Recent Historiography on Religion and the American Civil War

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Religion and the American Civil War is a field of study which has received much attention in recent years. Previously considered a peripheral issue by most Civil War historians (erroneously so), religion reemerged as a significant interpretive element of the Civil War experience with the publication of Religion and the American Civil War (1998), a collection of essays edited by Randall M. Miller, Harry S. Stout and George Reagan Wilson. Well-known historians such as Eugene D. Genovese, Daniel W. Stowell, Drew Gilpin Faust, Bertram Wyatt-Brown and Samuel S. Hill contributed to the ground-breaking volume.
The 1994 religion and Civil War symposium in Louisville that led to the Religion and the American Civil War volume stands as a watershed event in terms of religion and Civil War historiography. However, a survey of Civil War historiography from the mid-1970s to the present provides the larger context in terms of recent historical attention given to religion and the Civil War. Modern historians have approached the theme of religion and the Civil War in at least seven distinct, albeit sometimes overlapping, subcategories: 1) Religion in general during the Civil War, 2) Northern religion and the Civil War, 3) Southern religion and the Civil War, 4) Religion among the soldiers, 5) Civil War chaplains, 6) African-American religion and the Civil War, 7) Women and religion during the Civil War, and 8) Religious denominations and the Civil War. Any discussion of the American Civil War must take into account the issue of slavery, the underlying cause of the War. The sectional debates over slavery were frequently couched in religious language. Modern historians addressing the relationship of religion and the Civil War typically focus on slavery as the one defining issue of antebellum religion. As such, an important question begs our attention: should historical literature pertaining to the larger antebellum and Reconstruction eras, but not the Civil War



Bibliography: Aamodt, Terrie D. Righteous Armies, Holy Causes: Apocalyptic Imagery and the Civil War. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2002 Bell, Marty G. “The Civil War: Presidents and Religion.” Baptist History and Heritage 32, nos. 3-4 (July / October 1997): 101-115. York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. Beringer, Richard E. The Elements of Confederate Defeat: Nationalism, War Aims and Religion. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1989. “Baptists and the Civil War.” Baptist History and Heritage 32, nos. 3-4 (July / October 1997). Blight, David W. Frederick Douglass’ Civil War: Keeping Faith in Jubilee. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989. Boles, John B. The Irony of Southern Religion. New York: P. Lang, 1994. Boles, John B. Masters and Slaves in the House of the Lord: Race and Religion in the American South, 1740-1870 Brown, Robert R. And One Was a Soldier: The Spiritual Pilgrimage of Robert E. Lee. Shippensburg, PA: White Mane Books, 1998. Carwardine, Richard J. Evangelicals and Politics in Antebellum America. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993. Kingswood Books, 2001. Chesebrough, David B. Clergy Dissent in the Old South, 1830-1865. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1996. Chesebrough, David B. “God Ordained This War”: Sermons on the Sectional Crisis, 1830-1865. Columbia: University of South Carolina, 1991. Cornelius, Janet Duitsman. Slave Missions and the Black Church in the Antebellum South. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1999. Crowther, Edward R. Southern Evangelicals and the Coming of the Civil War. Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 2000. Crowther, Edward R. Southern Protestants, Slavery and Secession: A Study in Religious Ideology, 1830 1861 DeBoer, Clara Merritt. Be Jubilant My Feet: African American Abolitionists in the American Missionary Association, 1839-1861 DeBoer, Clara Merritt. His Truth is Marching On: African Americans Who Taught the Freedmen for the American Missionary Association, 1861-1877 Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2002. Faust, Drew Gilpin. The Creation of Confederate Nationalism: Ideology and Identity in the Civil War South. Baton Rogue: Louisiana State University Press, 1988. Faust, Drew Gilpin. Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the Civil War. Chapel Hill: University Press of North Carolina, 1996. Oxford University Press, 1998. Fordham, Monroe. Major Themes in Northern Black Religious Thought, 1800-1860. Hicksville, New York: Exposition Press, 1975. Foster, Gaines M. Ghosts of the Confederacy: Defeat, the Lost Cause, and the Emergence of the New South, 1865-1913 229-249. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

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