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Flora and Fauna of the Civil War

During the Civil War, humans impacted plants and animals on an unprecedented scale as soldiers on both sides waged the most environmentally destructive war ever on American soil. Refugees and armies alike tramped across the landscape foraging for food, shelter, and fuel. Wild plants and animals formed barriers for armies and carried disease, yet also provided medicine and raw materials necessary to implement war, greatly influencing the day-to-day life of soldiers and civilians. Of the thousands of books written about the Civil War, few mention the environment, and none address the topic as a principal theme. In Flora and Fauna of the Civil War, Kelby Ouchley blends traditional and natural history to create a unique lecture that explores both the impact of the Civil War on the surrounding environment and the reciprocal influence of plants and animals on the war effort.

The war generated an abundance of letters, diaries, and journals in which soldiers and civilians penned descriptions of plants and animals, sometimes as a brief comment in passing and other times as part of a noteworthy event in their lives. Ouchley has collected and organised these first-person accounts of the Civil War environment, adding expert analysis and commentary in order to offer an array of fascinating insights on the natural history of the era.

After discussing the physical setting of the war and exploring humans' attitudes toward nature during the Civil War period, Ouchley will present the flora and fauna by individual species or closely related group in the words of the participants themselves. From ash trees to willows, from alligators to white-tailed deer, the excerpts provide glimpses of personal encounters with the natural world during the war, revealing how soldiers and civilians thought about and interacted with wild flora and fauna in a time of epic historical events.

Kelby Ouchley is a biologist and managed National Wildlife Refuges for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for 30 years. One of his acclaimed wetland restoration projects was recently the subject of a New York Times article. His first book, Flora and Fauna of the Civil War: An Environmental Reference Guide, was published by LSU Press in 2010. His first historical novel, Iron Branch: A Civil War Tale of a Woman In-Between, came out in August 2011. A collection of his essays, Bayou-Diversity: Nature and People in the Louisiana Bayou Country, was released by LSU Press in October 2011. Additional creative writings have appeared in literary journals and other publications. Since 1995, Kelby has written and narrated a weekly conservation-related program for the public radio station that serves the Ark-La-Miss area. He has been awarded the Louisiana Governor's Conservationist of the Year Award. Kelby has a B.S. degree in Wildlife Biology from Northeast La. Univ. and a M.S. degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Texas A&M. Kelby and his wife, Amy, live in the woods in Rocky Branch, Louisiana, in a cypress house surrounded by white oaks and black hickories. His website is

Time: 13:30 start - ends 16:30

The CSC has refurbished its Bar area and members can meet there from late morning, a variety of meals are served from 12 midday, whilst drinks and coffee are available before and after meetings.

Admission: £8 with reservations made by 4 June 2012 - contact The Treasurer for further details. Admittance cannot be guaranteed without an advance reservation.

The Venue

The Civil Service Club is situated in Great Scotland Yard, near Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross railway station, Charing Cross Underground Station (Northern and Bakerloo lines), Embankment Underground Station (Circle and District, Northern and Bakerloo lines).

How to get to The Civil Service Club: click here for website.


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