Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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Prologue

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pp. 1-10

In August 1864, Presbyterian editor Amasa Converse concluded that the past three years of war had clearly demonstrated the power of prayer. The first great Confederate victory at Manassas in July 1861 had followed an official day of prayer. But then a period of spiritual indifference during the fall and winter had preceded disastrous losses in Tennessee...

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1. Crises of Faith

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pp. 11-32

Émigré theologian and church historian Philip Schaff returned to Berlin in September 1854 to deliver two important lectures on the state of religion in his adopted country. Schaff’s European background, American experiences, and ecumenical theology made him acutely sensitive to the relationship between religious practices and national character...

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2. Reaping the Whirlwind

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pp. 33-50

On March 11, 1859, near Bonham, Texas, during a meeting of the Arkansas Conference of the Methodist Church, a northern preacher made inflammatory remarks about slavery—at least according to two southern Methodist ministers sent to spy on the proceedings...

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3. Holy War

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pp. 51-68

This bellicose passage became the sermon text for a northern preacher who quickly threw aside his pacifist principles after hearing that Confederates had fired on Fort Sumter and that the United States flag had been hauled down.1 War changed everything, or so countless Americans believed. The conflict quickly developed...

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4. Fighting for God and Country

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pp. 69-89

In Littleton, New Hampshire, it was no ordinary, quiet Sabbath, for even the church bells sounded more like a call to arms than a call to worship. The Littleton Brass Band escorted local recruits to the Congregational church; after everyone filed in, the choir sang, “America.” The sermon...

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5. Temptations of the Camp

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pp. 90-106

Bushnell need not have worried about whether soldiers were willing to kill the enemy, but as a minister he might have worried about the war’s impact on religious faith. In the spring of 1863, Confederate staff officer Walter Taylor longed for the peace he had experienced after being converted as a young man. “But I am so hardened...

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6. The Shepherds and Their Sheep

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pp. 107-126

In the aftermath of Sumter, as ministers no less than other folks became caught up in the martial frenzy, the first wave of enthusiastic volunteering inevitably scooped up some of the clergy. But not without controversy. A ministerial association in Niles, Michigan, condemned “brethren who drop the sword of the spirit” to take...

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7. Christian Soldiers

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pp. 127-146

Northerners and southerners alike affirmed that Christian soldiers not only would lead their armies to victory but would return as triumphant soldiers of the cross. Many churches came to see the army as one vast home mission field with overtones of millennial...

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8. The God of Battles

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pp. 147-165

After the death of two beloved colonels in a Texas cavalry regiment, Presbyterian chaplain Robert Franklin Bunting drew the orthodox conclusion: “God has come and taken our idols from us in that we may not rely too much upon the arm of flesh, but trust more in Him.” At the beginning of 1862, his words reflected the mood...

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9. Carnage

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pp. 166-184

The minié ball struck Private Evan Lawrence’s Bible and penetrated to Isaiah 52:7. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace,” seemed especially timely and comforting to this young Georgian...

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10. War’s Purpose

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pp. 185-203

By the late summer and early fall of 1862, not only were both sides still proclaiming their own righteousness and praying for their enemies’ destruction; they were still searching for some larger meaning in what threatened to become a war without end. After McClellan’s defeat on the Virginia Peninsula and the Army of Northern Virginia’s...

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11. The Lord’s Work

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pp. 204-221

There had been signs of religious stirring in the armies for several months, not exactly a surprising development during a season of intense combat. Seeing the dead at Antietam, one Union chaplain asked the question that must have weighed on many minds: “Oh God! how coust thou permit thy own creatures to butcher each...

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12. Testing Faith

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pp. 222-239

It just did not seem like Christmas—a common enough lament among older folks—but true enough for most everyone in 1862. The absence of familiar treats and familiar faces marked but another sign of how the war ruined everything, especially in the Confederacy...

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13. Declension

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pp. 240-257

Civil religion created an alliance between church and state in the United States and the Confederate States, but paradoxically the war weakened church attendance and ministries in the short if not in the long term. “Patriotism is a Christian virtue,” an Illinois Presbytery declared during the fall of 1863, yet it duly noted that the churches...

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14. Wrath

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pp. 258-277

The air felt warmer, the trees were budding, and the roads were starting to dry out—all sure signs of another campaign season in the offing. And in the spring of 1863, there appeared still another sign of approaching combat. Soldiers about to begin slaughtering each other...

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15. Jubilo

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pp. 278-298

“If the negro should be set free by this war, which I believe he will be, whether we gain or not, it will be the Lord’s doing. The time has come when his mission has ended as a slave, and while he has been benefited by slavery, the white race has suffered from its influence.” Thus, nurse Kate Cumming...

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16. Armies of the Lord

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pp. 299-316

“Every day my conviction becomes firmer that the hand of God is in this and that in spite of victories and advantages he will deny us Peace unless we grant to others the liberties we ask for ourselves—‘break every yoke and let the oppressed go free,’” Lieutenant John Quincy...

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17. War Comes to the Churches

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pp. 317-334

On May 9, 1864, Abraham Lincoln released a brief statement to the press stating that “enough is known of Army operations within the last five days to claim our especial gratitude to God” and urging “all patriots at their homes, in their places of public worship, and wherever they be, unite in common thanksgiving and prayer...

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18. Citizens, Saints, and Soldiers

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pp. 335-352

“Paul, in death, was not more loyal to his Lord than I . . . am to the cause of the Union,” an Illinois Methodist minister proclaimed in 1864, and he spoke for a growing number of people in both sections of the divided land who had long since stopped drawing much of a distinction between patriotism and religion...

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19. Thanksgiving and Desperation

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pp. 353-369

In September 1864, James F. Wood, the Catholic bishop of Philadelphia, called for observing a day of thanksgiving and prayer for recent Union victories. The reach of civil religion in light of growing optimism about the war had spread into the more conservative churches. The combined operations of the army and navy in Mobile Bay but especially...

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20. The Final Decrees of Providence

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pp. 370-388

Sometime in 1864 Lincoln offered a far more thoughtful reflection on God’s purposes than did the most learned clergy on either side of the conflict. He privately outlined his conclusions in a document that came to be known as the “Meditation on the Divine Will.” Distilling in only ten sentences...

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Epilogue

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pp. 389-398

“I saw strong war worn smoke begrimed, powder burnt men... lying upon the ground with tears streaming from their eyes and crying like children,” a corporal in Parker’s Virginia Battery recalled. The news of Lee’s surrender had unnerved them and many were...

Notes

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pp. 399-476

Bibliography

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pp. 477-572

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 573-574

This project began in the late spring of 1997 with a phone call from Gary Gallagher and an invitation to write a volume for the Littlefield History of the Civil War era. Gary and the other series editor T. Michael Parrish enthusiastically accepted the idea of a volume on the role of religion during the war. There seemed to be little work being done on the subject, though that has changed dramatically in recent years...

Index

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pp. 575-586