Date of Award

8-2001

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

History

Major Professor

Stephen V. Ash

Abstract

Thousands of Southern Christians enlisted in the rebel armies when the Civil War began, and tens of thousands of battle-hardened fighting men made wartime professions of faith. On the whole, these soldiers became more religious as the war progressed, but what was the long-term effect of four years of war and defeat on the faith of Christian soldiers? The stories of the nine Confederate Christian soldiers studied in this dissertation vividly illustrate the impact of the Civil War on faith. This study includes an examination of the antebellum, wartime, and in most cases, postwar lives of these men who represent a cross section of Southern society, Southern religion, and the Confederate military. The tribulations of war drove them to new spiritual heights and greater maturity. Early on as well as throughout the war, these steadfast Christians read their Bibles, associated with other Christian soldiers, attended religious services, and communed privately with God. During times of increased military activity, the threat of death and concern for loved ones crowded the soldiers' minds. The realization that they had little control over these matters moved these men to rely on God to protect them and their families; and God proved faithful, thus strengthening their trust in Him. Furthermore, these men grew in their emulation of the virtues of Christ. Not only did they become more single-minded in their outlook on life, but also their worship took on new significance, they exhibited more humility, and they sought to serve God more actively. It was during the postwar era, however, that these Christian veterans fulfilled formal roles as the Lord's servants. The men in this study who survived the war returned home and took up leadership positions in their local churches, where they served faithfully until their deaths.

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