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1863 Atlantic hurricane season

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1863 Atlantic hurricane season
1863 Atlantic hurricane season summary map.png
Season summary map
Seasonal boundaries
First system formedMay 24, 1863
Last system dissipatedSeptember 30, 1863
Strongest storm
NameOne, Two, Three, and Four
 • Maximum winds105 mph (165 km/h)
(1-minute sustained)
Seasonal statistics
Total storms9 official, 1 unofficial
Hurricanes5 official, 1 unofficial
Major hurricanes
(Cat. 3+)
Total fatalities200
Total damageUnknown
Atlantic hurricane seasons
1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865

The 1863 Atlantic hurricane season featured five landfalling tropical cyclones. In the absence of modern satellite and other remote-sensing technologies, only storms that affected populated land areas or encountered ships at sea were recorded, so the actual total could be higher. An undercount bias of zero to six tropical cyclones per year between 1851 and 1885 has been estimated.[1] There were seven recorded hurricanes and no major hurricanes, which are Category 3 or higher on the modern day Saffir–Simpson scale.[2] Of the known 1863 cyclones, seven were first documented in 1995 by José Fernández-Partagás and Henry Diaz,[3] while the ninth tropical storm was first documented in 2003.[4] These changes were largely adopted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Atlantic hurricane reanalysis in their updates to the Atlantic hurricane database (HURDAT), with some adjustments.

Although it is not officially listed in HURDAT, Hurricane Amanda, named after a ship run aground by the storm, developed in the Gulf of Mexico on May 24. First documented in 2013 by Michael Chenoweth and Cary Mock, the system capsized several other ships and caused damage along the coast of the Florida Panhandle. The cyclone made landfall near Apalachicola, Florida exceptionally early in the season, on May 28. Amanda holds the distinction of being the only known hurricane landfall in the United States in the month of May since HURDAT records began in 1851. On land and at sea, the cyclone left at least 110 fatalities. Few other storms were notable. In August, the third official storm capsized the American brig Bainbridge off Hatteras, North Carolina, drowning 80 people. The seventh official cyclone caused 10 deaths near Tampico, Tamaulipas, after the ship J.K.L. sunk.

