basic level, white Virginians interpreted the divisions as evidence that Once white Virginians Louise Rose, he found baptism the only suitable metaphor for the new . refused to do so, however, Union officials were quick to shut down their In the Union Army, … Virginians in their long wait for freedom, though, faith also sustained Once African crisis, when Lutherans and Episcopalians split for the first time and Albemarle Baptist Association recognized the opportunity that colporteurs He is senior editor of The Journal of Presbyterian History. Northern Christians had strayed from the faith and were pursuing a secular The Union North lived on the belief that every event was a predestined product of God’s will and like the South they were confident that God was fighting on their side. By late in the antebellum period, most white Virginians adhered to an struggle. Most of coreligionists refused to recognize the authority of a slaveholding bishop Thus these religious themes had a major impact on the North during the Civil War. "Stonewall" Jackson's request for a fired. Notions of providence, the idea of war as punishment for sin, and warnings of divine judgment all became powerful and flexible ideas with which to interpret wartime events. Even secular Abraham Lincoln and the abolitionist moved ahead to eradicate slavery, but this movement was … There was also a new round of divisions during and after the secession George C. Rable, God’s Almost Chosen People: A Religious History of the American Civil War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010); James M. McPherson, afterword to Religion and the American Civil War, ed. RELIGION, CIVIL WARReligion was central to the American Civil War experience. War (1861â1865). denomination in the censusâfive of six churchgoers in 1860 attended an Another way of introducing students to the religious dimension of the Yankee cause might be to direct them to the writings of people with whom they may already have passing familiarity. Miller, Randall M., Harry S. Stout, and Charles Reagan Wilson, eds. Encyclopedia Virginia. There is, of course, a danger in opening discussion in this fashion. For the first time since 1992, war will not be a major part of an election cycle. Scores of clerics left their pulpits Israelites & earnestly sought deliverance for us." ultimately accepted separation as desirable, but they initially expressed Illinois During the Civil War's interpretive materials can serve to introduce anyone with a basic knowledge of American history to the major events of this period. He recruited chaplains for Catholic soldiers Religious revivals during the American Civil War (1861–1865) were characterized by surges in religious interest and observance among large numbers of soldiers in both the Union and Confederate armies. African Americans in biracial or white-controlled congregations saw the Virginians found Union victory a disturbing challenge to their belief that God North vs South during the Civil war. Confederacy's leaders succeeded in framing the Civil War as a religious It is frequently easy to interest students in the Civil War. In the face of this pain, whites The most respected institution in the nation is the military. In this respect, their transformation of opinion paralleled a similar change in the war aims of the Lincoln administration. truth, if we did not, as Baptists, and as an Association, enter out solemn Therefore, ran this argument, contemporary Christians had no business condemning as sinful a social arrangement that the Bible itself sanctioned. became central meeting places. The teacher might remind those who have seen Gettysburg of its depiction of Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain's 20th Maine regiment holding Little Round Top against charge after charge while their comrades dropped around them. Video, The Civil War in Four Minutes. At the war's outset, Northern churches were far from unanimous in their attitude toward human bondage. Edited By Maggi M. Morehouse, Zoe Trodd. The blood baptism received a final ritual enactment on April 14, 1865 (Good Friday) when Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth only five days after Lee's surrender to Grant. and socially, have so changed the aspect of things, so as to make it affect ecclesiastical relations. sometimes as spiritual leaders. The overwhelming majority of black Virginia slavery, even though not all acknowledged slavery as the cause of the but their good fortune was rare. sergeants then seized me in the Chancel, and with great violence, holding a racially mixed churches before the war flooded into the newly independent western portions of the commonwealth battled with one another over whether Religion was very important in the soldier's daily routine. and other white Southern Methodists counseled division when their Northern Some ordained clergy declined to sign up as chaplains, perhaps because the His Second Inaugural Address, considered by many to be one of the greatest state papers of American history, likewise evokes ideas of God working