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

Dr. Kenneth W. Noe explores how the Civil War's unusual weather affected both the battlefield and the home front. Traditional histories describe the conflict as a war between North and South. Dr. Noe suggests it should instead be understood as a war between the North, the South, and the weather. He retells the history of the conflagration with a focus on the ways in which weather and climate shaped the outcomes of battles and campaigns. Events such as floods and droughts affecting the Confederate homefront 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.

Kenneth W. Noe is the Draughon Professor of Southern History at Auburn University.

This program is part of the Community Project Grants-funded series, "Weather-Wise: Historical Records, Contemporary Conversations." For more information, please visit