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Catholic Chaplains in the Civil War

From: The Catholic Historical Review
Volume 99, Number 4, October 2013
pp. 675-702 | 10.1353/cat.2013.0187



Many Catholics, particularly the clergy, saw the American Civil War as an opportunity to demonstrate their legitimacy as Americans. Therefore, the Catholic chaplains ministering to military personnel were not only important outlets of faith for Catholic soldiers who fought in the war but also were ambassadors to the wider American population. Their ministries brought new Catholics into the fold, undermined popular prejudices, and encouraged toleration. The author examines the ministries of these Catholic chaplains, seeking a better understanding of their role in, and perception of, the Civil War and the ways in which they helped to promote Catholicism in the United States.