The Spirit Divided: Memoirs of Civil War Chaplains, The Confederacy

The Spirit Divided: Memoirs of Civil War Chaplains, The Confederacy
John Wesley Brinfield, Jr.
2006

From the publisher:

In this anthology of Civil War memoirs, we get a clearer impression of some of the chaplains who served during that Great Conflict. Chaplains were among the most omnipresent observers on the battlefield, and some wrote extensively about their experiences. Eighty-seven of the 3,695 chaplains who served in both armies wrote regimental histories or published personal memoirs, not counting a multitude of letters and more than 300 official reports. Yet, there has never been an extensive collection of memoirs from chaplains of both the Confederate and Union armies presented together.

In this groundbreaking work, many of the Confederate chaplains write that they opposed secession and submitted to it only when war was inevitable. Moreover, some of the ministers who became chaplains were active in ministry to black slaves. They spoke out against the neglect and abuse of those held in bondage both before and during the war. For example, Reverend John L. Girardeau formed a large mission church for slaves in Charleston, South Carolina, before the war; Reverend Isaac Tichenor criticized the abuses of the slave system before the Alabama Legislature in 1863; and Chaplain Charles Oliver preached to black laborers in the Army of Northern Virginia in 1864 with the thought that more needed to be done for them. While these efforts may appear trivial in the face of the enormity of the entire slave system, they do reflect that a social conscience was not completely lacking among the Southern chaplains.

From the battlefield to the pulpit, Confederate chaplains were surprising and complex individuals. For the first time, explore this aspect of the great struggle in each chaplain’s own words.

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