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|The American Civil War: An Environmental View|
Jack Temple Kirby, University of Miami
©National Center for the Humanities
Leading the student discussion
(Part 4 of 6)
So ends a horrible introductory overview of our hypothetical EPA report. A deeper, longer-term analysis should probably begin by reminding students that the American Civil War was "total" war, that is, the ruthless use of force not only against enemy soldiers, but also against the capabilities of Confederate armies waging war, violence against civilians, cities, farms, animals,
the field itself. The victory solved deep national problems, consolidated the supremacy of the nation over the state, most importantly, it abolished slavery forever and freed almost four million people alive. The staggering destruction and unspeakable horror are mostly justified. The dire technological and political future of total war in the 20th century would be equally justifiable.
🇧🇷 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 In many ways, the massive damage caused by the Civil War was temporary and possibly not very significant.
Meanwhile, the long-term aspect of the second chapter of our report may come as a surprise, since the massive damage caused by the civil war was in many ways temporary and possibly not that significant. Consider the following evidence of postwar “progress” in the South: in farmland, forests, and the lumber industry.(Video) Techniques and Tools for Teaching, Learning, and Researching Online
1.farm.Despite the massive losses of young men in the South, despite the slaughter of horses and mules, and despite the destruction and destruction of thousands of farms, the South not only remained an agricultural region of global importance, but expanded rapidly its production and export of basic products. . in the postwar decades and long after. Surprisingly, the cotton harvests of the South at the end of the 19th century were three times greater than the production in the 1860s. This remarkable expansion was achieved in part through the reconstruction of antebellum farms and plantations, but more through the territorial expansion, accomplished through (1) clearing of swamp forests, particularly in the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta (mainly in the 1880s) and then beyond the Mississippi into northeastern Arkansas and southeastern Missouri; (2) deforestation of Upper Piedmont and lower mountain ranges, p. B. Northwestern Georgia and Northern Arkansas; and then (3) a massive invasion of cotton in the sub-humid Southwest: central Oklahoma and Texas, and later, in the 20th century, in the High Southern Plains themselves.
Illustrated by Frank Leslie
Zeitung, June 24, 1882
[Note the lower right part of the skull]
Library of Congress
Some postwar cotton growers were newcomers; most were black and white southerners, mobile people, some rich but most poor, descendants of large families who had survived the war and produced even larger families of their own. The population of the postwar South was growing and labor was cheap, so the heavy losses of the war were not an obstacle to tremendous economic growth. In the same way, the supply of agricultural horses and mainly mules was quickly reestablished and expanded. These were the living engines of deforestation and cotton expansion. Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee were postwar animal breeders as they were before the war, and by the turn of the 20th century, Texas emerged as the leading breeder (as well as a producer of cotton).
Library of Congress
cotton fields (Mississippi?),
"Amazingly, at the end of the 19th century, the cotton harvests of the South were three times greater than the production in the 1860s."
2.forestsEdmund Ruffin and other eastern farmers mourned the disappearance of "good" trees long before the war. they were referring tolapsedHardwood for construction, particularly fencing. The typical field cultivation system of southern farmers was to burn the forest, cultivate the new field for a few years, leave it in a succession that produced loblolly pines in most places, then return to the original soil and plant it again as gas. The deciduous trees have had little to no time to mature and shade the pines. So if we share Ruffin's assessment of deciduous over coniferous trees, much of the South has been subject to profound forest destruction for at least a thousand years, as Native Americans practiced a migratory/fire culture prior to the arrival of Europeans and Africans. The Civil War took away (we can only guess) hundreds of thousands of trees of many species, especially pines. So postwar clearing for agricultural expansion and new railroad construction (particularly in southern Appalachia) must have cost much more and probably exceeded the destruction during the war. Trees have always been enemies of civilization. Clearing mountainous terrain always results in soil erosion, another long-term environmental impact that was rarely addressed before the New Deal.
library of virginia
Loblolly pines love to be abandoned
Farmland, Virginia, 1939
“The typical system for southern farmers to switch to field work was to set fire to the forest, cultivate the new field for a few years, and leave it in your hands.
Succession, which produced loblolly pines in most places, returned to the original plot and fired again.
Still, thirty years after the Civil War, the southern forests were still so extensive that the well-organized and technologically competent US lumber industry turned southeast in the 1890s. Lagos, Frederick Weyerhauser and other entrepreneurs staked out the Pacific Northwest along with the Carolinas, the Gulf Coast, West Virginia, etc. Most of the state and national forests in what is now the South are large areas that were long ago explored and abandoned by these entrepreneurs.
Kiefern region, West Virginia,
Library of Congress “However, thirty years after the Civil War, the forests of the South were still so large that the well-organized and technologically competent American lumber industry turned to the Southeast.
in the 1890s".
3.west wood.The massive deforestation of American forests during the last third of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century was closely linked to the Civil War. The Homestead Act of 1862 unleashed the long-suppressed Yankee ambition to colonize the western territories with Midwestern-style family farms. Southern congressmen opposed the plan because they preferred an open Great Plains to slavery. When the southerners withdrew to their own Confederate Congress, the Yankee ambition was finally realized. Coincidentally, that same year a thirty-year Union War began against the Plains Indians. The bison, the dominant quadruped of the plains, was also nearly extinct, and the first transcontinental railroad was completed just four years after the end of the war.
Oklahoma City, 1889 image enlargement "Now a vast, virtually treeless landscape awaited transformation into farms and cities that required millions of linear feet of imported timber."
Library of Congress
Oklahoma City, 1910 image enlargement
Now a vast, virtually treeless landscape awaited transformation into farms and cities, requiring millions of linear feet of imported timber for homes, barns, fences (even barbed wire must be driven into posts), churches, urban buildings. of all kinds and railway sleepers. Thousands of the legendary Paul Bunyan's true lumberjack partners first covered the lawsuit from Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota; then came the Bunyan brothers from the south, black and white sons and grandsons of freed slaves and soldiers on both sides.
Bear Mountain, Pennsylvania, 1879 Library of Congress “Ultimately, it is 19th century American
The same landscape that dazzles.”(Video) Science Fiction and Contemporary American Culture
Ultimately, it is the 19th century American landscape itself that impresses. It fueled an industrial revolution that suffered massive damage from the civil war, but still had plenty of capacity to power the steamroller of railways, agriculture, and urbanism in the center of the continent. Even before the end of the civil war, the enormous costs of such construction feats were alarming to the public. Published in 1864 by George Perkins Marsh, American diplomat to Italy and former congressman from VermontMan and nature: or physical geography modified by human action, an early work still praised by ecologists today, which addressed the relationship between human beings and nature in a way that we could call ecological. Marsh's voice was not lonely either. It seems to me more than coincidental that young John Muir, already alienated from the voracity of progress, went west to the Sierras and began the nature conservation work of a lifetime with him. And Frederick Law Olmsted, already known as the co-designer of Manhattan's Central Park, spent parts of 1863 and 1864 in California studying Yosemite Valley and recommending a conservation plan to the state government. Therefore, he must see the civil war as causally related (in a larger context, of course) to the rise of modern nature conservation. This broad view leads to the ironic but serious conclusion that civil war means almost nothing and almost everything when looking at the environment.
Library of Congress
Library of Congress
Swamp, circa 1850
National Park Service
Muir, ca. 1893
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