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  • ✪ Remembering Robert E. Lee 2017 with Kenneth Noe, "Weather and Lee's Cheat Mountain Campaign"
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Welcome to our annual lecture series, Remembering Lee. We're so glad to have each of you here on the 147th anniversary of Lee's death to remember the contributions of the 11th president of Washington College. My name is Lucy Wilkins and I'm the Director of University Collections and Lee Chapel and Museum. One of the privileges of this position is to be able to tell the story of the remarkable contributions of both George Washington and Robert E. Lee and what they did to actually change higher education through the work here at this university. If you're unfamiliar with the story, I encourage you take time for one of our tours and to digest the content of our museum which was so beautifully curated by Patricia Hobbs. I'd like to recognize this morning the representatives of the United Daughters of the Confederacy who are in attendance today. The UDC has a long history of support for the chapel and we are happy to have such a good representation from the Virginia division and local Lexington as well. Our speaker today is Dr. Kenneth Noe, the Draughon Professor of Southern History at Auburn University in Alabama. He is actually a native of the Valley as he grew up in Elliston, Virginia which, if you don't know, is in Montgomery County. And he attended Shawsville High School, so welcome home, Dr. Noe. Dr. Noe received his PhD from the University of Illinois and taught at West Georgia College for 10 years before taking his current position at Auburn in 2000. Dr. Noe teaches classes on the American Civil War and Appalachian history. He is the author or editor of seven books. Two of those books on sale in our museum shop today, but I'm sorry to say, one of them is already sold out. But, we do have, and I'll give my little ad for these books today. We still have plenty of copies of this one, which is Reluctant Rebels: The Confederates Who Joined the Army in 1861. Okay. He's written many articles and essays, including articles in Civil War History and the Journal of Military History. He was a Pulitzer Prize entrant and the winner of the 2003 Kentucky Governor's Award. He holds the 2002 Peter Seaborg Book Award for Civil War non-fiction, the 1997 Tennessee History Book Award and several teaching awards. He currently serves on the advisory board of the Society of Civil War Historians, and was a consultant to the NBC series Who Do You Think You Are? Today, we will get a sneak peek at Dr. Noe's research for his upcoming book on Civil War weather. Most of us are familiar with the effect of weather on Jackson's valley campaign, and even on the plans for President Lee's funeral. But, perhaps we're not so familiar with the challenges weather presented for Lee in Western Virginia. The title of Dr. Noe's lecture today is A Storm To Destroy My Hopes: Weather and Robert E. Lee's Great Cheat Mountain Campaign. So, thank you Dr. Noe for joining today and sharing with us the benefit of your scholarship. There will be a short time for questions after Dr. Noe speaks to us. We ask that you wait until we hand you a microphone before you ask your question so it can be heard by those who are listening by live stream. So, please welcome Dr. Noe. (audience applauding) Thank you. Y'all hear me okay? Good, good. So, when I was in fourth grade, we studied the Civil War, and at the end of the year, they loaded us all up on school buses and they brought us up here. At some point, downstairs I bought, not my first book on the Civil War, but my first real book on the Civil War which is to say it didn't look like a comic book. So, it's pretty interesting for me to be up here speaking today, given that that was almost exactly 50 years ago. And for that, there's several people I want to thank. I want to thank Lucy Wilkins for inviting me. Cassie Ivey. I hope Cassie's here right now. She said she'd be in and out. There's Cassie who did a lot to coordinate my trip up here. Barton and Molly Myers for, I think, for suggesting me, but also for being great hosts. And I want to thank all of y'all for coming. I very much appreciate that. I'm going to shout out my friend Henry Brian who's sitting in the back who used to sit with on the school bus when I was a kid and drove up from Elliston today. So, that's really, really nice and I appreciate it very much. A Storm to Destroy My Hopes: Weather and Lee's Cheat Mountain Campaign. I spoke to at least three folks downstairs during the book signing who actually knew where Cheat Mountain is, and that's very exciting for me. But, if you don't know about the Cheat Mountain campaign, don't feel bad. It's the forgotten campaign, I think, of Lee's Civil War career. Is was his first one as a commander. Cheat Mountain is in West Virginia. It's right along the Randolph-Pocahontas County Line. If I was in my classroom, and had my big old PowerPoint behind me and we'd have a map of Virginia and West Virginia, and I would show you where Cheat Mountain is. But, at the very least, try to imagine, if you will, a map like that. If you take a straight edge or a ruler and set it basically on Harrisonburg. Draw a line west through the valley over the Alleghenies and it will take you almost exactly to Cheat Mountain. In the fall of 1861, Cheat Mountain was a very important part of the Confederacy, and it was an area the Confederacy could ill-afford to lose as it did. As I talk about the Cheat Mountain campaign today, they are going to be four themes that come up pretty regularly. So, let me tell you about those. First of all, most obviously, R.E. Lee himself since this is part of the Remembering Lee continuing series. His first campaign as commanding officer, as I said, I think his most neglected one, if not ignored on purpose sometimes. A second theme is one that most people don't like to talk about. It's an unpleasant theme sometimes, but I think we need to go there today, and that's the theme of failure. Lee himself considered the Cheat Mountain campaign a failure. So did many people in the Confederacy, notably the Richmond media, members of Congress, members of the Army, common Confederates around the Confederate nation. And in some ways, it nearly destroyed Lee's career before it really got started. But, I think if we analyze what happened at Cheat Mountain, if we try to understand why Lee thought his plans failed, it helps fill in some gaps. It gives us some context to understand how Lee will act as a general later in the war once he takes command of what's going to become the Army of Northern Virginia in the summer of 1862. And don't forget, when he took command of that army, after Joe Johnston was wounded at Seven Pines, he was not a popular choice. The newspapers essentially attacked Jefferson Davis for choosing someone who was best known for losing West Virginia. A general who had not done well previously. And so did many of the soldiers in that army. If we understand Cheat Mountain, we'll understand why they were concerned, and we'll also understand the reaction when Lee performed very differently during the Seven Days. A third thing that I'll touch on from time to time is the simple fact that this campaign took place in the mountains, the area that we know tend to call Appalachia. That tends to be a forgotten part of the Civil War. If you think about my fourth grade experience, remember, we had been studying the war all year, but in order to actually see some Civil War sites, they brought us up to Lexington. Clearly the assumption was that there was nothing to see in Montgomery County, or anywhere nearby. And it was only really later in my life that I learned that Federal troops had been in Blacksburg and Christiansburg in 1864. That the Confederates in that part of the county had essentially retreated down the valley road right past my house to a place called Big Hill in Roanoke County. There were Civil War markers here and there where my grandfather used to go to see friends. We got hay up one summer in Pulaski County across from the Cloyd's Mountain Battlefield. But, yet I think we all grew up with a sense that the Civil War was something that happened somewhere else. And if we think of the war as just a series of big battles fought by the major armies, it's easy to see why that sort of, I think, wrong image would develop. But, remember, the Civil War happened everywhere. Families who had loved ones off in war, enslaved people who were dreaming of freedom and then ultimately obtaining it. Guerrilla warfare, irregular warfare was ripe in the Appalachian Mountains. And for most people in that part of the world, the war would be characterized not by campaigns like Cheat Mountain, but by the everyday fear of insurgents showing up and causing some sort of trouble or worse. My friend Bart Meyers who's sitting up here near the front has just published a wonderful chapter in Wesley Moody's new book Seven Myths of the Civil War. I recommend it and it reminds us that the war was much more all-encompassing than I think we sometimes remember. And finally, I want to talk about weather because, as Lucy said, for the last six years now, almost seven, I think, I have been researching and now writing a book on weather in the American Civil War and you might wonder why. I mean, if we know about your particular favorite battle, you probably know something about the weather there. You probably know something about the flooding at Fort Henry or the sleet at Fort Donelson or the tremendous rain and red mud down on the Peninsula. You might know about the drought that occurred in the summer of 1862 that shaped the Perryville campaign in Kentucky. We all know a little bit about Civil War weather, but we tend to compartmentalize what we know. I think what I've been trying to do ultimately is connect all those dots to try to get a better sense of what weather in the Civil War looked like. How it affected the war, how it affected the armies, how it affected the home front. And I confess that the more I've learned, the more interested I have been. And from time to time, I go places and I talk more generally about Civil War weather, and I'm not going to do a lot of that today since I'm here to talk about a very specific subject. But, just to give you some more context. Let me tell you a little bit about Civil War weather 'cause I think you might find it useful, not just for the rest of my talk, but perhaps as you examine the war more closely from here on out. The big fact perhaps to