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"To leave delightful fields for barren wilderness": Ordering Wilderness Landscapes during the American Revolution

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Abstract:

This paper explores the interactions between Continental soldiers and the Eastern Country wilderness during the Invasion of Canada in 1775. Reading the soldiers’ diaries from this expedition, one gains a sense that the enlisted men and officers of the Revolutionary Era experienced their natural surroundings on many different levels including sensual, aesthetic, material, and even scientific. These rich, and largely untapped records, produced by war, offer vibrant and varied landscape assessments that enrich our understanding of environmental history during both the Revolutionary Era and during Early Modern warfare in general. By analyzing these accounts, this article argues that the individuals who took part in the invasion – and in a broader sense, all soldiers in intimate contact with unfamiliar landscapes – can be viewed as both amateur naturalists and explores who observe, interact with, and interpret nature. Furthermore it argues that the soldiers’ relationship with nature was very complex and, interestingly, ideas about nature cut across the Revolutionary social strata, transcending rank and age, as well as societal classes. This adds to the historiography of military and environmental history in two important ways. The first is that appreciation for the natural world did not originate with urban elites during the early to mid nineteenth century, but, instead, with both rural and urban people of varying social statuses much earlier. Second is that it is incorrect to assume that individuals who experience the wilderness from a working ‘pioneer’s perspective’ are unable to appreciate unsettled landscapes.
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Association:
Name: ASEH Annual Conference
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http://aseh.net


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1170749_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Soucier, Daniel. ""To leave delightful fields for barren wilderness": Ordering Wilderness Landscapes during the American Revolution" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL, <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1170749_index.html>

APA Citation:

Soucier, D. S. ""To leave delightful fields for barren wilderness": Ordering Wilderness Landscapes during the American Revolution" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1170749_index.html

Publication Type: Panel Paper
Abstract: This paper explores the interactions between Continental soldiers and the Eastern Country wilderness during the Invasion of Canada in 1775. Reading the soldiers’ diaries from this expedition, one gains a sense that the enlisted men and officers of the Revolutionary Era experienced their natural surroundings on many different levels including sensual, aesthetic, material, and even scientific. These rich, and largely untapped records, produced by war, offer vibrant and varied landscape assessments that enrich our understanding of environmental history during both the Revolutionary Era and during Early Modern warfare in general. By analyzing these accounts, this article argues that the individuals who took part in the invasion – and in a broader sense, all soldiers in intimate contact with unfamiliar landscapes – can be viewed as both amateur naturalists and explores who observe, interact with, and interpret nature. Furthermore it argues that the soldiers’ relationship with nature was very complex and, interestingly, ideas about nature cut across the Revolutionary social strata, transcending rank and age, as well as societal classes. This adds to the historiography of military and environmental history in two important ways. The first is that appreciation for the natural world did not originate with urban elites during the early to mid nineteenth century, but, instead, with both rural and urban people of varying social statuses much earlier. Second is that it is incorrect to assume that individuals who experience the wilderness from a working ‘pioneer’s perspective’ are unable to appreciate unsettled landscapes.


 
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