1. Welcome to the CivilWarTalk, a forum for questions and discussions about the American Civil War! Become a member today for full access to all of our resources, it's fast, simple, and absolutely free! If you aren't ready for that, try posting your question or comment as a guest!

Notable Civil War Weather Events

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by tmh10, Apr 4, 2013.

  1. tmh10

    tmh10 Major

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2012
    Messages:
    7,656
    Location:
    Pipestem,WV
    On Apr. 12, 1861, Confederate forces attacked Fort Sumter, S.C., eventually leading to the Union's surrender of the base.

    Although weather records and information this far back in history is hard to come by, several notable weather events during the war have survived the decades.

    The book Washington Weather chronicles two particular weather events during the War Between the States.

    On Jan. 20-23, the Union Army encountered a strong nor'easter, one that completely halted the Army of the Potomac. However, it wasn't heavy snow that stopped the troops; it was mud.
    "The weather had been fairly dry and mild for most of January and the prospects for a winter campaign seemed good," the account reads.

    Little did they know a storm was brewing southeast of them. A classic nor'easter moved up the East Coast and hit the army. Since temperatures were in the 30s, rain fell instead of snow.
    It did not take long for General Burnside's troops to be bogged down in mud. Wagons and cannons became stuck, and many soldiers fell in the mud and lost their shoes.

    The troops had no choice but to abandon their mission and return to camp. Upon their arrival, they found their shelters flooded.

    According to Washington Weather, 3.2 inches of rain fell in Washington, D.C.
    A month later, another notable weather event occurred on Feb. 25, 1863, also near Fredericksburg, Va. Prior to this date, more than a foot of snow had accumulated in the area.
    However, on Feb. 25, "sunny skies and mild temperatures softened the deep snow cover, providing ideal conditions for making snowballs."

    This weather catalyst caused the Great Snowball Battle of Rappahannock Academy. During this "battle," Confederate forces from North Carolina marched towards a camp of fellow soldiers from Georgia. Their intent was to capture their camp, and their ammunition was snowballs.
    According to Washington Weather, about 10,000 soldiers participated in the fight, and Confederate General Stonewall Jackson witnessed the battle.

    "Battle lines formed and the fight began with "severe pelting" of snowballs," the book reads. "Reinforcements arrived from all sides to assist the brigade under attack. Even the employees of the commissary joined the snowball battle. Soon, the attacking soldiers were pushed back."

    After the North Carolinians retreated, the Georgia soldiers decided to plot an attack of their own. However, upon entering the North Carolina camp, they were surprised to find their enemies with an ample supply of ammunition in their haversacks, overwhelming the Georgia troops.

    "The snowball battle came to an end and both brigades settled back into their respective camps. The captured prisoners were quickly paroled and returned to their camp, to much heckling from fellow soldiers."

    This wasn't the only snowball fight documented during the Civil War, but the Battle of Rappahannock Academy is unique due to the amount of snow, amount of participants and the complex battle strategy the soldiers used.
    http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/notable-civil-war-weather-even/48313
     
    vpp1234, reading48 and Littlestown like this.

  2. (Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
  3. RobertP

    RobertP Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2009
    Messages:
    5,937
    Location:
    on the long winding road
    Yesterday I watched a story on the news about a severe hailstorm in Houston, shattering windows in homes as well as vehicles. I've read of all sorts of weather during the CW but never about a hailstorm. Maybe it's just that the bad ones occur in tornado alley and parts of the South, away from most of the action because they surely would have been noted. The effect would have been brutal to an army in the field.
     
    Littlestown likes this.
  4. richard

    richard Sergeant

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2005
    Messages:
    923
    Location:
    central Indiana
    I can recall three weather events that took place in Tennessee. The first one started at around 3 AM as the men of Wilder bragade march south on the Manchester Pike from Murfreesboro toward Hoover's Gap. From the time the men started to they stopped it had rained for 17 days.

    Second would the winter of 1863-1864 when the tempature dropped to -29 degrees during the the battle of Mossy Creek in East Tennessee.

    Then there was the ice storm during the battle of Nashville and the rain and mud that both armys encounted during the retreat to to the Tennessee River.
     
    Bob Owen likes this.
  5. Miles Krisman

    Miles Krisman Corporal

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2012
    Messages:
    268
    On May 30, 1862, a severe line of thunderstorms delayed the Battle of Seven Pines/Fair Oaks.


    A violent rainstorm swept through the camps, uprooting trees, scattering tents, and stampeding horses and mules. In late afternoon, another fearful storm occurred with vivid displays of lightening. Tents were struck in both the Union and Confederate camps. Four soldiers of the 4th Alabama were slain by one bolt. When darkness fell, the storm intensified. In the Federal camp, bolts of lightning shattered gun carriages in the artillery park and fire leap from muzzle to muzzle of the artillery pieces.[1]

    [1]“Warrior In Gray – General Robert E. Rodes of Lee’s Army” by James W. Swisher, page 30
     
  6. phil1861

    phil1861 Corporal

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2011
    Messages:
    465
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    I chronicle this in one of my novels, but in researching the experiences of the 24th Ohio, Ammen's Brigade during the 1st Corinth campaign where a heavy rainfall washed out corduroy roads, pontoon bridges over several of the creeks that cut accross the axis of advance for Buell's corps that delayed Halleck's plans just days after he put Buell in motion. The creeks rose and cut supply lines, the marshy areas were impassable, and Halleck's snails pace was slowed even more.
     
  7. rbasin

    rbasin First Sergeant

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2013
    Messages:
    1,646
    Location:
    Tampa, Fl
    I remember watching a show that discussed a Tornado in Virginia during the war.
     