take home today about Civil War weather is that it was unusual. It was not typical. It was not ordinary. In fact, Civil War weather tended to be rather extraordinary. When we left my house in Alabama yesterday, my poor wife had to drive up an hour and half from Auburn up to the Atlanta airport through what was left of, I guess at that point, Tropical Storm Nate. We've had quite a season of hurricanes down where I live. In 1862, 1863, and 1864, no hurricanes struck the American coast. That's the longest period in recorded weather history in which there were no hurricanes. Geographers like to talk about something they call the Great Civil War Drought that actually began in the late-1850s and spread across the American west. A drought so pervasive that it changed political relations out there. At one point, the Comanche empire was strong enough to stand up to both the United States Army and the Mexican Army until the drought came and the grass died and their horses died, and they couldn't fight back anymore. The fall of 1861 was exceptionally rainy. December 1861 was one of the warmest months anyone in Virginia could remember. The temperatures were regularly in the 70s and people were writing letters, "We don't know what's going on. "We have flowers blooming. "We don't know what to think about this." At the beginning of 1862, Stonewall Jackson's soldiers found out all too painfully on their way to Bath and Romney, incredible precipitation. First snow in higher elevations and then rain essentially through the first six months of war. And then, in summer, especially across the Appalachians, but certainly here in Virginia too a tremendous drought. And it happened again in 1863, and it happened again in 1864. Anybody who's ever worked on a farm, or even gardened, will immediately understand what that kind of spring rain and summer drought will do to your fields, to your garden. Now, imagine that happening across the Confederacy. Planting occurred late. Some crops rotted in the field because the fields were too wet. And what managed to survive that grew a little bit until the summer drought came and then the Confederate food supply began to die in the fields. Those same unusual weather conditions largely produced bumper crops in the American Midwest and in the Northeast. And people living in the upper Midwest had to deal with really early frosts that cost a lot of their crops. By early, I mean August 30th, 1863 in one case. But, nonetheless, Northern agriculture had produced so much that the Union never had to worry about having enough to eat. The Confederacy constantly had to worry about that. Throw in communication lines being cut, loss of railroads. Throw in the fact that some of the bread baskets of the Confederacy, like middle Tennessee, were lost early. And there was a real concern of famine. The Confederate government will have to make really tough decisions about, "Who do we feed "with what we have? "Do we feed the army? "Do we worry first about the civilian population?" Davis administration made the decision to feed the army by taking what it could from the civilian population which created all sorts of opposition and loss of support for the Confederacy. Wives writing home to their husbands about how they were going hungry. We know about the dissension. We know about the opposition. We can go down to the library here or the library over at the VMI and you can find many books, shelves of books on this so-called internalist explanation of Confederate defeat, the notion that the Confederacy fell apart from within rather than from pressure from without. And almost none of those books will tell you about this drought because historians by and large don't know anything about it. It's just not common knowledge in my field. Now, you might ask why? And the truth is meteorologists, especially those who are interested in historical meteorology, don't really know. I think every time I ask somebody, they give me a different answer. When I first started out working on this, most people assumed that is was the El Nino phenomenon which our weathermen, weatherwomen like to talk about pretty regularly on the evening news. There was a period when others pointed to the opposite, the La Nina effect. The last time I looked, I think we were back to thinking about El Nino accompanied by a similar sort of surface temper, temperature, excuse me, surface temperature oscillation out in the Atlantic. There's no agreement. What we know is that Civil War weather was incredibly unusual. And that by negatively affecting the Confederate food supply, and by positively affecting the Union food supply, in many ways, weather conditions played into the hands of the Union and helped the Lincoln Administration win the war. Certainly not the only reason. I'm not a monocausalist. I don't believe in one explanation for anything, but certainly is a factor we haven't thought much about. So, what about West Virginia? What about Cheat Mountain? I've probably already given away my punchline. And a lot of what happened in that campaign is going to be shaped by the weather in that part of West Virginia. Today, the US Department of Agr, of Energy, excuse me, Department of Energy divides the United States up into eight so-called climate zones. And a climate zone basically is determined by how many days a year you have to turn on the heater to heat your house up to a certain degree. Most of the Confederacy was in either of two of these climate zones. You live, Lexington is in one called the Mixed Humid Zone, and it was pretty darn humid yesterday as I remember. I live in Alabama. I've spent the last 28 years living in Georgia and Alabama. I live in what is called the Hot-Humid Zone. It's well-named. I mean to the point where we're starting to think about, you know, where can we retire and get out of this humidity? But, Northern West Virginia is an exception. Northern West Virginia, and that was still Virginia in 1861, of course, is part of the climate zone that runs across the Midwest and into the Northeast, into Pennsylvania and New York. It's called the Cold Climactic Zone. Winters in that zone tend to be five to 10 degrees cooler than winters in our Mixed-Humid Zone. It was colder in the mountains. The mountains tended to shield the Cheat Mountain area from any temperature oscillations caused by the Atlantic. Summers were very, very rainy. Around Cheat Mountain, they averaged about 50 inches of precipitation per year, per year with storms and flash floods. So, imagine an area that is already in a normal year. Rainy in the summer and cold in the winter. What essentially happens in 1861, something that no one is really expecting, is that the summer of 1861 was much rainier than usual. And when it turned cold, it turned cold earlier than expected and was colder than usual. And I'm going to argue in a few minutes that that has a definite effect on the Cheat Mountain campaign. And, of course, I'm going to argue at the end of the Cheat Mountain campaign, has a definite effect on the career of R.E. Lee. So, where do we start? May 26th, 1861, Union troops under the command of George McClellan who stayed behind in Ohio for a while, crossed the Ohio River into the state of Virginia. Their immediate target was the town of Grafton. Grafton was on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The B and O was the major connector between the Northeast and the Midwest. The Lincoln Administration had to have the B and O. The Confederates wanted to cut it. Confederate troops at Grafton realized immediately that they were outnumbered and they retreated without much of a fight. This by itself was a blow to the hopes of the Confederacy as it allowed the B and O to stay intact. And from time to time, generals like Stonewall Jackson would attempt to cut the B and O, but generally not for very long. The Confederates would had been at Grafton retreated to the South to the town of Philippi. Some people call it Philippi, by my aunt grew up near there and she always said Philippi, so we're going with Aunt Emma today. It's Philippi. And on June 3rd, 1861, Union and Confederate forces at Philippi fought the first land battle of the American Civil War. The first land battle of the American Civil War was not at Manassas. It was at Philippi, and it was a battle that was very much shaped by weather conditions. The Confederates at Philippi were commanded by Colonel George Porterfield. The Federals marching to Philippi were commanded by a general from Indiana named Thomas Morris. The night before the battle, Morris developed a battle plan. He was going to divide his superior force in half, more or less. He was going to attack Philippi at dawn with half of his army, but during the night, the other half was supposed to go around a mountain. Go behind Philippi, cut off the backdoor and in theory, that entire Confederate force would be captured. That night, thunderstorms occurred and they boomed all night with heavy rain. Roads turned to mud. It was a dark night. Down in Philippi, Colonel Porterfield felt so sorry for his pickets and his guards that he sent orders out essentially telling them, "Don't worry. "Come on in, sleep in your tents. "Get out of the rain. "Surely the Yankees aren't crazy enough "to attack on a night like this." And so, there were no guards out at all the next morning at dawn when Morris' Federals attacked the Confederates at Philippi. They were caught completely by surprise and they retreated in a hurry. They ended up retreating about 40 miles. The Richmond papers referred to this ever after as the Philippi Races. But if you think about it, how is it they were able to run away 40 miles? How was it that they were able to fall back? That was because that other part of Federal attack had gotten lost in the dark and bogged down in the mud and they weren't where they were supposed to be. And so, the Confederates got away from Philippi. Nonetheless, the first great defensive line of the Confederacy in Western Virginia had been broken. In Richmond, R.E. Lee suggested that it might be for the best of the service if George Porterfield was fired. The Confederate Army of the Northwest, as it was called, began it consolidate to try to establish a second defensive line and stop this Federal onslaught because there were more Federal troops coming across the river every day. They were under the command General Robert Garnett. Garnett constructed his defensive line focusing on two positions called Laurel Hill and Rich Mountain. Both of those places where important. One was on the main road south deeper into Western Virginia, and