Faith in the Fight

Virginia Dave

First Sergeant
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Jan 3, 2019
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Waynesboro, Virginia
'Faith in the Fight: Civil War Chaplains'

Authors:
John W. Brinsfield, William C. Davis, Benedict Maryniak, James I. Robertson Jr.

I recently purchased this book and had plans to read it as soon as I could, but as everyone here knows life sometimes gets in the way. So why am I writing this post. Well I would like to know if there are others in CWT that have read this publication or others similar to this one about faith of soldiers during the conflict.

This is not a book review but rather a discussion of how morale on both sides of the “Fight” were uplifted by the faith of soldiers on both sides. I do not mean for this to be an argument concerning who was right or wrong, but what were the thoughts driving their commitment based on their faith.

We have all heard or read about Gen. Jacksons faith and how many of his decisions, and seemingly lack of fear were based on that faith. At present I cannot bring to mind a counterpart to him on the Union side. Perhaps you can help.

So here we go. Perhaps this thread will be a dud. I hope not. I look forward to your thoughts and comments, and I promise to add mine as my reading of this book really gets under way.

It is also my hope that my amateurish, unschooled writing style will not scare folks away.

Here is an opening statement for a review posted on Amazon to help us get started.

"The American Civil War yet seizes the imaginations of historians and general readers the world over. Many social, cultural, and military historians would agree with the editors' assertion that for most soldiers on both sides "religion was the greatest sustainer of morale during the Civil War" (p. viii). The nearly 3,700 Army chaplains were responsible for that morale boost."


Chaplain in their words.jpg
 
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lupaglupa

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Apr 18, 2019
Based on all the first person accounts I have read I would agree with the statement that religion was a great, and perhaps the greatest, source of support for the troops. I don't think Jackson is alone in his faith - I imagine there are countless examples on both sides at all ranks.
 

Virginia Dave

First Sergeant
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Based on all the first person accounts I have read I would agree with the statement that religion was a great, and perhaps the greatest, source of support for the troops. I don't think Jackson is alone in his faith - I imagine there are countless examples on both sides at all ranks.
Thank you. I would love to have other names of those that exhibited examples of faith. Either side.
 

Virginia Dave

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Waynesboro, Virginia
R.E Lee was a devout Christian and prayed daily.
A Prayer by General Lee
General Orders, No. 83
August 13, 1863

relee.jpg

Lee's faith influenced every aspect of his life. Here, the prayerful General embellishes a decree from Confederate President Jefferson Davis with a sincere prayer for righteousness amongst the Confederate ranks.

The President of the Confederate States has, in the name of the people, appointed the 21st day of August as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer. A strict observence of the day is enjoined upon the officers and soldiers of this army. All military duties, except such as are absolutely necessary, will be suspended. The commanding officers of brigades and regiments are requested to cause divine services, suitable to the occassion, to be performed in their respective commands.

Soldiers! We have sinned against Almighty God. We have forgotten his signal mercies, and have cultivated a revengeful, haughty, and boastful spirit. We have not remembered that the defenders of a just cause should be pure in his eyes; that "our times are in his hand"-and we have relied too much on our own arms for the achievement of our independence. God is our only refuge and our strength. Let us humble ourselves before him. Let us confess our many sins, and beseech him to give us a higher courage, a purer patriotism and more determined will: that he ill convert the hearts of our enemies: that he will hasten the time when war, with its sorrows and sufferings, shall cease, and that he will give us a name and place among the nations of the earth.

R. E. Lee, General
 

Discipulus

Corporal
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Mar 30, 2015
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DuPage Cnty, IL
I read two letters in a Civil War period newspaper where the regimental chaplains mentioned taking up arms alongside the other soldiers.

Was this normal?
 

Virginia Dave

First Sergeant
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Waynesboro, Virginia
I read two letters in a Civil War period newspaper where the regimental chaplains mentioned taking up arms alongside the other soldiers.

Was this normal?
It was not unheard of. I need to refresh my memory, but I remember reading of one Chaplain that said he had planned only to wound not kill anyone. I will see what I can dig up on this. There are probably other instances. I believe there was one Chaplain referred to as the Fighting Chaplain.
 

Virginia Dave

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Waynesboro, Virginia
I read two letters in a Civil War period newspaper where the regimental chaplains mentioned taking up arms alongside the other soldiers.

Was this normal?
Chaplain Thomas W. Caskey of the 16th Mississippi Calvary. Here is a little information from his notes during the war.

"it is not good policy for a one horse preacher to arbitrarily commit the God of the Universe to either side of a personal difficulty anyhow. I told the soldiers plainly that I didn't know exactly what position God would take in that fight. The issue was a personal matter between us and the Yankees, and we must settle it, as best we could, among ourselves."

"It became clearer to me every day that one good soldier was worth a whole brigade of canting chaplains so far as insuring the success of our army was concerned. If I must preach to others so as to make them good fighters, why not give them an object lesson on the battlefield myself?"

"So I asked for a gun, took a place with "the boys" and was dubbed the "fightinbg parson."

It was his plan not to kill anyone, but to shoot for the legs as not to kill another person. He figured that if he wounded one. It would take two others to carry him from the field thereby reducing the number of enemy in the fight.
 
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