Press Release

October 9, 2023 | By Cole Hatcher

‘The Howling Storm’

Historian to Discuss Weather’s Impact on the Civil War at Ohio Wesleyan’s Oct. 26 Smith Lecture

Kenneth Noe

DELAWARE, Ohio – The Civil War Monitor magazine proclaims historian Kenneth Noe’s book, “The Howling Storm: Weather, Climate and the American Civil War,” to be “a magnum opus that successfully challenges historians to rethink all they have ever known of the war.”

And the Emerging Civil War adds, “Never again should a battle, campaign, or event be studied without Kenneth Noe’s offering close at hand.”

Noe, Ph.D., will deliver Ohio Wesleyan University’s 2023 Richard W. Smith Lecture in Civil War History at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 26 in the Benes Rooms of Hamilton-Williams Campus Center, 40 Rowland Ave., Delaware. Admission is free. The lecture also will be available via a live web stream at

Noe is the Draughon Professor of Southern History Emeritus at Auburn University and the author or editor of eight books on the Civil War including “The Howling Storm,” a Lincoln Prize finalist in 2021 and co-winner of the 2022 Colonel Richard W. Ulbrich Memorial Book Award.

In the book, Noe explains that phenomena including El Niño and La Niña in the Atlantic Ocean disrupted weather patterns in the Civil War era, and he proposes the resulting floods and droughts affecting the South “constricted soldiers’ food supply, lowered morale, and undercut the government’s efforts to boost nationalist sentiment. By contrast, the superior equipment and open supply lines enjoyed by Union soldiers enabled them to cope successfully with the South’s extreme conditions and, ultimately, secure victory in 1865.”

In the Journal of Southern History’s review of “The Howling Storm, reviewer Brian Allen Drake states: “For too long, Kenneth W. Noe argues, historians have forgotten that among the Civil War’s most important elements were the elements – its muck and mud, dust and drought, sudden freezes and thaws, driving rain, and blistering sun. ... ‘The Howling Storm’ is a great reminder that the winds of war are often more than a metaphor.”

Twice a Pulitzer Prize entrant, Noe’s other books include “The Yellowhammer War: The Civil War and Reconstruction in Alabama,” “Reluctant Rebels: The Confederates Who Joined the Army after 1861,” and “Perryville: This Grand Havoc of Battle.”

Noe currently is researching the myths and realities of Abraham Lincoln’s tenure as Commander-in-Chief. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Emory & Henry College, master’s degrees at Virginia Tech and the University of Kentucky, and doctorate at the University of Illinois. Noe taught at Auburn University from 2000 until 2021. Learn more at

Ohio Wesleyan’s Smith Lecture in Civil War History is named in honor of Richard W. Smith, Ph.D., a retired history professor who taught at OWU between 1950 and 1986. Past speakers in the series, which began in 2002, have included Pulitzer Prize-winner James M. McPherson, author of “Battle Cry Freedom: The Civil War Era.”

Learn more about the OWU Department of History and the annual Smith Lecture at

Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers more than 70 undergraduate majors and competes in 24 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through its signature experience, the OWU Connection, Ohio Wesleyan teaches students to understand issues from multiple academic perspectives, volunteer in service to others, build a diverse and global perspective, and translate classroom knowledge into real-world experience through internships, research, and other hands-on learning. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives” and included on the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “Best Colleges” lists. Connect with OWU expert interview sources at or learn more at