the other was on the road that crossed the Alleghenies and led to Stanton, so theoretically if you lose those roads, not only could the Federal Army penetrate deeper into West Virginia, but they could cross over into the Shenandoah. The Federals approached but slowly because it kept raining. Mud slowed down boots and wheeled vehicles, caissons, guns, wagons. And it took a while for the Federals to consolidate and move up. On July 11th, 1861, they finally struck. McClellan had just arrived. He left the battle up to his second in command, General William Rosecrans. Rosecrans attacked the Confederates at Rich Mountain, drove them off the mountain which must have been an amazing feat. Years ago, I drove up to Rich Mountain. I took the road up to the top of Rich Mountain and then I drove back down. It had been raining, and even in my car, I was terrified given how steep Rich Mountain was, especially in rainy weather. The second Confederate defensive line in West Virginia had been broken. Garnett knew that he had to retreat now and try to establish a third. He pulled back from Laurel Hill. The Federal Army pursued and two days after Rich Mountain, on July 13th, Robert Garnett was killed near Cheat Mountain. And there his army essentially stopped. This was disastrous for Confederate hopes in the West. There was now a very real possibility that Virginia and the Confederacy might lose Northwestern Virginia. And things were getting worse, not better because now another Union army was coming up the Kanawha River from the Ohio. Several thousand troops commanded by General Jacob Cox pushed into Charleston, took Charleston, kept moving past Charleston down toward the Gauley River towards Sewell Mountain. And the only Confederates around Sewell Mountain that were there to stop them were parts of two entirely small and separate forces commanded by two former Virginia governors who despised each other, Henry Wise from the Eastern Shore and John B. Floyd from Montgomery County. And they absolutely refused to cooperate with each other as they had essentially done through their entire political career. At one point, Floyd crossed the Gauley River in an attempt to block Cox. He asked Wise to come join him. Wise said, "I've read books about war. "I'm not going to fight with a river at my back." These two Confederate groups remained separated. This also was a recipe for disaster. So, what do you do? Your two defensive lines have been broken. Federals are moving deeper into West Virginia. There's another column now. You've lost Charleston. What on earth could the Davis Administration do? President Davis made two choices. He decided to send about 5,000 reinforcements into West Virginia and he sent R.E. Lee. A lot of what transpired between Davis and Lee we don't know about. A lot of it was verbal. We're not exactly sure what Davis' orders were to this day. Was he told to go out there and take command or just coordinate the other generals? But, nonetheless, Lee left Richmond. He headed to Stanton, and he went to find the Confederate Army of the Northwest. He reached Huntersville and he found them there. With the death of Robert Garnett, the Army of the Northwest was commanded by William Wing Loring largely known as a Floridian. Certainly not native to the region. And conditions in Huntersville were tough. It started raining the last week in July, and to look ahead to my conclusion in a few minutes, it kept raining well into September. Relatively few days were dry, so you have to imagine constant rain, heavy rain, mud, mire, men slipping, wagons slipping, roads becoming useless. This was the situation that R.E. Lee rode into when he arrived at Huntersville. He also discovered that Loring had already managed to alienate most of the men under his command. At one point, Loring was riding along a column of marching soldiers. And somebody said something like, "This looks like a fine body of men." And Loring replied, "Oh, they look fine, "but they're not soldiers. "You know what makes soldiers," he said. "Being able to live outside in bad weather "for months on end. "We'll find out in the spring if these men "are good soldiers or not." Well, if you heard that, it was hard to be optimistic about what you were going to be going through the next few weeks. Richard Waldrick of the 21st Virginia was one of those reinforcements sent in along with Lee. And he wrote home, "Mountains are very pretty things "when you wind along them on a railroad, "or even when riding slowly over them on horseback. "but to have to walk over three of them in one day "through mud and water, detracts very much "from their beauty." Lee arrived in Huntersville late in July and spent the next several day trying to convince William Loring to march his men up closer to Cheat Mountain. At that point, they were about 40 miles away. And Loring absolutely refused to do it. So, after several days of cajoling and trying to convince Loring to do what seemed obvious, on August 6th, Lee had enough. He took most of Loring's army, six brigades, about 5,000 men and he started marching them up himself. This place called Valley Mountain. It's about halfway between Cheat Mountain and Huntersville. And that's where Lee took the army. He saw it as a staging area for what would be, hopefully, an attack on Cheat Mountain, an attack that would stop the Federal onslaught and hopefully retake some of that lost territory. It rained on them all the way. The roads became terrible with mud. Unlike Loring, Lee at least managed to win the affections of the men under his command. A story that was often told that August and repeated many times after the war was about a young soldier who had been trying to get out of the rain, so he had sat down on a log. He had wrapped his weapon up in a blanket. He may have fallen asleep. It depends on who's telling the story. And he was found sleeping on guard duty, and his regimental officer determined that he needed to be shot as a lesson to the other men. But, they really didn't want to shoot him, so they went to see Lee about it. And Lee said, "Don't shoot him. "After all," he suggested, "it just have as easily "could have been any of us trying to get out of the rain." Now, when soldiers told the story after the war, they thought it was an example of Lee's Christian kindness and it may very well have been. But, unlike the soldiers, we have access to Lee's letters from the time. And I think there was more going on than just kindness because quite frankly, the weather was starting to get to Lee as well. He was pessimistic about his assignment. He was pessimistic about what the Confederates could accomplish. He called it a "forlorn hope expedition". His men were hungry. They were poorly equipped. They were often sick, and then there was the weather which never seemed to let up. He wrote to his wife on August 9th, "There surely is no lack of moisture at this time. "It has rained, I believe, some portion "of every day since I left Stanton. "Now it's pouring and the wind, having veered "around to every point on the compass, "has settled down to the northeast." This rain and these northeastern winds continued until August 14th, and the rain stopped for four days, but dry weather brought no relief because as a cold front moved into the Cheat Mountain area, freezing weather came with it. Ice formed all around the Confederate camp at Valley Mountain. And up on Cheat Mountain where the Federals were building a log enclosure they would call Fort Milroy. It snowed on August 14th. Let's talk about the weather being unusual in the Civil War. Colonel Robert Hatton commanded a Tennessee regiment at Valley Mountain. He wrote his wife, "We have winter on us this morning." He capitalized winter. "We have winter on us this morning. "The rain has ceased, at least temporarily, "and the wind is blowing as cold as usual "in Tennessee in November. "Have not known a more sudden change in temperature. "Yesterday, it raining and warm. "In the evening, growing cold continuing to rain. "By midnight, it was so cold that I got up "and piled on top of my cot all my coats and pants "to keep from getting cold. "The wind blows like winter. "Ice was abundant yesterday morning. "A large frost covering the ground. "To keep it all comfortable, we have to build "large log fires and keep close to them morning and night." Ice and snow in the middle of August. August 18th, it warmed up again, and of course, it started raining again. And this time, there was flooding. Hiram Chamberlain, you may have heard of Hiram Chamberlain still serving with 21st Virginia at this time, called it "some of the hardest rain I ever saw "till sundown till camp wading six or seven creeks "much more than knee-deep. "The ordinarily dry beds of streams "had become large creeks." At least one Confederate soldier, a private in the 6th North Carolina, drowned and his body washed miles down the river until it could be retrieved. The camps got so muddy and so bad at this point that a lot of Confederate units started looking for somewhere else to camp just to get out of this deep, deep mud. Robert Hatton wrote that "a Tennessee hog pen "would scarcely be more uncomfortable as a location. "We will move this evening if it will just "stop raining long enough. "For the last three weeks, we have had only "three days without rain. "It's raining now, has been since daylight. "When will it cease? "There is no calculating. "Our men, officers and all, are blue "with the balk in our enterprise occasioned by this rain." It didn't stop raining again until August 24th, and by then, the roads were nearly impassable. Supply wagons trying to get food and forage and other supplies, ammunition, up to the Confederates at Valley Mountain sank up to their ankles and could not be pulled out. Fords of streams became so impassable that no one could get across them. John Worsham described teamsters who asserted the quote, "It was hard for them to haul from Millboro "60 miles away anymore than it took "to feed their teams back and forth. "I saw dead mules lying in the road "with nothing but their ears showing above the mud." When I first started reading accounts like that, I just assumed that was hyperbole, but I have read so many of these accounts. It is clear that horses and mules thrashing about trying to get out of deep, deep mud would bury themselves in roads in every campaign where it rained a lot, up the Peninsula, certainly at Cheat Mountain. By the end of August, R.E. Lee had had about enough. He wrote home, "It rains here all the time, literally. "There has not been sunshine enough since