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Civil War Guide

The Civil War raged up and down the length and breadth of Virginia. Soldiers in blue and gray marched through its fields, climbed its mountains, forded its rivers and swamps, and supplemented their rations with its plants and game.

You can experience some of what those soldiers saw as they campaigned amid Virginia’s natural wonders, with the Virginia Living Museum’s “Walking Guide to Civil War Animals, Plants and Geography.”

Visitors to the Museum can use the free guide to find and appreciate indoor and outdoor exhibits that show the animals and plants the troops encountered and the geographic regions that shaped war strategy in the Old Dominion. Told in the combatants’ own words, in quotes from Civil War diaries, letters and reports, the guide relates how those animals and plants were used in the war, and how the armies dealt with the challenges they faced in different habitats.

For example, at the Museum’s Cypress Swamp exhibit the guide relates the misery of fighting in marshes where “wounded men who slumped to the ground disappeared in water.” It points out holly and tulip poplar trees that provided soldiers with tonics and fever remedies, and describes how the copperhead snake became a political symbol.

The “Walking Guide to Civil War Plants, Animals and Geography” is available in several formats. Printed guides are available at the Museum or you can listen to the audio below.


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