This special exhibit explores the role of religion and the establishment of chaplaincy (military, hospital, prison) during the Civil War. Recognizing the Sesquicentennial of the war, this exhibit opened on Saturday, May 28, 2011, and closes at the end of October 2012. Virtual exhibit pages and links will be activated during fall 2011.
We are still looking for artifacts and other chaplain-related materials for the exhibit. If you have items that you would be willing to loan or donate to us, please contact the Presbyterian Heritage Center by email or by phone (828-669-6556). Thanks. Click here.
Answering the Call: Religion & Chaplains during the Civil War exhibit explores the following eras and issues
The exhibit explores
issues including religion, slavery and abolition, Black Presbyterian ministers and congregations, the Nullification Debate over states' rights, denominational splits (Baptists, Methodists, etc.) and more.
Left-to-right above: Rev. Henry H. Garnet, Rev. Benjamin Morgan Palmer, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Rev. Lyman Beecher, Rev. Henry W. Beecher
Left-to-right above: Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy, Rev. John Gloucester,
The Gathering Storm (1859 - 1861)
Letters, diaries, newspapers,
photos and other materials will highlight the forces buffeting congregations and religion leading up to secession and the outbreak of war.
August 1861 rally at Lincoln's home, Leslie's Nov. 1859 newspaper showing John Brown; Brown's Engine House Fort in Harper's Ferry
Diaries, photos and artifacts will tell the story of religion and chaplains, as well as the impact on local congregations both North and South. Nearly 3,700 chaplains served in the Union and Confederate military, along with hundreds of ministers who served as "camp missionaries." The exhibit will feature photographs and biographies of many chaplains.
Among the rare Bibles and tracts produced during the Civil War that will be on display at the Presbyterian Heritage Center is the New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (Augusta, Georgia: Confederate States Bible Society, 1862). About 11 copies of the CSA Bible are in existence, according to one survey. A copy of a blockade-runner Bible, captured by Union ships, also will be on display. Several of these Bibles and tracts are being loaned by the Dunham Bible Museum in Houston. Presbyterian Rev. Dr. Moses D. Hoge (at right) of Second Presbyterian Church, Richmond, Virginia, went to England during the war to arrange the import of 15,000 Bibles, 50,000 New Testaments and 250,000 of the Gospels and Psalms from the British and Foreign Bible Society for the Confederacy and its soldiers.
Chaplains of all denominations will be highlighted, as well as their roles, which ranged from acting as ministers, surgery aides, hospital visitors, letter writer, librarian and much more!
Washington DC Hospital Ward K, Methodist Chaplain Moses L. Whitten's parole copy
This letter (page 1 below) is from Presbyterian minister Rev. Dr. Phineas Gurley of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church (where Lincoln would worship while in Washington, D.C.) to President Abraham Lincoln on appointments of hospital chaplains.
Union Chaplain Benjamin F. Randolph, 26th U.S. Colored Troops, ordained Presbyterian minister (at right), who after the war joined the Methodist church. Born a freed black in Kentucky and educated at Oberlin College, Rev. Randolph was appointed to the 26th Union black unit in 1863. After the war, he served about seven months (February - September 1867) in the Freedmen's Bureau in South Carolina, elected a state legislator and killed in October 1868.
There were at least 14 black ministers appointed as Chaplains to U.S. Africa-American troop units between 1863 - 1865.
This exhibit also explores the mpact of the war on congregations, both North and South. This picture (below) is from July 6, 1864, taken at Fort Delaware prison where Confederate prisoners were held, as well as civilian detainees, such as Presbyterian Rev. Dr. Isaac W. K. Handy, shown leading a Theological study group of eight in the prison.
Among some of the paper ephemera displayed will be the payroll voucher of Rev. Michael J. Cramer, who served as a Hospital Chaplain and was General Ulysses S. Grant's brother-in-law.
Photo Album of Exhibit Items (click for more photos)
Establishing Chaplains July 1, 1777, Pennsylvania Gazette
1862 Hospital Chaplain Appointment, Rev. H. M. Smith
Presbyterian Chaplain Robert F. Bunting, Texas 8th Cavalry
Union Chaplain Henry M. Turner, 1st U.S. Colored Troops
(official name of black soldier units formed in 1863)
9th Corps Union Chaplains, c, Oct. 1864 near Petersburg
Chaplain Uniforms and accessories
Epaulet of Confederate Chaplain Lachlan C. Vass
Brass buttons from Rev. L. C. Vass' Confederate chaplain uniform which he generally covered with black fabric. The buttons are those of the Confederate General Staff.
Two Union soldiers tintype in front of painted camp scene