Nature's Civil War: Common Soldiers and the Environment in 1862 Virginia - Civil War America (Paperback)
  • Nature's Civil War: Common Soldiers and the Environment in 1862 Virginia - Civil War America (Paperback)
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Nature's Civil War: Common Soldiers and the Environment in 1862 Virginia - Civil War America (Paperback)

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£28.95
Paperback 240 Pages / Published: 30/08/2015
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In the Shenandoah Valley and Peninsula Campaigns of 1862, Union and Confederate soldiers faced unfamiliar and harsh environmental conditions - strange terrain, tainted water, swarms of flies and mosquitoes, interminable rain and snow storms, and oppressive heat - which contributed to escalating disease and diminished morale. Using soldiers' letters, diaries, and memoirs, plus a wealth of additional 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.

Meier explores how soldiers forged informal networks of health care based on prewar civilian experience and adopted a universal set of self-care habits, including boiling water, altering camp terrain, eradicating insects, supplementing their diets with fruits and vegetables, constructing protective shelters, and most controversially, straggling. In order to improve their health, soldiers periodically had to adjust their ideas of manliness, class values, and race to the circumstances at hand. While self-care often proved superior to relying upon the inchoate military medical infrastructure, commanders chastised soldiers for testing army discipline, ultimately redrawing the boundaries of informal health care.

Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
ISBN: 9781469626499
Number of pages: 240
Weight: 525 g
Dimensions: 235 x 155 x 18 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
Filled with ideas, theories, examples and arguments that are not often found in Civil War writing about the experiences of common soldiers. . . . Highly recommended.--The Journal of America's Military Past


A captivating 'ethnographic history of soldier health, ' building a strong case for environmental determinism, a phenomenon commonly overshadowed by the 'persistent romanticizing' of the Civil War in popular culture. Recommended to Civil War history buffs and anyone interested in soldiers' adaption and survival in trying environments.--Library Journal


Meier provides remarkable insight into the social and environmental history of common soldiers at war while simultaneously posing provocative directions for further work on Civil War environmental history.--Register of the Kentucky Historical Society


An innovative, fine-grained study that blends military, medical, and environmental history in ways that transform understandings in all three fields.--Journal of American History


This well-written and compelling monograph deserves a wide audience and should be required reading for both environmental and Civil War historians.--North Carolina Historical Review


Meier's work is well written and is accessible to the general reader.--Civil War Book Review


Will prove a template for other scholars and could, very likely, inspire an entire genre within Civil War studies.--The Historian


Offers useful insight into the common soldier's difficult task of maintaining personal health amid the dual stressors of a harsh natural environment and a system of official army care which seemed a disorganized, uncaring, and frequently incompetent bureaucracy to those used to the loving attentions of home and family.--Civil War Books and Authors blog


As a commendable scholarly work with emphasis on self-care behavior, it affixes a new and welcomed aspect to the understanding of the common Civil War soldier.--Journal of the Civil War Era


By combing through the letters, diaries, and memoirs of 205 soldiers for daily struggles with fouled water, merciless weather, and lice, Kathryn Meier does the near-impossible: adds detail to Bell Wiley's justly revered Life of Johnny Reb (1943) and Life of Billy Yank (1952).--Virginia Magazine


An argument that adds to our broader understanding of the common soldier and his experiences.--Southern Historian


Well written and accessible to undergraduates. . . . Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.--Choice


Successfully refreshes the common soldier scholarship and launches a worthy discussion of their approaches to health care and the environment.--H-War


Full of clever, and sometimes surprising, observations. . . . [A] mandatory reading for anyone interested in the Civil War or environmental history.--West Virginia History


Makes several valuable contributions to our understanding of the common soldier.--H-Net Reviews


Succeeds in vividly recreating the common soldier's struggle to adjust to life in a hostile landscape with mainly his comrades and his wits to keep him alive.--Journal of Interdisciplinary History

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