  8. DaveBrt

    DaveBrt Corporal

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2010
    Messages:
    327
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    In mid-January 1865, there was a massive rain storm over the area from Augusta to Petersburg. There are many newspaper articles about flooding in the streets of Augusta and damage to many railroads. Bridges were washed out on at least 5 railroads. The critical Piedmont RR (Greensboro to Danville) was out of operation for three weeks because of the flood damage.
     
  9. NFB22

    NFB22 First Sergeant

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2012
    Messages:
    1,376
    Location:
    Indiana
    What about the heavy seas that sank the USS Monitor?

    This a good thread, never really thought about weather during the ACW. If I do think of weather during combat I think of either the severe storm that forced the British to withdrawl from D.C. after burning it during the War of 1812 or the winter storm during the Battle of the Bulge in WWII
     
  10. Josey_Wales

    Josey_Wales Private

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2012
    Messages:
    233
    Location:
    Ohio
    I've heard this also but can't remember the source.
     
    rbasin likes this.
  11. AUG351

    AUG351 2nd Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,388
    Location:
    Texas
    The Army of Tennessee had their own snowball fight as well at Dalton, Georgia, March 22 1864 when Georgia got 5 inches of snow. Lucius Polk's Brigade attacked Gen. Daniel C. Govan's Brigade of Cleburne's Division, lining up in battle formations and throwing snowballs at each other. Patrick Cleburne himself joined in the battle and was captured and paroled twice and when it was over Cleburne authorized a ration of whiskey to the troops.
     
  12. rbasin

    rbasin First Sergeant

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2013
    Messages:
    1,646
    Location:
    Tampa, Fl
    I am pretty sure it was on the old Civil War Journal on what used to be the History Channel
     
  13. Blessmag

    Blessmag 1st Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2010
    Messages:
    4,143
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Do floods count (Arkansas 1865.):

    March 19.—Captain William H. Ransom, Company H, in command of an escort of fifty men, proceeded thirty-five miles from the mouth of White River via cutoff to Fletcher’s Landing., Arkansas River aboard steamer transport Jenny Brown for cotton. ...
    March 29-30.—Company I removed from the stockade encampment back of the riverbank to quarters constructed the first week in March upon the highest portion of the island, some fifty yards to the west of the stockade and about 100 yards northward from the steamboat landing, having been successively driven from former cabins by overflow and it had to raise the floors in the cabins, thereupon, March 29 and 30 from the continuous rise of water.
    The balance of the regiment removed from their cabins, which they built the fore part of March upon the highest ridge, 300 yards northward from the steamboat landing March 26 to a higher position against the landing, the basement of the cabins having been submerged or sluices of water running through them so as to render them successively untenable for several days previous except by shifty expedients, and it was also ousted from the latter encampment most unceremoniously Wednesday, March 29, in the rain, the river’s rise flooding this camp, also Companies E and G having been assigned the post Headquarters building, set up on two-foot blocks in course of construction non-enclosed as a place of refuge while Companies A, B, C, D, F, H and K took refuge upon the laid-up steamer Nebraska, the regiment communicating by elevated walks

    Supplement to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Edited by Janet B. Hewett, Broadfoot Publishing Company, 1995. Pp. 688-690.
     
  14. Blessmag

    Blessmag 1st Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2010
    Messages:
    4,143
    Location:
    Minnesota
    And another

    When we were at the mouth of White river, we had very strenuous times, for we were located on an island at first, but the water kept rising until there was only space enough to do our cooking, and we camped on a boat named the Hawkeye State.
    Before and After Vicksburg, Rev. J. H. Crowder, The Otterbein Press, Dayton, Ohio, 1924, p. 85.
     
  15. Blessmag

    Blessmag 1st Lieutenant

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2010
    Messages:
    4,143
    Location:
    Minnesota
    RETURN OF THE 126TH ILL. VOL.

    By telegraph from Lt. Col. Beal and Capt. Knox the people of this county were informed that our five companies, in the 126th Ill. Vol., would arrive in Rock Island Wednesday evening, the 2d inst.
    Arrangement were made by Mr. Kimball, chairman of the board of supervisors, for the Brass Band, and for a fine supper in Court Square,--also to delay the departure of the Port Byron train until 7 P.M. in order to give the boys from the upper end of the county an opportunity to join in the festivities at the court house.
    Large numbers of people were here from all parts of the county—men and women, who came to meet their friends. From Buffalo Prairie, Elgington and vicinity the farmer-turned out with their big wagons to carry the boys home. Mr. A.G. Baxter, of Elgington, with his fine martial band was on hand and during the afternoon they entertained the people in Market Square with a variety of national airs, marches, &c.
    Coal Valley also turned out in good numbers, as did also the upper end of the county.
    Just before the hour for the arrival of the train there came up a rain which materially dampened the pleasure of the reception and rendered anything like order impossible.
    A few minutes before 5 P.M. the train arrived and was welcomed with cannon, music and the loud shouts of a great crowd of people. As the boys disembarked from the cars a scene of greetings and welcomes and hand shaking, and kissing, ensued which beggars all description. The wives, sisters, daughters, and sweethearts of the soldiers were there to meet them, and the greetings were well worth witnessing. We were particularly interested in the action of two fine appearing young ladies, apparently sisters, who found a fine, manly looking fellow, we supposed to be their brother, and such shouts of welcome, such laughter, such kissing and such terms of affection and endearment we have never seen equaled. We could not learn their names, but we’ll wager a twisted nut cake that no purer love or affection ever dwelt in human breasts than that trio of brother and sisters.
    Bang went the gun and clang went the band, and off the crowd started for the court house, in the rain.

    Rock Island Weekly Argus August 9, 1865
     

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)

Share This Page