Religion in the Civil War: The Southern Perspective | National Humanities Center

TeacherServe Essays

Religion in the Civil War: The Southern Perspective

By Stout, Harry S.

Religion stood at the center of the Civil War for both sides. Both North and South looked to God for meaning, and each side believed—with equal fervor and certitude—that God was on its side. Many ministers, generals, leaders, and editors went so far as to proclaim that God had ordained the war and would determine its length, its damages, and its outcome. The victor would show, in other words, whose side God really supported. New England political and religious leaders had long proclaimed themselves God’s “chosen people.” With the start of the Civil War, southerners laid claim to the title and, through speech, print, and ritual actions, proceeded to “prove” their claim. For the South, this “chosen” status not only presumed ultimate victory in what would turn out to be a long and bloody conflict, but also put God’s imprimatur on the Confederate national identity.

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History / Education Studies / American History / American Civil War / American South / Christianity / Confederate States of America / Slavery /