Nature's Civil War: Common Soldiers and the Environment in 1862 Virginia

Time Period
1861 to 1876
Media Type
American Indian History
Civil War
Geography & Environment
Military History
Kathryn Shively Meier

On August 14 at noon, Kathryn Shively Meier delivered a Banner Lecture entitled “Nature’s Civil War: Common Soldiers and the Environment in 1862 Virginia.”

In the Shenandoah Valley and Peninsula Campaigns of 1862, Union and Confederate soldiers faced unfamiliar and harsh environmental conditions, which contributed to escalating disease and diminished morale. Using a wealth of personal accounts, medical sources, newspapers, and government documents, Kathryn Shively Meier reveals how these soldiers strove to maintain their physical and mental health by combating their deadliest enemy—nature. To survive, soldiers forged informal networks of health care based on prewar civilian experience and adopted a universal set of self-care habits, and they periodically had to adjust their ideas of manliness, class values, and race to the circumstances at hand.