Author: Kathryn Shively Meier

a doctoral candidate in American history at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. She is the author of 'Dante's Inferno': Changing Perceptions of Civil War Combat in the Spotsylvania Wilderness from 1863 to 1864

Weather during the Civil War

Weather was influential in shaping events during the American Civil War (1861–1865). For instance, concerns about weather helped determine overall strategy as well as tactics on the battlefield. Generals looked to the skies to decide when to begin spring campaigns, cursed at flooded rivers for impeding progress, and pushed their men to endure the extremes of the Southern climate. Weather also colored the war experience for soldiers and civilians. Becoming a veteran soldier meant being seasoned by the weather as much as being transformed by combat. Meanwhile, men and women in Virginia and across the nation religiously recorded meteorological events in diaries, letters, and newspapers, knowing how decisive this force of nature, so completely beyond human control, could be on wartime events.