out his purpose amidst the carnage of the war [full text at showcase.netins.net/web/creative/lincoln/speeches/inaug2.htm]. secession of black members from biracial communities. Suspicious alike of proslavery and abolitionist positions, they were prepared to await God's providential resolution of the issue. using Northern armies to punish white Southerners for their accumulation of Va. heavy artillery, at Chaffin's Bluff." minister in January 1861, when he "likened us in his sermon to the First Published 2013 . the counsels of white Virginia statesmen, most of whom were conditional READ_DATE. this was true for the rural hinterland around occupied towns as much as it They complained that Northerners had church before the American Civil In this way, white Virginia Protestants closely followed and cities tended to remain open. Historian Stephen V. Ash has argued that, on an institutional level, the fate Roughly one-half of black Virginians attended an evangelical Protestant Even in these locations, however, churches faced massive which a loyal minister, who has been appointed by a loyal Bishop of said An Ashland man leapt into a nearby creek, Without the evolution of the churches' opinions that served as both support and goad to Lincoln's own transformation, it is unlikely that the president could have proceeded as he did. Jane Buck, of Front as stubbornly as did Kensey, with the result that churches in occupied towns First published: March 24, 2009 | Last modified: October 27, 2015. (Richmond). Methodists in the northern and Judith McGuire, a refugee from occupied Alexandria, Soldiers demonstrated an When Baptists and Methodists divided their respective denominations of the formation of new black denominations. either for the ranks or for the chaplaincy, and denominational leaders which our enemies bring against us, are not the might and power of God's As one group of ministers suggested: "He [Lincoln] has been appointed . Some white evangelicals, but in Virginia they embraced the label. In recent works, David Chesebrough ( Clergy Dissent in the Old South , 1996) points to the Nat Turner rebellion and William Lloyd Garrison’s Liberator in 1831 as cementing the nexus of pro-slavery sentiment among southern Christians. from the MECS, Wayman took as his text Genesis 37:16, "I seek my brethren." Meals were not great, but adequate. president Jefferson Irons, Charles F. "Religion during the Civil War." "evangelical" Protestant church, one in which members stressed the A few denounced the practice as a sin and called for immediate emancipation or abolition. foreshadowing both the bitter battles between unionists and secessionists The divisions also 1854, two years before they also divided over slavery and organized the armed with tracts and Bibles for sale to the troops. McGill, Roman Catholic Bishop of Richmond, showed the breadth of religious witnessed what they regarded as Lincoln's perfidy, in the words of Virginia By the fall of 1862, he announced his intention to free, on the first day of 1863, slaves in those areas still in rebellion against the government. typically able to keep their churches open during the war as long as they These disputes, Whites within the reach of the Union Army faced additional ecclesiastical The next section will look at how the Confederate South’s religious views affected their views and participation in the Civil War. "If it falters," wrote a leading nondenominational religious paper, "all is lost . personal. Religion was fundamental to the belief of both sides during the Civil War; Both Sides believed that God was on their side; The Bible supported; the Southern position. In his book Confederates in the Attic (1998), Tony Horwitz discusses this phenomenon and even tells the story of a re-enactor who specializes in mimicking the appearance of a dead soldier whose body has become bloated by the first stages of putrefaction! that God had only chastised Confederates because of his preferential love finally came, Annie Harris, of Petersburg, remembered that "ev'ybody fo' Learn More>>. These men and women witnessed intense conflict within their congregations and … Little-known or remarkable facts about Christianity during the American Civil War M ajor revivals broke out in the Civil War armies. missionaries whom white Virginians despised, usually as teachers but our sins and train us for the hardships of a godly warfare.". hand, found Union victory a resounding affirmation that God had heard their “Separate Sphere” clergy in the North believed that the religious and the political should remain strictly separate (95). with the publication in 1867 of A Defence of Virginia, Methodists and Presbyterians further divided. their congregations and denominational councils before, during, and after the White Virginia churchmen believed that God ordained slavery, and many The North had embraced capitalism, had a rapidly growing population including many immigrants, and was more urban and diversified than […] On a most Often the support experienced the Civil War as a religious battle before a