Non Abrahamic Religions and the Civil War

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major bill

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I was thinking about all our family, friends, neighbors, and co workers who finished up their Hajj today by 7 circumambulates around the Kaaba in Mecca and stoning the devil. Our loved one and neighbors will now be returning home. I do which them a save trip.

This gave me pause to think about the various religions practiced by American soldiers during the Civil War. By far the vast majority of the soldiers practiced one of the Great Abrahamic Religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) there must have been a few other religions practiced by Civil War soldiers. However some of the Civil War soldiers must have practiced some of the non Abrahamic Religions.

Although the numbers of Asian soldiers and sailors would not huge, at least a few of the soldiers and sailors must have practices some of the non Abrahamic Religions. On the forum we seem to enjoy studying some of the soldiers who did not fin into our concept of what Civil War soldiers were. So this might be an interesting subject.

Has anyone ran across American Civil War soldiers that practiced non Abrahamic Religions? it sure would be interesting to understand why a Chinese immigrants and other Asian immigrants would serve in the Civil War. Has anyone seen Buddhist and Hindus serving in the Civil War.
 
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major bill

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I will start with an example of a Islamic soldier form my home state of Michigan. Mohammed Abi ben Said was a school teacher in Detroit who joined Co. I of the 55th Mass. Infantry. After the War he help teach the newly freed slaves in the South. Mohammed Abi ben Said a brave American soldier and an educator.

So who has a story of a Hindu soldier they can share?
 
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major bill

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I am not sure this is not a Civil War thread about what religion people were during the Civil War. If the moderates want to they can delete anything they find wrong. Well the moderators can do it if if they do not see anything wrong with part of my post.

It would seem like discussing a Civil War soldier from Detroit would be acceptable.
 

major bill

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We do know that during the Civil War 31 Chinese immigrants served during Civil War as soldiers and there were 43 Chinese-American sailors. Some like DzauTsz-Zeh where Christians but it would be hard to know if all Chinese-Americans were Christians. Joseph Pierce of the 14th Connecticut wore a traditional queue as a soldier, but stopped shaving the front of his head. A soldier with a braided ponytail? We may never know what religion Joseph Pierce practiced.
 
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huskerblitz

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Henry Olcott was a Buddhist, but I don't think he converted until after the war when he was a colonel.
 

chellers

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I am utterly gobsmacked and confused by this thread. I thought this sort of stuff was verboten. I guess I misunderstood.
I am not sure this is not a Civil War thread about what religion people were during the Civil War. If the moderates want to they can delete anything they find wrong. Well the moderators can do it if if they do not see anything wrong with part of my post.

It would seem like discussing a Civil War soldier from Detroit would be acceptable.
Discussion of religion DURING the Civil War is permitted.

Posted as Moderator
 

major bill

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About 7,000 Jews served in the Union forces and about 3,000 in the Confederate forces. This probably put Judaism as second most popular religion during the Civil War after Christianity. Islam was likely third (we would have to check the religious beliefs of some of the Native Americans).

However it would be interesting to find some Buddhists and Hindus.
 
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7thWisconsin

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I'm pretty sure Islam counts as an Abrahamic religion.
The overall culture of the nation involved was firmly Judeo-Christian, so discussion involving other faiths is already talking about a narrow minority. The only options for chaplains in either combattant army were Roman Catholic, Protestant and Jewish. There were a fair number of Unitarian Universalist chaplains in the Federal army, who I'm pretty sure were firmly identified as Protestant (as UUs were kind of generically Christian at the time). Thomas Wentworth Higginson was a Unitarian, and his views directly influenced his abolishionism. Spiritualism was huge before the War, popularized by the Fox sisters. Then there are, of course, the worldviews of Native American like the Santee and Lakota Sioux who get drawn in on the periphery of the conflict.
I would strongly recommend the first volume of Allan Nevins magnum opus, "The Ordeal of the Union: Fruits of Manifest Destiny." He trys to deal with the Civil War from every angle: political, economic, cultural, philosophical and theological. His III and IV chapters, Culture of the Masses and The Pulse of Reform, are a really good study of the religious climate of the nation and how religious worldview impacted national conversations.
 
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Carronade

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About 7,000 Jews served in the Union forces and about 3,000 in the Confederate forces. This probably put Judaism as second most popular religion during the Civil War after Christianity. Islam was likely third (we would have to check the religious beliefs of some of the Native Americans).

However it would be interesting to find some Buddhists and Hindus.
Just a guess, but I would think there would be more Native Americans practicing their own religions than Muslims in America at that time.

I understand many slaves continued to practice African religions, sometimes in combination with Christianity, which had been mainly imposed by their masters.

What about deists, those who believe in a God but not in formal structured religion. Some of the Founder Fathers like Jefferson were deists; did such beliefs persist or spread through the common people?
 

major bill

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Was there a recognition of religious service during the ACW? I mean, were there chaplains? services?
Christian chaplains and I believe one Jewish chaplain but would have to check. The first Islamic Army chaplain would have to wait from many years until the US Army had enough Muslim soldiers to make sense to have an Islamic chaplain.
 

1950lemans

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Confederate sea-going ships, like the raiders for example, always had difficulty keeping a sufficient compliment of crew members. I know all kinds of people served on board. There is a possibility that some were from the Far East.....I think I read that some were from the Dutch East Indies (Java, Sumatra) and not of European extraction.
 
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1950lemans

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It would be interesting to know about the blockade runners since many came out of Britain and Britain was the empire's hub so there were probably seamen from all over.

I think on the high seas you'd be able to find all types of peoples with many world religious backgrounds. Being seamen there's a good chance that nobody practiced their faith. LOL
 

Carronade

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I will start with an example of a Islamic soldier form my home state of Michigan. Mohammed Abi ben Said was a school teacher in Detroit who joined Co. I of the 55th Mass. Infantry. After the War he help teach the newly freed slaves in the South. Mohammed Abi ben Said a brave American soldier and an educator.

So who has a story of a Hindu soldier they can share?
Just happened to notice this, that ben Said apparently had to go to Massachusetts to join a "colored" regiment. Was he not welcome in a Michigan unit? The 54th and 55th Mass attracted black recruits from other northern states, perhaps he was one of them.
 
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