The Civil War and Appalachia

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Eric Lane
English 1020
Tim Parker
11/9/12
The Civil War and Appalachian Geography
Did Appalachian geography have an effect on the civil war?
Every major war in history has two things in common: a winner and a loser. There are many factors of war that decide the winner and the loser, some going unnoticed. The geography of a war has an impacting affect on the war and is sometimes overlooked, often leading to one side's downfall (Falls 5). Appalachia has a fluctuating geography, for it ranges from eroded down, plain-like areas, to mountains areas of up to almost 7000 feet (“The Appalachians”). The Civil War had many battles located in Appalachia, an area stretching from southern parts of New York, all the way down to northern Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi(“The Appalachians”). Appalachian geography was home to many battlefields of the Civil War, but could this geography actually have had an overall impact?

Throughout history, many substantial wars have been disputed on various types of terrain around the world. Halvard Bugaug and Scott Gates support this and have made a claim in the article, “The Geography of Civil War”, that geographical factors play a critical role in determining how a war is fought and who will prevail. The two most important factors they give are terrain and climate. In the article, Bugaug and Gates both reference the book History of Warfare, written by John Keegan, to give examples of how these factors effect wars. Keegan gives many samples of previous generals who have ignored these factors and lead to their catastrophic downfall. One commonly known example given is the French army lead by Napoleon. Napoleon lead his fearfully large army into Russia, not taking into account Russia's fiercely cold weather. Although they fought, and won, battles located in Russia, the cold weather began to take its toll on Napoleon's army, causing them to be greatly weakened. This weakened state of his army, in turn, lead to the French being...
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