Shiloh misery and the ice storm at Nashville that sealed Hood's fate after Franklin. I can appreciate that because we had an ice storm nearly every winter I lived in Nashville. Whenever I read about Franklin and Nashville, I try to imagine being barefoot, poorly clothed, having eaten only a moldy, stale biscuit and then marching and fighting in frightful frigid winds and ice. How on Earth did they do it?

If I were lots younger I'd research weather and the Civil War. I'd particularly like to know if there were any weather abnormalities such as La Nina or El Nino events. 

Hey! I have a timely question. Does anybody recall a battle, campaign, skirmish or raid that was impacted by a tornado? I don't recall having ever read about such a situation, but the armies did fight at times of the year when tornados would typically hit.

YIKES! Coincidentally, I just looked at the TV. We in Palm Beach County are right now under a tornado watch! I hope we have better luck than Javal had last week.  



 Posted: Tue Feb 12th, 2008 07:33 pm
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susansweet
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Fan stay safe!!!!

Susan



 Posted: Tue Feb 12th, 2008 07:38 pm
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CleburneFan
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PvtClewell wrote: Fan,

This was the best I could find:

http://www.amazon.com/Civil-Weather-Virginia-Robert-Krick/dp/0817315772

I don't have the book, and it certainly appears to be localized to Virginia. But it might be a start.


Wow! I checked that out. The price new is over $37.00. There are used ones available however. It looks like the kind of book I want even though it is specific to one theater of operations. Thanks, Pvt Clewell.

Maybe I should start a collection of such books and compile my own collection of Civil War events impacted by severe weather be it drought, heat, ice, rain, floods or whatever. I'm interested also in one theory I read somewhere that all the smoke of large battles such as Gettysburg and the monstrous artuillery barrage just before Picket's Charge actually CAUSED the rain. That needs lots of research. It might require a meteorologist to study or explain why or why not that is true.



 Posted: Tue Feb 12th, 2008 07:44 pm
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CleburneFan
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Susan, thanks. I am not too worried. Tornados sued to be very rare down here, but they have reared their ugly heads a few times in the last few years. I'm more worried about my sister in Sebring. Hubby would tell you I am too mean to have a tornado hit. :X(But I haven't been mean enough to keep hurricanes away.:shock:)



 Posted: Wed Feb 13th, 2008 01:30 am
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susansweet
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Fan one of the books I am reading is Acoustic Shadow.  I can't remember the author and the book is in my car .  It talks about how weather had an effect on the carrying of sound .

Susan



 Posted: Thu Feb 14th, 2008 04:00 pm
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David White
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Also the final batttle of the New Mexico Camapign at Peralta was fought in a raging sandstorm.



 Posted: Thu Feb 14th, 2008 10:56 pm
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CleburneFan
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A sandstorm! That could stop anybody. I was in one in Phoenix many years ago. That has to be one of the most unusual weather phenomenon in the Civil War. Thanks for telling me about that.



 Posted: Thu Feb 14th, 2008 11:02 pm
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Don
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I've heard really good things about the Krick book, but haven't personally read it. I also remember reading (but not, unfortunately, the source) that the winters of 1863 and particularly 1864 were exceptionally cold and brutal.



 Posted: Fri Feb 15th, 2008 01:44 am
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Dixie Girl
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lets just sum it up .... weather conditions during the civil war sucked big time.

it was either to rainy, to dry, to muddy, to cold, to hot, to swampy, you name it and it sucked. on the occasion that it might be just right the soldiers were either in battle, or marching, or foraging.

they probably never had time to just sit and enjoy it.



____________________
War Means Fighting And Fighting Means Killing - N. B. Forrest When war does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard." Stonewall Jackson


 Posted: Fri Feb 15th, 2008 02:42 pm
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CleburneFan
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You have that pretty much right, Dixie Girl, but on the matter of "enjoying" if that word would be fitting...I have read accounts especially by generals who had it better than lowly foot soldiers did, about the evenings when encamped. Sherman wrote about how he enjoyed the smell of the campfires, for example. 

Others wrote about soldiers singing and the bands would play. Some soldiers or junior officers would serenade their commanders. Soldiers would play cards or other games (if their religion allowed it.)

It does seem that in the midst of so much carnage, horror, dread together with longing for home and family, the men were able to find moments of peace and tranquility if ever so brief.



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