my arrival "to dry my clothes. "It is raining now, has been all day, "last night, day before and day before that, "et cetera, et cetera, but we must be patient. "It is quite cool too. "I have on all my winter clothes "and I'm writing in my overcoat. "All the clouds seems to concentrate "over this ridge of mountains, "and by whatever wind they are driven give us rain." On September 1st, he wrote his wife, "It must be quite cold there now, "judging from the temperatures here, "and has been raining in these mountains since July 24th. "The constant cold rains with no shelter but tents "have aggravated measles. "All the drawbacks with impassable roads "have paralyzed our efforts. "The worst of the rain is that the ground has become "so saturated with water that the constant travel "on the roads has made them almost impassable "so that I cannot get up sufficient supplies "for the troops to move." As late as September 9th, the roads were still bad. Lee again wrote, "The weather is still unfavorable to us. "The roads, or rather tracks of mud, are almost impassable, "and the number of sick large." But, nonetheless, he had concluded he could no longer wait. Winter was clearly coming on. Conditions weren't going to improve, he didn't think. The day before, he wrote that last letter on September 8th. Lee decided that it was now or never. He had to march his army up to Cheat Mountain, try to drive those Federals away because if he wasn't able to do it now, he wouldn't be able to do it through the winter. So, he takes a chance. We often talk about Lee as a gambling officer. We talk about the great chances he took at places like Fredericksburg or in the Seven Days, but here we see that same quality again. The odds stacked against him, Lee decided that all he could do was attack. But, the topography was tough as the weather and the roads, and so he came up with what is in retrospect a very complicated plan that involved six separate brigades moving separately, ultimately forming three different attacking columns moving against the Federals up on Cheat Mountain and in the valley around Cheat Mountain. And because they had different distances to cross and 'cause the roads were so bad, the first Confederate column marched on September 9th, but others marched on the 10th or even the 11th. And once all of the brigades were in position, surprise attack would begin at dawn on September 12th. But because those brigades were so far from each other, the only signal would be gunfire. Once the first column attacked, the others were to listen and to move up the mountain as well. At first, there was hope. The weather seemed to cooperate. One Tennessee soldier wrote on the 9th, "Something getting out of order with the clouds. "It did not rain on us last night "to the astonishment of all." September 10th was bright and beautiful, according to one soldier, except again I quote, "The valley was wrapped in a dense fog "which extended to a certain uniform height "presenting to the view of the beholder "the appearance of a vast lake or sea "out of which the different hilltops emerged "at irregular intervals like islands." September 11th, with the Confederates out in the field moving toward Cheat Mountain, it started raining again. Roads, really mountain paths in some cases, became slick. Men, horses, mules, wagons began slipping going down steep hillsides, and occasionally guns going off. Colonel Albert Rust was a politician from Arkansas, and because of where his men were stationed at the beginning of the campaign, he was to lead the attack. He was to be the first to attack those Federals up on top of Cheat Mountain. But, trying to get his men into position was horrendous. At one point, all they could do was get into a single line. 1,500 men in a single line one after the other and pull their way up mountains grasping the belt or the coat of the man in front of them. And still, some fell and groups of them would slip down mountainsides. A soldier in the 1st Tennessee this time wrote, "The windows of the heavens were wide open "and rain and torrents fell as it never fell before "since the flood." It got so bad that at night when they camped that a bear wandered into the camp of the 1st Tennessee apparently looking for a place to get out of the rain. September 12th was the day that the attack was to begin. It was dry. It was cold and it was very foggy. The 16th Tennessee got up, realized that some of them had left their guns out in the rain during the night. They were afraid their guns wouldn't work, so they did what they normally would have done in peacetime without thinking of it. They fired off a few rounds which, of course, alerted the Federals that somebody was out there with weapons. Albert Rust moved into the valley directly in front of Fort Milroy, and there was so much fog, they couldn't see anything and they ran into Union pickets. The two sides start shooting at each other. The Union pickets run back up to Fort Milroy and alert everybody that the Confederates are coming. And the attack just completely fell apart. Inside the fort, there were about 300 men, soldiers, musicians, cooks, civilian sutlers. Every one of them grabbed a gun prepared to defend the position. Albert Rust came up with about 1,500 men, five-to-one advantage, but he didn't know that. It didn't look that way. When he got up there, his men were cold, covered with mud, exhausted. He saw what seemed to be a very dangerous Union position. And he took one look at it, and he said, "I don't think so." And he turned his men around and marched them back down the mountain without bothering to send even message to Lee of what he was doing. Down the valley, Lee waited with one of the attack columns. They waited until about 10 o'clock. By then, it was obvious that something had gone wrong. No attack was happening. Lee wasn't quite sure what to do. He didn't have any information coming from the front. He decided all he could do was retreat, fall back. For the next four days, Lee and the Army of the Northwest waited around Cheat Mountain hoping to find some opening, hoping to find some opportunity to do some damage to the Federals. But, in the end, Lee decided that was not going to happen, so the army retreated back to Valley Mountain in the rain, in the mud. A soldier from Georgia Regiment wrote it this time, "Night comes in cold and drizzly and starless. "No fires allowed by the officer of the guard. "Standing alone on an outpost in Egyptian darkness "and numbed with cold while the muffled patter "of raindrops on the fallen leaves continually suggest "the stealthy footfalls of an approaching foe. "I reached the conclusion that it subjects a man "to some inconvenience to die for his country." Lee kept the army at Valley Mountain for a week and decided that there was nothing more to be gained on the Cheat Mountain front. He left a small force just to observe. Took the rest of his army and marched south down to Sewell Mountain, down to where Floyd and Wise were. On September 10th, just as Lee was getting ready to move his men into position to attack at Cheat Mountain, the Federal Army under Cox had attacked John B. Floyd at Carnifex Ferry. And miracle of miracles, John Floyd had actually held the position and driven off these Federals, but he wasn't going to hold them off much longer. He immediately sent word begging Wise to cross the river and help. And, of course, Wise refused. Lee hoped that he could get down there and convince Floyd and Wise to combine to do something and at least something could be gained on this part of the Confederate line. He didn't have much luck. And then, the crowning moment of the bad weather season in West Virginia. On September 27th, nothing less than a category one hurricane brushed the Florida coast, came up the Atlantic coast, crossed over land in North Carolina around Jacksonville or Wilmington and drove straight into Virginia and West Virginia. Because it came so close to autumn equinox, they referred to it as the Equinoctial Storm. So, now Confederate and Federal soldiers are dealing with hurricane conditions. Lee wrote home, "It's raining heavily. "The men are all exposed on the mountain "with the enemy opposite us. "We are without tents, and for two nights, "I have lain buttoned up in my overcoat." Back on Cheat Mountain, Union Colonel John Beatty reported tents "waist-high in water "and where others stood this morning, "the water is 10 feet deep." Two men in the 6th Ohio reported drowned. "The river seems to stretch from the base "of one mountain to the other and the whole valley "is one scene of excitement." Rutherford B. Hayes, future president, on Rosecrans' staff wrote simply, "The mud and floods have pretty much ended this campaign." And it was true. On October 6th, Rosecrans decided nothing more could be accomplished in the mountains. He pulled his men back into a more compact line and ordered them to build winter quarters. Nothing could happen until spring. At the end of October, Richmond called Lee back intending to send him to South Carolina and Georgia to check on fortifications and help see to the defense of Savannah. He left knowing that he was being criticized heavily in the Richmond media. He left with a new beard that he had grown to keep his face warm during the terrible chilly conditions up on Cheat Mountain. Both his beard and now his hair turned gray. Some people said it was because of the campaign itself. He left with a crush. He had fallen in love at first sight with a horse, a big gray horse named Greenbrier ridden by one of his officers. In February of '62, he would see that officer and his horse again. And this time, he would buy the horse, rename him Traveller. I don't think he reminded of the Greenbrier Valley. And of course, Traveller's buried outside. It may have been the one positive thing that Lee brought out of West Virginia. What happened? Much had gone wrong for the Confederates at Cheat Mountain to damage Lee's reputation. Leadership failures at all levels. Think of Albert Rust. Hunger, rampant illness, old and inadequate equipment, including flintlock muskets and unforgiving terrain all played major roles. Confederate morale was low. Some critics have pointed the finger at Lee's complicated attack plan. And there's no doubt that the Federals and their officers fought well. So, if we want to understand what happened at Cheat Mountain, there are lots of obvious reasons we could talk about. But, for the Confederates, there was only one excuse to be made. John Worsham wrote, "The failure was owing more "to mud than anything else. "In all my experience