During the Civil War, humans impacted plants and animals on an
unprecedented scale as soldiers on both sides waged the most
environmentally destructive war ever on American soil. Refugees and
armies alike tramped across the landscape foraging for food,
shelter, and fuel. Wild plants and animals formed barriers for
armies and carried disease, yet also provided medicine and raw
materials necessary to implement war, greatly influencing the
day-to-day life of soldiers and civilians. Of the thousands of
books written about the Civil War, few mention the environment, and
none address the topic as a principal theme. In Flora and Fauna of
the Civil War, Kelby Ouchley blends traditional and natural history
to create a unique text that explores both the impact of the Civil
War on the surrounding environment and the reciprocal influence of
plants and animals on the war effort.
The war generated an abundance of letters, diaries, and journals
in which soldiers and civilians penned descriptions of plants and
animals, sometimes as a brief comment in passing and other times as
part of a noteworthy event in their lives. Ouchley collects and
organizes these first-person accounts of the Civil War environment,
adding expert analysis and commentary in order to offer an array of
fascinating insights on the natural history of the era.
After discussing the physical setting of the war and exploring
humans' attitudes toward nature during the Civil War period,
Ouchley presents the flora and fauna by individual species or
closely related group in the words of the participants themselves.
From ash trees to willows, from alligators to white-tailed deer,
the excerpts provide glimpses of personal encounters with the
natural world during the war, revealing how soldiers and civilians
thought about and interacted with wild flora and fauna in a time of
epic historical events.
Collectively, no better sources exist to reveal human attitudes
toward the environment in the Civil War era. This one-of-a-kind
reference book will spark widespread interest among Civil War
scholars, writers, and enthusiasts, as well as environmental
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