James I. Robertson, Jr. and others talk about a wonderful museum located in Lynchburg, VA known as the National Civil War Chaplain’s Museum. It focuses on the role of priests, ministers, and rabbis during the tumult of the American Civil War.
While I have not visited there, it is on my short list of historical places to visit. I reviewed a great book entitled “Christ in the Camp” regarding the chaplains of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. Currently, I’m reading through Faith in the Fight: Civil War Chaplains with contributions by John W. Brinsfield, William C. Davis, Benedict Maryniak, and James Robertson.
For both the Union and Confederate soldiers, religion was the greatest sustainer of morale in the Civil War, and faith was a refuge in times of need. Guarding and guiding the spiritual well being of the fighters, the army chaplain was a voice of hope and reason in an otherwise chaotic military existence. The clerics’ duties did not end after Sunday prayers; rather, many ministers could be found performing daily regimental duties, and some even found their way onto fields of battle. Identifies for the first time 3,694 ministers who were commissioned as chaplains in the Union and Confederate armies and serves as a starting point for any research into the neglected area of Civil War chaplains (Product review on Amazon).
Also of interest is a ministry known as the Re-Enactors Missions for Jesus Christ. These men seek to minister within the context of the Civil War re-enactments. Here’s their description:
Welcome to the web site for the Re-enactor’s Missions for Jesus Christ (RMJC). This site is dedicated first and foremost to the glory of Almighty God. It stands as a tribute to the heroism of those men who comprised the ranks of the chaplaincy during the War Between the States (Civil War), to their unswerving devotion to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to the missionary work they began in the 1860s.
In like manner, the business of the RMJC is the spreading of the Gospel through the re-printed Civil War period Gospel tracts, the spoken word, this web site as well as the National Civil War Chaplains Museum.
Its members, who serve as chaplains and colporteurs, are sent into the field, not as sham play-actors bent on pretentious historical interpretation, but as men and women of God, solidly committed to preaching, teaching and sharing the Gospel to the winning of souls among the ranks of Civil War re-enactors and enthusiasts across the United States.
On this site is a great little 4:00 clip entitled, “Whose Side Was God On During the Civil War?” This gives a marvelous answer.
May we thank God for using such a tragedy like the Civil War to use these chaplains as instruments of bringing them (and the re-enactors) to Jesus Christ.