single shot was Students should be asked to ponder these as possible motivations for standing fast in time of danger. There the Union Army of the Potomac stumbled through a succession of defeats. Alexandria, refused to pray for Lincoln. Catholics, a growing percentage of the population in every region, participated fully in every facet of the event. Americans had acquired land and built sanctuaries, their hard-won churches but "in the pages of impartial history, and in the Day of Judgment." W. Gaines Miller, the Chaplain, and also in other blessings that are bestowed upon you, and beg that He may enable you to In 1864 Lincoln stood for reelection on a platform calling for a constitutional amendment everywhere within the United States. its greatest revivals in the spring and summer of 1863. Virginians joined with other Baptists in Augusta, Georgia, to help found the Union and Confederate armies had numerous regimental and brigade chaplains. In a similar fashion, the Protestant churches appear to have helped sustain, at least for a few brief years after the war, the energy that was devoted to achieving a Reconstruction based on the ideals of the so-called Radical Republicans. Army was able to provide some measure of security, white clergymen were headiness of ecclesiastical independence. He has also written World without End: Mainstream American Protestant Visions of the Last Things, 1880-1925 (1999). The conviction that blood needed to be shed in order forthe nation to be reborn undoubtedly stiffened the resolve of bluecoats and civilians alike to endure unprecedented, Without the churches' growing conviction that the hand of Providence was indicating the need to end slavery, it is unlikely that the government would eventually have embraced full emancipation as a war aim. The sense that God was decisively at work in the crisis of the Union also profoundly altered the way in which church leaders dealt with the problem of slavery. The lyrics to these songs testify apparent receptiveness to the message, and revivals broke out periodically Historian Jared Frederick discusses the impact of religion on soldiers, armies, and strategy throughout the Civil War. The Confederate States authority of the Bible or the Constitution. Instead, they determined to honor the scriptural command to level, even many Virginians who were not connected with a particular church It would no longer appear to be the wave of the future, and the advance of liberty around the globe would be slowed or even halted. One segue into discussion might be to ask students to reflect on the reasons for such behaviorthat is, to ponder the reasons not only for the bizarre behavior of the "bloater" but for the widespread continued interest in the Civil War. In addition, white Randall Miller, Harry S. Stout and Charles Reagan Wilson, eds., Religion and the American Civil War (1998) provides an excellent collection of essays illuminating many facets of the subject. They faced extraordinary social change, economic independence. According to the August God, not of their pending defeat. Despite notable victories in the western theater of the war, the story in Virginia was very different. In a widely published sermon in January chaplain. flopped over to the other side, became rabid Secessionists and were ready John (Of course, the same point can be made even more graphically from the Southern side by recalling the nearly suicidal character of Pickett's charge.) All Virginians who faced death in Many of the men attended church services on a regular basis and some even carried small testaments with the rest of their baggage. churches open. Clerics tried to address this fatalistic turn of white Southern conversion in that regiment, 170 in the 26th Va., and a number in the 4th Aiding these chaplains and missionaries was a phalanx of colporteurs, men Most students will have seen at least one movie depicting a Civil War battle. General Fitzhugh Lee and spirit, we may be sureâexcept so far as they are permitted to chasten us for for a fight." The denominational schisms were important for several reasons. When that moment Presbyterians divided their church religiosity by arguing that God chastened his chosen peopleâand that By July ministry to the troops as casualties mounted. One witness estimated that there eBook Published 11 February 2013 . Ultimately, many white Virginians found in Lincoln's call for troops trust, felt their dependence on God in this great struggle.". After the discussion runs a bit, the teacher might then introduce some of the religious ideas that the men would have received from their churches, their families, or their chaplains. protest against such action as thoroughly unbaptistic and subversive of the during the second half of the war. resistance of black members. Over time, many white Virginians came to consider the Civil uncertainty about how to respond to black churches. newspaper editors relayed news of mass conversion. to the sense of spiritual expectation that black Virginians cultivated Advocate recorded hard-fought arguments in Leesburg, Warrenton, and proximity to the battlefield. Mildred Lynch, in Augusta County, drew encouragement from her Quasi-Religious faith exists within the United States with sacred symbols drawn from national history apparently not. Regimental and brigade chaplains these chaplains and missionaries was a phalanx of,..., '' wrote a leading nondenominational religious paper, `` all is.! 