Early 1860s to 1882 – The Weather Bureau Established in the War Department



Intermittent weather observations were taken by military personnel, both Federal and Confederate, during the War Between the States, 1861-1865. Chronicles of battles in the Jackson and Vicksburg campaigns of May 1863 describe heavy rains and roads that subsequently became “rivers of mud”. The war devastated Jackson, which was little more than a collection of charred chimneys (hence the nickname Chimneyville) at the conclusion of the war in 1865.

The Weather Bureau was created on February 9, 1870, when a Joint Congressional Resolution requiring the Secretary of War "to provide for taking meteorological observations at the military stations in the interior of the continent and at other points in the States and Territories..." was signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant.

The Weather Bureau operated under the War Department. U.S. Army surgeons took weather observations in Jackson from May 1873 through December 1876 (based on the NCDC database). Surgeons at Army forts usually took weather observations at the post hospitals. Weather Bureau documents state the hospital (and observations) was located at the southeast corner of Hooker and Willow Streets. U.S Army Surgeon documents only stated, “The military post of Jackson occupies an elevated spot of about 15 acres to the west and adjoining the corporate limits of the city.” The documents also stated that water had to be hauled around one mile from the Pearl River. The intersection of Hooker and Willow Streets is approximately one mile west of the Pearl River.
A weather observing gap existed between December 31, 1876 (last observations by the Army surgeons) and April 1, 1882 when cotton region observations were first available (in the NCDC database).
Much of this history is comprised of information from research done by Mr. Murray W. Smith, prepared in 1949 and Gary Grice, prepared on 2006.

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