Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Amy Taylor


This dissertation is an environmental history that studies the variety of ways that soldiers in the American Civil War experienced the pressures of weather over the course of their military service. For the troops of the U.S. and Confederacy, the weather was more than simply a passive backdrop to their time in the military, but a central preoccupation. This dissertation analyzes how weather intersected with some of the most central experiences of soldiering – tent camping and winter quarters, marching, bivouacking, manning sentry posts and field fortifications, and fighting in battles. Life in Civil War armies consisted of all of these assorted activities, with most troops engaging in many, if not, all of them. These various facets of wartime service were nowhere near as exacting and challenging when they took place in mild weather, as they were in adverse conditions such as rain or heat.

Rank-and-file U.S. and Confederate troops accumulated knowledge and experience as they soldiered that shaped the ways that they perceived, reacted, and adjusted to the weather. Though their responses were conditioned by the different aspects of military service, men devised numerous methods, using any means available, to combat inclement weather and to alleviate its difficulties and hardships. Adapting to the environment turned out to be a critical element in how common soldiers became hardened veterans. But it was not only that. Federals and Confederates strove to adapt to the weather because they connected it to their identity as men. To these troops, successfully contending with human opponents as well as meteorological adversaries proved their manhood.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

Mary B. Wright Environmental History Fellowship, Massachusetts Historical Society

Bryan Dissertation Fellowship, History Department, University of Kentucky

General and Mrs. Matthew B. Ridgway Research Grant, U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center

Summer Micro-Grant Award, Society for Military History