By Robert C. Whisonant
This is a clean examine the yank Civil struggle from the point of view of the normal assets essential to continue the armies within the box. This tale of the hyperlinks among minerals, topography, and the battle in western Virginia now involves gentle in a manner that reinforces our knowing of America’s maximum trial. 5 mineral items – niter, lead, salt, iron, and coal – have been completely necessary to salary warfare within the 1860s. For the armies of the South, these assets have been focused within the distant Appalachian highlands of southwestern Virginia. From the start of the warfare, the Union knew that the major to victory used to be the destruction or career of the mines, furnaces, and forges positioned there, in addition to the railroad that moved the assets to the place they have been desperately wanted. to accomplish this, Federal forces again and again complex into the treacherous mountainous terrain to struggle probably the most savage battles of the warfare.
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Extra resources for Arming the Confederacy: How Virginia’s Minerals Forged the Rebel War Machine
With nearly all of the arable space in the southeastern United States coming under cultivation, many more slaves were required, rooting that practice more deeply into Southern commerce and culture. Inevitably, planters wanted to expand into untilled lands for profit and to rest the ones they owned, but a formidable topographic barrier had long stood in their way. Prior to the Revolutionary War, the Appalachian Mountains blocked the westward expansion of large estate agriculture. The few hardy pioneers who dared press on through the infrequent mountain passages set up small frontier subsistence homesteads.
Soon thereafter, however, wartime demand for coal drove output sharply higher, thereby providing the energy to fire the factories of the Virginia iron and steel industries. Miners extracted and sent east a lesser, but nonetheless valuable, amount of coal from the southwestern part of the state where semi-anthracite deposits had been worked since the late eighteenth century. Of the mineral resources essential to fight in the 1860s, “Lead was among the most vital… Without it, weapons had no ammunition” .
When the carnage mercifully ended that evening, 51,000 soldiers had been killed, wounded, or declared missing at Gettysburg. Meade’s army still held the heights etched out on the diabase intrusion and the Union was saved. Yet that topographically advantageous location had its own geological drawback that proved costly to the defenders perched on it. Because the igneous rocks are erosionally resistant, the soil is thin and the diabase crops out all along the ridge crest. With hard rock jutting out or just a few inches beneath the ground surface, the Northern troops could not dig in and fortify their lines with protective trenches and earthen walls.