Friday, July 24, 2015

What were they fighting over?

Around 20 years ago, I was bitten by the Civil War bug. I  reenacted  it, studied it, read about it, and tried to tour as many Civil War battlefields as I could. The first time I ever drove through a large part of the Civil War south was in the mid-1990's when I drove to FL. There was one common theme apparent on the trip, and it became more and more prevalent the deeper I got.

I drove to Virginia Beach for the first time in the late '90's. I saw more of the same, and it was then that I started to form an idea. We can research what caused the Civil War soldier to fight. We can research why he so heavily committed to the fight. We can research the ferocity of the fight, and we can research just about any other aspect of the war.

That is not what this post is about. What were they really fighting for? What is the common thing that is very prevalent in every southern state? They all have different names for it, and some states have more than others, but what is it?

I had put this line of thought on hold for awhile, because I hadn't traveled deep into the heart of Dixie recently, and I had never been to the true "Deep South." Columbia, South Carolina was the closest I had ever come to it.

A short time ago, I traveled to Houston . To get there, I drove through Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley. I had been there. I drove into eastern Tennessee, near Knoxville. I had been there. Then, the true adventure started.

We briefly rode through northwestern Georgia. I didn't see much, but I had previously driven I-95 south, through the entire state, and I knew Georgia had it. Then came Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and eastern Texas. It was during this part of the trip that my idea from the past resurfaced. As I went deeper into each state, the notion was reaffirmed.

The American Civil War was fought over an extremely large amount of swampland. There! I said it! There's no denying it. Of course there are mountains throughout many southern states. Of course there is farmland in many southern states. Not all of them have everything I've mentioned, such as mountains or farmland, but every southern state has an abundance of swampland.

There are many notable swamp regions. Virginia and North Carolina share possession of the Great Dismal Swamp. Georgia and Florida share the Okefenokee. Florida has sole possession of the Everglades. Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas share the bayous of the Mississippi River Delta. Tennessee has the Bald Cypress Swamp. South Carolina has the Edisto Island low country. Not to be outdone, Arkansas has the Boggy Creek swamp region.

For every swamp, such as the Everglades or the Okefenokee, that you've heard about, there are hundreds of others. Many aren't even named on the maps, and are known only to locals. 

Whether you call them bayous, swamps, marshes, creeks, lowlands, wetlands, or any other name you can think of, they are all over the Civil War South. Of course the true fighting was not over the possession of the swamps. Nevertheless, hundreds of thousands of acres of swampland comprised a large portion of the spoils of war. Got swamp? The Confederacy sure did!