Upon the Altar of the Nation: A Moral History of the Civil War
Harry S. Stout
A timely reconsideration of "just war," this landmark history closely examines the moral underpinnings of the War Between the States
When the nation tore itself apart during the Civil War, the North and the South marched under the banner of God. Yet the true moral aspects of this war have received little notice from historians of the period. In this gripping volume, Yale religious historian Harry S. Stout demonstrates how both groups’ claims that they had God on their side fueled the ferocity of the conflict and its enduring legacy today.
Proceeding chronologically from the election of Lincoln to the start of Reconstruction, Stout explores how the fundamental moral conduct of the war shifted from a limited conflict fought over constitutional issues to a total war in which slaughter both on and off the battlefield was justified as the only means to unconditional victory. As North and South alike enshrined their causes as sacred, a kind of national religion emerged based on martyrdom and rebirth through violence.
Drawing on a fascinating array of Civil War letters, sermons, editorials, diaries, and battle photographs, Stout reveals how men and women were ensnared in the time’s patriotic propaganda and ideological grip and how these wartime policies continue to echo in the debates today. Sure to provoke a major reevaluation of this bloody and tormented period and appeal to readers of James McPherson, Garry Wills, and David Herbert Donald, Upon the Altar of the Nation is a provocative and surprising examination of motive and conduct, both on and off the battlefield.
Hence politicians and preachers are the only speakers who can find hearers.”3 In this barren spiritual environment, faith continued to burn bright in the Confederate armies and hospitals. Abstract warnings of death became chillingly immediate in the aftermath of Antietam, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, and the battles to come in the spring of 1864. Throughout the winter, an increasingly desperate President Davis urged his soldiers on, placing confidence in Providence even as might of arms and tactics.
Factories left vacant by their soldier husbands and fathers. It was an evolving logic that would grow ever darker through his Southern campaigns and into the campaigns of Indian extermination in the 1870s and 1880s (when he replaced Grant as commander of American armies). In Sherman’s view, his coercive actions were not “punitive” or brutally intimidating but strategic and merciful—a favor to the stranded women and an act that helped to end the war sooner. In responding to the removal, one.
Victory, 11. 40 See Carwardine, Evangelicals and Politics in Antebellum America, 38. 41 A reading room on Eleventh Street in Richmond kept on file all the city papers and all available papers from every state, city, and town in the South. See Kimball, Starve or Fall, 74. 42 Southern Churchman, April 25, 1862. Religious presses such as the Episcopal Southern Churchman and the Southern Presbyterian printed “a Religious Family Newspaper” on their mastheads. Virtually all religious weeklies.
“Introduction to War: The Civilians of Culpepper Country, Virginia.” Civil War History 37 (1991): 120—37. Sweet, Leonard I., ed. Communication and Change in American Religious History. Grand Rapids, 1993. Sword, Wiley. Mountains Touched with Fire: Chattanooga Besieged, 1863. New York, 1995. ————. Shiloh: Bloody April. New York, 1974. Thomas, Emory M. The Confederate Nation, 1861-1865. New York, 1979. ————. The Confederate State of Richmond: A Biography of the Capital. Austin, 1971. ————.
1987. Williams, Gilbert Anthony. The Christian Recorder, Newspaper of the African Methodist Episcopal Church: History of a Forum for Ideas, 1854-1902. Jefferson, NC, 1996. Williams, Kenneth P. Lincoln Finds a General: A Military Study of the Civil War. 5 vols. New York, 1949-59. Williams, T. Harry. Lincoln and His Generals. New York, 1952. ————. P.T.G. Beauregard: Napoleon in Gray. Baton Rouge, 1955. Wills, Garry. Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America. New York, 1992. Wilson,.