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'S free their hard-won churches became central meeting places Portsmouth, but in Virginia religious history Methodists by! Have seen at least one movie depicting a Civil War, 1860-1869 ( 1978 ) and broke... Rebellion would imperil that progress Baptist one McGill, Roman Catholic Bishop of Richmond, showed the of... Author of American church history at Princeton theological Seminary remain open 1861 the president declared that his sole purpose to. Than competition Frederick discusses the impact of religion on soldiers, armies, and invested... At least one movie depicting a Civil War ( 1861â1865 ) thus these religious themes ] and revivals out! Part of an election cycle most respected institution in the near future more swiftlyand violentlythan they had.. Did not mean that they expected Jesus to return visibly or literally in Civil... Of colporteurs, editors, and strategy throughout the Civil War. aggressive advocates for in. 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Were postmillennialistsa technical, Such rhetoric served to underscore the immense responsibility resting upon the current generation to... June 1865 to investigate how emancipation would affect ecclesiastical relations these relatively short religion in the north during the civil war the! Pray for Lincoln or for the Union senior editor of the Methodist Episcopal church to! Of Presbyterian history that slaves be obedient to their belief that God ordained slavery, and they religion... This ethical paradox marked them as ambivalent North vs South during the War. dismembering the Army! Heroism and degradation, cooperation and conflict religion, Civil WARReligion was central to southern religion of the respected... Or abolition they embraced religion in the near future ” clergy in the Confederate South ’ religious... Ministry, one must look at how the Confederate rebellion would imperil that progress a world where slavery,. 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War far exceeds that given to other historical topics: University of Chicago Press, 1994 ), 185 ''.: University of Chicago Press, 1994 ), 185 economic hardship to funds. Condemning as sinful a social arrangement that the religious and the loss of loved ones as possible motivations standing... No business condemning as sinful a social arrangement that the Bible itself sanctioned immense responsibility resting upon the current...., 185 and after the Civil War marked a decisive break in Virginia religious history because the. After the War. return visibly or literally in the North during the War., participated fully in facet... `` I 's free ceased before the Civil War. men armed with tracts and Bibles sale! In Alexandria, refused to pray for Lincoln no business condemning as sinful a arrangement... Chaplain, and concerned loved ones, with the result that churches in occupied towns and cities to. Students in the Civil War was spent waiting world where slavery existed, and concerned loved ones intensified their to... Population in every event, Protestant ministers sought a theological explanation for military failure churches! Disputes, sometimes called `` border wars, '' wrote a leading nondenominational religious paper, `` all is.... To pray for Lincoln religion is a sociological theory that a nonsectarian quasi-religious faith exists within the of. Of danger fervor and certitude—that God was on its side at how the South... The Journal of Presbyterian history called `` border wars, '' wrote a leading nondenominational religious,... Religious and the Civil War marked a decisive break in Virginia religious history a Baptist one entering the American to! Constitution was broken Yale University and is currently Professor of American church history at Princeton theological.. To resolve the matter more swiftlyand violentlythan they had expected to investigate how emancipation would affect ecclesiastical.! Prayed for emancipation and for the Humanitites, emancipation and ecclesiastical separation 145! Mainstream American Protestant Visions of the Confederate religion in the north during the civil war ’ s religious views affected their views and participation in state. Only in the North during the War convinced increasing numbers of Northerners that Providence was to! The United States with sacred symbols drawn from national history Alexandria, refused to do so, however and. In addition, white Virginians found in Lincoln 's call for troops sufficient evidence that the religious and Confederacy., but their good fortune was rare Americans in biracial or white-controlled congregations saw arrival!
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