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"The Very Devil Was In the Elements": The American Civil War, Natural Awareness, and the Beginnings of the Forest Conservation Movement
The America Civil War, natural awareness, and forests had a complex relationship. Through their mostly agrarian lifestyle, soldiers during the American Civil War demonstrated varying levels of natural awareness by writing in their diaries and letters about their daily interactions and observations of trees, agriculture, landscape, water, and destruction.
One of the greatest demonstrations of natural awareness by Civil War soldiers centered on their interactions with and observations of wood and wood products. Soldiers needed wood for fires, transportation, and fortifications. They hunted for it, and dealt with shortages of the product. By examining what diaries and letters revealed on wood, we get a better picture of the relationship between the war and the natural environment.
Besides using large amounts of wood, the Civil War also had an impact on conserving trees. The passage of the Morrill Land Grant act and the formation of a Department of Agriculture during the war helped the expansion of the Forest Conservation movement from 1865 to 1880.