of the war, "I never saw so much mud." And as far as Lee himself was concerned, knowing that he was being criticized, knowing that his assignment had fallen through his fingertips, Lee said very little about Federal soldiers or any problems with his own plans or any of those other things. To Lee, the answer was clear and simple. He wrote Governor John Letcher, "A terrible storm which lasted all night, "and in which they had to stand drenched "to the skin in the cold rain caused this. "But, for the rainstorm, I have no doubt "it would have succeeded." And he wrote his wife, "The ruler of the universe "sent a storm to disconcert a well-laid plan, "and to destroy my hopes." And for while, it seemed that that storm had destroyed his reputation and his career as well. If the Civil War had somehow ended at the end of 1861, or even if McClellan had taken Richmond, I think, in 1862, R.E. Lee would be remembered largely for the Cheat Mountain campaign. And we would not be here right now. This building would not exist. The recumbent Lee would not be behind me. This might still be Washington College if it was still open. But, we all know that's not what happened, and in part, that didn't happen because in the winter of 1861, '62 and on into the spring, the ruler of the universe, if you will, or perhaps just the patterns of a very unusual weather year decided to find another general to taunt and torment first on the Potomac and then on the Peninsula. His name was George McClellan, and in McClellan's failure, and with the chance explosion of shrapnel, R.E. Lee got a second chance after all. Thank you very much. (audience applauding) Does anyone have any questions for Dr. Noe? Yes, Suzanne? So, I found that a very refreshing and fascinating-- Well, thank you. Application of what I think of as Annales School historiographical approaches to think about something like the weather. And I just wondered whether you had any thoughts about what it is that left this lacuna for you because Annales School approaches are not new. What is it about Civil War historiography that caused to be a topic left alone until you came along to discover it? Oh, I think a lot of topics have been left to my generation and future generations. I don't know. I think we've had a tendency to study the war in terms of campaigns and battles. And so, what we do is we compartmentalize, or to use the academic phrase, we all love these phrases. We get in our silos. And so, we know about weather in this campaign or this campaign, but the notion that it might have had that sort of effect never seemed to occur to us as Civil War historians. And I don't know why because other military historians do this all the time. World War I historians do this all the time. For me, it was really just sort of by chance. I wrote a book about Perryville and I discovered this drought. And it was clear that the drought has shaped that campaign. And then, I started thinking about how I taught my classes in terms of all that rain down on the Peninsula that slowed down McClellan. And I started telling my classes, you know, "Somebody needs to write a really good book "about Civil War weather," but nobody did. So, I finally just wrote it myself. I actually think we're in an interesting period in Civil War history and at the sesquicentennial. If it did nothing else, has led to all sorts of new approaches and new interpretations of the war. In terms of what we do as historians, I think it's a pretty exciting time. And the final thing I would say is that for a long time, environmental history has existed, but it's existed entirely separately from Civil War history. Historians in one group really not having much to do with the other group. And we finally started talking to each other. There was a big conference over at the University of Georgia a few years ago. Once we started having this conversations among ourselves, we started seeing all sorts of interesting environmental history which we're just starting to scratch the surface now. I don't know if that's a good answer 'cause ultimately I don't know the answer, but it sounded good I guess. (laughing) Any other questions? I guess we'll go with the microphone. Yes, sir? On the Union, excuse me, on the Union side, officers report soldiers' letters. What did they say about the events after the fact or during? Well, during they're dealing with the same conditions if not worse. They're horrified, but they are from Indiana, Ohio. In most cases, they're at least a little used to this kind of weather. They're struck by the mountains, the steepness. They write a lot about the rain. You know, there's an incident where a regiment decided to put all its wounded and sick on an island and then this flash flood came up and they barely managed to get their guys back over. They had to build a bridge with wagons. They're equally appalled. They have the luxury throughout this campaign of essentially being on the defensive. They can hold a position rather than have to move through that mud which I think makes it a little easier for the men up at Cheat Mountain. It bogs down Jacob Cox and that other column. They will all say you know, "It was the mud "and and the rain that stopped us." And really, when you go into 1862, Cox will try again. He tries to go my part of world. He tries to penetrate along the border, the modern border, of West Virginia and Virginia because they want to cut the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad which is the main Confederate connector. They get as far as Narrows, Virginia, but mud stops them again. They're just amazed by it. They all know something unusual is happening with the weather. Civilians know that something is unusual happening with the weather. We can find all of these accounts in the official records. We just don't haven't paid much attention to them. But, they knew, and so they're writing about the same things, or as I've said, even worse conditions. The other ones are getting snowed on. There's a question up here in the front. Yes, it's like you have to think about it. You can't judge today what happened back then. You can't judge today what happened back then. You have to look at the little things, like the weather, like with D-Day. Then, you've got to go with like the trains, the horses, the mules, all this. And then, how everything was made. Yes. And then, it always has fascinated me that after the war, we didn't have property lines because they would use the post and rail fences. They were told, "You take the first rail. "You take the next rail." But, by the time you went through a whole army, there was no, I mean, our whole group camped there. To use it for firewood, for litters, for making barricades. There was nothing left. It was dry wood, ready to burn. They were tired, perfect. But, then the fence is gone. See, that's something I've always thought of that how, you know, they did the little things. And like teaching school, you've got to get them interested in something new of it. Sure. Absolutely. They're not just burning fence rails. They're sleeping on fence rails to get out of the mud. There's hundreds of new things to learn. And I appreciate the fact that she mentioned the horses and mules again. I have sort of a side project I'm working on, mostly just pulling material out of the manuscript I've already written. But, several of us are writing articles for an issue of Environmental History which is the big journal in that field. And it's going to be about animals. I think I knew this intellectually, but I'm just appalled at how many horses and mules died in this war and how they died. I mean, the current estimate is something like a million. It's massive and the way they died. And sometimes it'd be battlefield wounds, and sometimes, you know, because they weren't being fed. But, often it's in this rainy weather. And so, anytime you read any book about any campaign in the Civil War and there's rain. Think about Johnston's retreat from Manassas in '62. You just have to imagine the roads just littered with dead horses and mules, or sometimes buried horses and mules. It's just, as somebody with a farm, it's just appalling to me. But, nonetheless, that's a reality of the war, and those are horses and mules that aren't going to be around at the end of the war to plow. You think of just like a Gettysburg, the stench. Of course. The stench. I mean, the more and more I was reading about this, and we give an award at Blacksburg for the equine student. And then, I had an article that I'd gotten for the student, and professor said, "Oh, my gosh." And he made copies of it for when I gave out the award. I got into it in and the horses down there at the Museum of Fine Arts hanging out. I keep them fed too. Either you ate or the horse ate, but you needed the horse. Mm-hmm, so it's just, it's amazing just little things that come into it that we're not even thinking of that we're-- Sure and not beleaguer the point too much, but during this age of Chattanooga, the Federal Army inside Chattanooga, they not only started to run out of food, they started to run out of forage. So, they had to make decisions. "Which horses do we feed and which horses "do we let starve to death?" And so, they let the artillery horses eat and they let the others die. We'll take one more question. I'm sorry, we're running out of time. What was Lee's own assessment of his failure and how did he deal with that over time? Lee's assessment was the weather. That was it. He never questioned his own plan. Ne never criticized the soldiers. He thought he would have succeeded had it not been for the bad weather, and he always made that argument. Now, what else he was thinking? We don't know for sure. If you look at the rest of Lee's career, you'll never see him again come up with a complicated battle plan like the one he tried at Cheat Mountain. If you look at Lee after the Seven Days, and I think it took the Seven Days too. Throw Cheat Mountain into that and he becomes very intolerant of officers who don't obey their orders. He starts purging the army of people like Rust. On the Peninsula, it's somebody like John Magruder. He wants men that he can give discretionary orders to and expect them to do what's necessary. So, I think it changes his command style in a lot of ways. But, as far as what he said. He never said anything publicly. Everything he says about the failure at Cheat Mountain, he says privately in letters to the government, to his family. Thank you all so much for coming. I appreciate it. Have a wonderful afternoon. Thank you all very much. (audience applauding)



Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale

Hurricane One

Category 2 hurricane (SSHWS)
1863 Atlantic hurricane 1 track.png
DurationAugust 8 – August 9
Peak intensity105 mph (165 km/h) (1-min) 

A Category 2 hurricane was first encountered by the ship Francis B. Cutting about 630 mi (1,010 km) south-southeast of Cape Race, Newfoundland, on August 8.[3][5] With winds estimated at 105 mph (165 km/h), the storm weakened to a Category 1 hurricane several hours later as it tracked northeastward. The cyclone was last noted late on August 9.[5]

Hurricane Two

Category 2 hurricane (SSHWS)
1863 Atlantic hurricane 2 track.png
DurationAugust 18 – August 19
Peak intensity105 mph (165 km/h) (1-min) 

The ship American Congress first encountered this storm on August 18,[3] about 320 mi (510 km) south-southeast of Sable Island.[5] Reports from American Congress and other ships in the cyclone's path suggest that the storm was a Category 2 hurricane that moved east-northeastward offshore Atlantic Canada between August 18 and August 19. The hurricane caused the loss of the ship B.R. Millam, whose crew transferred to the Thebes, while the Herzogin lost several masts and sails.[3]

Hurricane Three

Category 2 hurricane (SSHWS)
1863 Atlantic hurricane 3 track.png
DurationAugust 19 – August 23
Peak intensity105 mph (165 km/h) (1-min)  975 mbar (hPa)

A hurricane was first seen by the ship Addie Barnes on August 19 in the western Atlantic Ocean, about midway between the southeastern Bahamas and Bermuda. It headed northwestward, causing heavy rains and damage to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, but remained offshore.[3] It turned northeastward and made landfall near Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, before transitioning into an extratropical cyclone.[5] Several vessels were struck by the hurricane.[3] The American brig Bainbridge capsized in the storm off Hatteras early on August 21 with the loss of 80 lives.[6] The sole survivor was picked up by the South Boston on the evening of August 22. The ship American Congress encountered this hurricane on August 22 off Georges Bank. On August 23, the Minor was wrecked on the south side of St Paul Island, off the northeastern tip of Nova Scotia. Two ships, including the Ashburton recorded a barometric pressure of 975 mbar (28.8 inHg), the lowest in relation to the storm.[3]

Hurricane Four

Category 2 hurricane (SSHWS)
1863 Atlantic hurricane 4 track.png
DurationAugust 27 – August 28
Peak intensity105 mph (165 km/h) (1-min) 

This hurricane is known from two ship reports. The steamship Dolphin, sailing from Key West to New York City, encountered a hurricane on the night of August 27 and for 18 hours thereafter.[3] Wind reports from the ship suggested that the storm was a Category 2 hurricane winds of 105 mph (165 km/h).[5] The brig Camilla was struck about 200 mi (320 km) from Sandy Hook in New Jersey on August 28 and forced to return to port for repairs.[3] The storm was last noted later that day.[5]

Hurricane Five

Category 1 hurricane (SSHWS)
1863 Atlantic hurricane 5 track.png
DurationSeptember 9 – September 16
Peak intensity80 mph (130 km/h) (1-min) 

