The spiritual community was very important to the Civil War soldier and his home folks as evidenced by the many religious artifacts, letters and first hand accounts of the veterans that are available to us today. We know from numerous sources that religious life was a very important part of the Antebellum.
The author has taken the community of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and examined it through the minutes and records of the churches there as well as letters and personal documents of its citizens.
For this study, the author looks at refinement, diversity, and race to give him insights about the spiritual community.
He uses church records and minutes to delve into the ‘refinements’ each church was involved in. These ‘refinements’ included improvements, such as padded pews, steeples, and bells. Also, the requirements for pastoral leadership was researched, especially the educational requirements for ministers.
‘Diversity’ was primarily cultural, although ‘race’ was considered briefly. The European or American roots of the denominations were discussed and how these were reflected in the spiritual community. The establishment of the AME Zion church was especially noteworthy, and may have been typical of other black churches within the Border States during the Antebellum.
‘Race’ was an especially important parameter at this time. The interaction between blacks and whites was chronicled and revealed a marked difference from race relations below the Mason-Dixon Line.
The author intertwined the citizens of the different churches into his narrative and thus made the material more relevant.
The effect of the Battle of Gettysburg and its aftermath on the spiritual community was especially illuminating since there was much less fighting and destruction in the North than there was in the South. There are many records of the difficult times faced by Southerners during and after the War, but few about how Northern citizens fared.
This in an excellent study on religion in Gettysburg and this account may be typical of many Northern border towns. It can be of value to many who want to know more about religion, social systems, and the war’s effect on Northern civilians.
Title: Gettysburg Religion – Refinement, Diversity. And Race in the Antebellum and
Civil War Border North
Author: Steve Longenecker
Publisher: Fordham University Press