1. Welcome to the CivilWarTalk, a forum for questions and discussions about the American Civil War! Become a member today for full access to all of our resources, it's fast, simple, and absolutely free!
Dismiss Notice
Join and Become a Patron at CivilWarTalk!
Support this site with a monthly or yearly subscription! Active Patrons get to browse the site Ad free!
START BY JOINING NOW!

Spiritualism during the Civil War... the dead soldiers return

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by jpeter, Apr 6, 2010.

  1. jpeter

    jpeter 1st Lieutenant Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2007
    Messages:
    4,469
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    As many of you know, spiritualism was very popular during the Civil War. By 1861, a spiritualist newspaper appeared called the “Banner of Light”.

    The Banner of Light proposed to seek out dead soldiers to find out how they were doing after death, what conditions they were in when they died, and whether they died the “good death.”

    Each issue of the newspaper provided a litany of answers from dead soldiers in a monthly article known as “Voices from the Dead.”. A Mrs. Conant would go into a trance and seek out dead soldiers on both sides. In one episode, Stonewall Jackson answered her… “I adopted the course I took because I felt it was right for me to.” Willie Lincoln apparently sent regular communications. Messages were not specific, and contained the typical condolence letter responses.

    Some of the dead channeled Mrs Conant with things like, “as a favor of you today, that you will inform my father, Nathaniel Thompson of Montgomery, Alabama, if possible, of my decease. Tell him I died …eight days ago, happy and resigned.”

    Leonard Bolton wants to give my mother …”a little sketch of the manner of my death.”

    Charlie Hiland reported, “I lost my life in your Bull Run affair, and the folks want to know how I died and what became of me after death… I should like to inform them.”

    None of the soldiers mentioned were real soldier’s names. The Banner of Light did not present any reader’s actual kin, or any real details. The newspaper lasted well into mid-1870s.

    Source: “The Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War” – Drew Gilpin Faust

    There are two ways of looking at this kind of fakery. Looking back on it, it’s hard to imagine such an insidious form of lying. Yet, the Civil War was a huge trauma for individual parents. Many were desperate as they could not find their son’s body, and many went missing in some remote battlefield as an unknown grave.


    As Faust points out, The newspaper brought an affirmation to the dead’s mourning and grieving kin. The intent was to suggest that…”The [dead] were struggling to reach out to those they had left behind in order to console them with the reassurance at spiritualism’s core” ‘I still live.’
     

  2. (Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
  3. DWMack

    DWMack Cadet

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2009
    Messages:
    369
    Location:
    Lake Villa, Illinois
    As Faust points out, The newspaper brought an affirmation to the dead’s mourning and grieving kin. The intent was to suggest that…”The [dead] were struggling to reach out to those they had left behind in order to console them with the reassurance at spiritualism’s core” ‘I still live.’


    I tend to think it was a way for some folks to capitolize on the deaths of others during war time. It was that way then and through the years. I enjoyed Mrs. Faust's book but I think she is being too kind in regard to the motivation of such publications.
     
  4. jpeter

    jpeter 1st Lieutenant Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2007
    Messages:
    4,469
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    Perhaps.

    I'm not sure how I feel about it. The trauma is not something I'm good at imagining.
     

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)

Share This Page


(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)