A tropical storm was initially encountered near the Lesser Antilles on September 9 by the ship Frank W.. Later that day, the ship Mary Ann was dismasted.[3] It is estimated that the cyclone intensified into a Category 1 hurricane around 12:00 UTC on September 9, with winds reaching 80 mph (130 km/h). The system moved north-northwestward or northward for several days and closely approached Bermuda late on September 11.[5] Around that time, some ships to the southeast of the island were damaged during the storm and put into Bermuda as a result.[3] By early on September 13, the hurricane was beginning to move in a more northeasterly direction.[5] The bark Machae was dismasted on September 14.[3] The cyclone weakened to a tropical storm early the following day.[5] On September 16, the Glad Tiding last observed the storm about halfway between Newfoundland and Ireland.[3]

Tropical Storm Six

Tropical storm (SSHWS)
1863 Atlantic tropical storm 6 track.png
DurationSeptember 16 – September 19
Peak intensity70 mph (110 km/h) (1-min) 

A tropical storm formed near South Florida on September 16. Later that day, the sloop Eliza was dismantled at Matanilla Reef, about 50 mi (80 km) north of Grand Bahama.[3] Moving north-northeastward, the storm began approaching the Carolinas on September 17. The cyclone intensified and peaked with winds of 70 mph (110 km/h) that same day. Around 13:00 UTC on September 18, the system made landfall in Emerald Isle, North Carolina. Thereafter, the storm tracked rapidly north-northeastward and lost tropical characteristics near the ConnecticutMassachusettsNew York state lines early on September 19.[5]

In South Carolina, strong winds and large waves impacted the Charleston area. A number of homes were destroyed, forcing some occupants to ride out the storm completely exposed to the weather. Waves overtopped the levees, flooding army camps along the coast.[7] On September 18, two schooners were capsized in the Lower Potomac River. Crops were also destroyed in the area, while a railroad bridge was carried away. A ship was demasted off Cove Point in Chesapeake Bay on September 18.[3] Heavy rainfall in Pennsylvania resulted in flooding along the Delaware River and Lehigh Canal, especially in Easton. In Jim Thorpe, then known as Mauch Chunk, three bridges washed away, while a dam was destroyed.[8] In New York City, gale force winds were observed at harbor.[3]

Tropical Storm Seven

Tropical storm (SSHWS)
1863 Atlantic tropical storm 7 track.png
DurationSeptember 18 – September 19
Peak intensity60 mph (95 km/h) (1-min) 

On September 18, a heavy northern gale wrecked the ship Smoker on the bar at Tampico, Tamaulipas, in Mexico. On September 19, two ships were capsized, the John Howell and the J.K.L. After the latter sunk, 10 people drowned, including the captain. No specific locations are known for these shipwrecks so no complete track for this storm is known, but it was active in the western Gulf of Mexico beginning on September 18.[3] The storm made landfall early on September 19 in a rural area of Tamaulipas to the north of Tampico.[5] Based on John Kaplan and Mark DeMaria's inland decay model created in 1995, it is estimated that the cyclone dissipated several hours later.[3]

Tropical Storm Eight

Tropical storm (SSHWS)
1863 Atlantic tropical storm 8 track.png
DurationSeptember 26 – September 27
Peak intensity60 mph (95 km/h) (1-min) 

Three ships reported encountering a tropical storm on September 26 in the western Atlantic, beginning with the Horace E. Bell about 320 mi (510 km) west-southwest of Bermuda.[3][5] Data from these ships indicated that the storm peaked with winds of 60 mph (95 km/h). The storm moved rapidly north-northwestward and was last noted offshore the Mid-Atlantic early on September 27.[5]

Tropical Storm Nine

Tropical storm (SSHWS)
1863 Atlantic tropical storm 9 track.png
DurationSeptember 29 – September 30
Peak intensity70 mph (110 km/h) (1-min)  999 mbar (hPa)

A tropical storm formed offshore southeast Texas on at 00:00 UTC on September 29,[5] though the system exhibited some non-tropical characteristics.[4] Moving northeastward, the cyclone made landfall near Galveston, Texas, about twelve hours later with winds of 70 mph (110 km/h).[5] Around that time, a barometric pressure of 999 mbar (29.5 inHg) was observed in Houston, the lowest pressure in relation to the storm.[4] At 12:00 UTC, the cyclone transitioned into an extratropical cyclone over southwestern Louisiana. The remnants moved north-northeastward until dissipating over southern Mississippi on October 1.[5]

In Texas, strong winds and tree damage occurred at Sabine Pass, where the schooner Manhasett was driven ashore. The Manhasett, a Union ship, was then captured by the Confederates. In Louisiana, heavy rainfall at the Atchafalaya Basin over the course of two and a half days forced Confederate troops to remain at Morgan’s Ferry. Rainfall from the storm in New Orleans ended a drought in the city.[9]

Other systems

Proposed path of Hurricane "Amanda"
Proposed path of Hurricane "Amanda"

In addition, a tropical system developed in the Gulf of Mexico on May 24, based on analysis from Michael Chenoweth and Cary Mock in 2013. Given the name Hurricane Amanda after, a Union ship the storm washed ashore, the tropical cyclone is estimated to have intensified into a hurricane on May 27. Amanda moved northward and made landfall to the west of Apalachicola, Florida, on May 28. Early that day, the USS Amanda observed a barometric pressure of 975 mbar (28.8 inHg), the lowest in association with the cyclone. The storm weakened while moving inland, before accelerating ahead of a cold front and becoming an extratropical cyclone over Kentucky late on May 29. An extratropical low absorbed the remnants of the storm over Quebec on May 31. According to Chenoweth, Amanda is the only documented United States landfalling hurricane in the month of May since HURDAT records began in 1851.[10]

Amanda caused heavy damage in the northeast Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Panhandle. In addition to sinking the USS Amanda, several other ships encountered the storm or were also capsized. At least 38 deaths occurred at sea. In St. Marks, Florida, strong winds destroyed homes and fences,[10] as well as the salt works, ruining about 40,000 bushels of salt.[11] Storm surge inundated crops and the railroad tracks. A total of 40 people and 48 mules and oxen drowned.[10][11] An additional 32 people drowned at Dickerson Bay and Goose Creek.[10] Some coastal forts were damaged, while tents and equipment used by Confederate troops were lost.[11] In Tallahassee, heavy rainfall and severe gales were reported,[10] damaging homes and other properties.[11] The hurricane caused upward of 110 fatalities.[10]

On September 11, the ship North American reported a 'hurricane from SW' at a position that would indicate a storm centre just east of Newfoundland. No evidence of a tropical origin for this cyclone has been found.[3]

See also


  1. ^ Christopher W. Landsea (2004). "The Atlantic hurricane database re-analysis project: Documentation for the 1851–1910 alterations and additions to the HURDAT database". Hurricanes and Typhoons: Past, Present and Future. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 177–221. ISBN 0-231-12388-4.
  2. ^ Atlantic basin Comparison of Original and Revised HURDAT. Hurricane Research Division; Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (Report). Miami, Florida: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 2016. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
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