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With various clusters of people come various beliefs in religion.
Over the last two-plus decades and thanks to the collective attention and impressive labors of a growing number of historians, the void of scholarship on religion during the Civil War era has been substantially filled. Religion now plays a significant role in how we historicize the American Civil War. Importantly, the historiography of religion that has emerged, characterized by particular sensitivities to the political, intellectual and cultural, and social importance of religion during the age, reminds us that faith must not be studied as a peripheral force, especially when contemplating mid-nineteenth century Americans. For the largest part of Americans of the period, religion must be assessed as a vital agent—and for many, the central agent—of individual causation and action, the force that most determined how individual Americans perceived and participated in the Civil War.
Shattuck helped start a line of inquiry into the religious beliefs and practices of soldiers that has been taken up over the years in such offerings as Steven Woodworth's While God is Marching On: The Religious World of Civil War Soldiers (2003). Unlike Shattuck's work, Woodworth's study was predicated upon the religious similarities of northern and southern soldiers, and made much of the tendency of men in both armies to conflate patriotism and salvation. In Soldiers of the Cross: Confederate Soldier-Christians and the Impact of War on their Faith (2005), Kent Dollar traced the religious trajectory of nine Confederate soldiers, supporting Shattuck's claim that while religion did not fuel the South's war effort as it did in the North, it nevertheless heartened Southerners in defeat. David Rolfs, in No Peace for the Wicked: Northern Protestant Soldiers and the American Civil War (2009), offered a comparable examination of Federal troops, documenting the many ways in which northern soldiers reconciled their participation in the Civil War with their Christian beliefs by imagining the Union as a holy entity.
People believe faith is worth more to people then religion.
Particularly characteristic of recent scholarship on religion in the Civil War era is its eclecticism, especially as they feature religious denominations. James O. Lehman and Steven M. Nolt's Mennonites, Amish, and the American Civil War (2007), Jonathan D. Sarna and Adam Mendelsohn's Jews and The Civil War: A Reader (2010), and Bruce T. Gourley's Baptists in Middle Georgia During the Civil War (2011) are a few of the many valuable works authored of late that explore the Civil War experiences of distinct (and often comparatively smaller) faith communities. But while many groups of believers have found their way into the literature on religion during the Civil War era, such cannot be said of women. Occasionally taken up as secondary considerations in works like Drew Gilpin Faust's Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the Civil War (1996), the subject of female piety during the war has yet to be addressed in a dedicated monograph. The best studies of women and religion during the Civil War Era remain Elizabeth Fox-Genovese's "Days of Judgment, Days of Wrath: The Civil War and the Religious Imagination of Women Writers," and Drew Faust's "Without Pilot or Compass: Elite Women and Religion in the Civil War South," both of which appeared in Religion and the American Civil War in 1998.
If incomplete, the comparative heterogeneity of recent works on religion in the Civil War era is nonetheless heartening. Part and parcel of this pluralism in the literature is a newfound attention to the home front. Recognizing that the Civil War involved broad societies and not just armies, historians have turned their gaze to the civilian ministers and congregants who themselves looked to the heavens for divine guidance and understanding during its darkest days. The importance of religion on the home front is a major theme of George C. Rable's God's Almost Chosen Peoples: A Religious History of the American Civil War (2010). Even more representative of this trend are two more recent offerings. Sean A. Scott's A Visitation of God: Northern Civilians Interpret the Civil War (2011) privileged the "average" northern believer at every turn, be they laypeople or clergy, while Timothy Wesley's The Politics of Faith During the Civil War (2013) investigated the home front debate over political preachers and the related issues of wartime religious liberty, minister loyalty and disloyalty, and African American clerical activism. The shared supposition of these and other recent works on religion on the home front is simply the primacy of faith in the lives of Americans of the day, be they preacher or pauper, man or woman, northerner or southerner, and black or white.
Henry Bargy in 1902 spoke ofAmerican church religion as "."
