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Christ in Camp and Combat

Christ in Camp and Combat: Religious Work in the Confederate Armies is study on the role of chaplains and others in the Confederate forces during the American Civil War. Dennis Peterson has put in a lot of research and gives everything from an overview down to short biographies of many individual chaplains. For someone who is a student of the period, there appears to be a lot to dig into, including long end notes and a bibliography that includes many online sources as well as what appear to be scholarly works.

Sadly, for a work of history, the author wears his colours too plainly on his sleeve. These chaplains are, to him, heroes of the Christian faith. Many of them, apparently, were not supporters of slavery but it seems that, in Peterson’s view, buttressed by the quotes and references he choses from his protagonists, the war wasn’t really about slavery in any case. Much as I appreciate devotional books, this is presented as history. The blurring of the lines makes me cautious about accepting anything without further cross-referencing.

However, in at least one thing, Peterson has been successful for this reader. I’d not previously given much thought at all to the role of chaplains in this conflict so at least there is an aspect of history more likely to snag my attention if I stumble across it again.

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