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Traditional histories of the Civil War describe the conflict as a war between North and South. Kenneth W. Noe suggests it should instead be understood as a war between the North, the South, and the weather. In The Howling Storm, Noe retells the history of the conflagration with a focus on the ways in which weather and climate shaped the outcomes of battles and campaigns. Traditional histories of the Civil War describe the conflict as a war between North and South. Kenneth W. Noe suggests it should instead be understood as a war between the North, the South, and the weather. In The Howling Storm, Noe retells the history of the conflagration 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 Ni�o, La Ni�a, and similar oscillations in the Atlantic Ocean disrupted weather patterns across southern states. Taking into account these meteorological events, Noerethinks conventional explanations of battlefield victories and losses, compelling historians to reconsider long-held conclusions about the war. Unlike past studies that fault inflation, taxation, and logistical problems for the Confederate defeat, 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. The Howling Storm stands as the first comprehensive examination of weather and climate during the Civil War. Its approach, coverage, and conclusions are certain to reshape the field of Civil War studies.


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Traditional histories of the Civil War describe the conflict as a war between North and South. Kenneth W. Noe suggests it should instead be understood as a war between the North, the South, and the weather. In The Howling Storm, Noe retells the history of the conflagration with a focus on the ways in which weather and climate shaped the outcomes of battles and campaigns. Traditional histories of the Civil War describe the conflict as a war between North and South. Kenneth W. Noe suggests it should instead be understood as a war between the North, the South, and the weather. In The Howling Storm, Noe retells the history of the conflagration 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 Ni�o, La Ni�a, and similar oscillations in the Atlantic Ocean disrupted weather patterns across southern states. Taking into account these meteorological events, Noerethinks conventional explanations of battlefield victories and losses, compelling historians to reconsider long-held conclusions about the war. Unlike past studies that fault inflation, taxation, and logistical problems for the Confederate defeat, 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. The Howling Storm stands as the first comprehensive examination of weather and climate during the Civil War. Its approach, coverage, and conclusions are certain to reshape the field of Civil War studies.

32 review for The Howling Storm: Weather, Climate, and the American Civil War

  1. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    A meticulously detailed look at weather during the Civil War, this book was fascinating. The author argues that weather was as much a factor in the conflict as the opposing armies were. The result is a day by day reconstruction of weather trends based on local observations and first hand soldier recollections. The only complaint I have about this book is that there are many typos. A revised edition with a better proofreading is called for. Other than that, it was a great book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    John

    The Howling Storm analyzes the role of weather during the Civil War. The book covers every theater of the war, not just the eastern theater. Kenneth Noe analyzes and argues that weather played a significant part in the war. For example, Irwin McDowell's army was slow to get to Manassas because of terrible weather. Noe writes, "Northern Virginia’s climate, however, most troubled McDowell. Intense heat and frequent violent thunderstorms characterize Julys in the state, with the hottest week of the The Howling Storm analyzes the role of weather during the Civil War. The book covers every theater of the war, not just the eastern theater. Kenneth Noe analyzes and argues that weather played a significant part in the war. For example, Irwin McDowell's army was slow to get to Manassas because of terrible weather. Noe writes, "Northern Virginia’s climate, however, most troubled McDowell. Intense heat and frequent violent thunderstorms characterize Julys in the state, with the hottest week of the entire year usually around the summer equinox. A La Niña event that summer would have meant even hotter than usual conditions." It also impacted the Confederates. "Confederates were on the move as well during those hot July days. Beauregard’s advance elements at Fairfax Court House initially fell back in the wake of McDowell’s approach. South Carolinian Dick Simpson, marching with that column, remembered July 17 as brutal. “The day was excessively hot and the road hilly and rocky,” he wrote. Worse, they were “double-quicked for two hours . . . having all their baggage to carry.” Some men “fainted in their tracks, while others fell from their horses. Some dropped on the road side with scarcely breath enough to keep them alive, but only one man died, he from the effects of sun stroke.” There are two criticisms I have of this book. One it does get bogged down in details and I think keeping the book shorter would have been more beneficial. Second, the writer made multiple errors. For example, during the Second Bull Run Campaign, he called John Pope Polk. Not a bad read because it was interesting and discussed campaigns that get little to no recognition.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Gregory

    Masterful treatment of the role of weather in the American Civil War. In short, it prolonged the war and made Emancipation possible.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ali Bittles

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cameron Boutin

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay Rae

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kirk

  8. 4 out of 5

    Singleton Mosby

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jon

  10. 5 out of 5

    Manray9

  11. 5 out of 5

    James Hill Welborn III

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mike Emett

  13. 4 out of 5

    Deb Montague

  14. 4 out of 5

    Eric_W

  15. 4 out of 5

    Josh Liller

  16. 5 out of 5

    J.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Adam

  18. 5 out of 5

    Chen

  19. 4 out of 5

    Elijah Gaddis

  20. 4 out of 5

    Norah

  21. 5 out of 5

    Trey F.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  24. 4 out of 5

    Henry Davis IV

  25. 4 out of 5

    David Corleto-Bales

  26. 5 out of 5

    Creighton

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

  28. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

  29. 4 out of 5

    Renata Janney

  30. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Conlon

  31. 5 out of 5

    Adam Craig

  32. 5 out of 5

    Nigel Ewan

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