|View single post by HankC|
|Posted: Sun Dec 4th, 2011 08:04 pm||
|Probably the worst thing to happen to a Civil War-era town or region was to be visited by an army for an hour or a season.
the largest southern cities were dwarfed by the size of the competing armies. Charleston and Richmond each had close to 40,000 citizens. The next largest cities still in Confederate hands by mid-1862 were Mobile(30K), Savannah(22K), Petersburg(18K), Augusta(12K), Atlanta(9K) and Wilmington(9K).
in essence, the four principal southern and northern armies represented the four largest southern ‘cities’, not to mention the plethora of smaller forces of, say, 10,000 and up.
Wherever an army traveled, destruction prevailed.
Retreating armies destroyed railroads, bridges, infrastructure and supplies. Wagons, horses and men cut up roads and fields while moving, trees were felled to corduroy roads and build bridges. Wells dried as marching units drew out their water. Fields were trampled during encampments. Homes were requisitioned and their contents abused. Bodies were buried, animal carcasses left behind and equipment abandoned.
In an era of cooking and heating with wood, entire forests disappeared, not to mention fences and buildings.
The lack of refrigeration, fresh food and timely marching supplies made foraging a necessity and an art. Animals could and did eat anything available and edible. Forage sometimes became so scarce that encamped units were moved to ‘greener pastures’.
As field works became more common, the damage done by a single entrenching regiment was enormous – much more so that of an army.
At a time when hygiene was neither understood nor practiced, an army’s waste, both animal and human, littered fields, roads and streets.
Whether to a city or a crossroads, a civil war army in transit was like a plague of locusts, consuming everything in its path.