More recently, the essays in Apocalypse and the Millennium in the American Civil War Era (2013), edited by Ben Wright and Zachary Dresser suggest that Christian eschatology profoundly influenced how Americans engaged their world in the Civil War era. The essays in Apocalypse and the Millennium were wide-ranging, from the prophecy of a purifying civil war and southern independence in Edmund Ruffin's popular antebellum novel to the influence of the Biblical concept of Jubilee, the sacred time of celebration and freedom, on African Americans' expectations of emancipation. In their collective breadth, the essays show how the providential and apocalyptic thought that pervaded American life in this period stoked anticipation of revolutionary change and shaped how people navigated the tremendous upheaval of the period.
Finally, in important cultural histories of Civil War era America's relationship with death and dying, scholars such as Drew Gilpin Faust (This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War, 2008) and Mark A. Schantz (Awaiting the Heavenly Country: The Civil War and America's Culture of Death, 2008) showed how religious faith framed Americans' reaction to the death and destruction of the Civil War and how that death and destruction modified forms of religious expression. Faust suggested that the scale of casualties soon led to an epistolary convention in soldiers' letters to the homefront to recast their colleague's deaths, as good, heroic, and, above all, pious. Schantz held that antebellum attitudes toward death facilitated the war's carnage. Literary tropes and cultural practices valorizing death as the heroic realization of Heaven in the afterlife left Americans resigned to death's inevitability and enamored by its romantic symbolism. Faust, conversely, believed the war inaugurated a new culture of death, a necessary reaction to the realities of the war and a fundamental transformation in how America deals with loss. Both accounts gave testament to the ways religious thought and spiritual were so indispensible in helping Americans make sense of the war's staggering violence.
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Read this Religion Essay and over 87,000 other research documents
The historiographical dearth of attention to the subject remained evident to the organizers of the Louisville, Kentucky, symposium in 1994 which resulted in the publication of Religion and the American Civil War. The organizers asserted, "Despite the uncontested and unrivaled centrality of the Civil War in American history, despite its importance for both the history of the South and the history of African Americans, and despite its nearly mythic place in the popular mind … surprisingly little attention has been devoted to the war as a religious experience and event." The historians who assembled at that conference—among them Drew Gilpin Faust, George Frederickson, Eugene Genovese, and Mark Noll—issued a scholarly call to arms to begin the process of restoring faith to understanding the men and women who lived and died during the Civil War Era. Since then, their call has been answered.
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In the subsequent decades, the number of scholarly collections and monographs on religion in the Civil War era has grown, reaffirming that faith permeated every aspect of life during the 1850s and 1860s. In assessing the role that faith played in the partisan discord of the 1850s for example, a number of historians have forged a political history of religion during the age. Others have of late commenced an intellectual and cultural history of belief during the period. Lastly, in their efforts to document the place of religion in the lives of individual men and women from all walks of life, on both the battlefield and home front, scholars recently have constructed an impressive social history of religion during the Civil War Era.
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For most of the twentieth century, scholarly works on religion during the Civil War Era were dwarfed in number by studies of religion's place in Colonial America and the American Revolution. Occasional works appeared about religious aspects of the Civil War. In The Almost Chosen People (1959), William Wolf dealt with the unconventional religion of Abraham Lincoln and in American Apocalypse (1978) James Moorhead assessed how mainstream Christians in the North leaned upon millennialism and morality in justifying the war. Slightly more common were studies of religion in the Old South, in the reform impulse in the North before the war, and in the formation of the "Lost Cause" afterward. In Broken Churches, Broken Nation (1985), C. C. Goens chronicled how slavery and sectionalism splintered America's leading Protestant denominations in the 1830s and 1840s. John R. McKivigan's War Against Proslavery Religion: Abolitionism and the Northern Churches, 1830-1865 (1984) highlighted the disruptiveness of the slavery question within America's Protestant churches, examining the polarizing impact that abolitionists had within their respective faith traditions. Charles Reagan Wilson's Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause (1980) described how postwar clergymen mixed Christianity with white supremacy and Confederate memory in the creation of a new theology of Confederate righteousness. All of these efforts contributed to understanding the prominence of religion during the Civil War Era. But the studies had not yet achieved the critical mass to constitute anything like a scholarly canon.
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