Soldiers of the Cross
Kent T. Dollar
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Buy *Soldiers of the Cross: Confederate Soldier-Christians and the Impact of War on Their Faith* by Kent T. Dollar online

Soldiers of the Cross: Confederate Soldier-Christians and the Impact of War on Their Faith
Kent T. Dollar
Mercer University Press
253 pages
October 2005
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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In this study of the impact of the Civil War on Christians from the South who served as soldiers in the Confederate Army, Kent T. Dollar examines the lives of nine individuals beginning before the war started. Not all of these men were practicing Christians; some converted during the war after seeing its horrors. Eight of the men were Protestants, and one from Louisiana was Catholic. Some men were leaders in their local community while others became so after the war. Some of the nine died during the war.

Alfred Tyler Fielder of Tennessee was 47 in 1861. He started out as a private and was later elected a captain of the 12th Tennessee Infantry Regiment. He survived the war and died in 1893; he was a Methodist active in his church before and after the war. Born in Louisiana, William Lewis Nugent later moved to Mississippi and served in the 28th Mississippi Cavalry, reaching the rank of captain. A lawyer by trade and a member of the Methodist Church, he died in 1897. William Nelson Pendleton was 51 in 1861 and a member of the Episcopalian clergy. He reached the rank of brigadier general and was in charge of the artillery of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. He died in 1883.

Edward Owings Guerrant, born into a Presbyterian family in Kentucky, was not a practicing Christian before the War. He served as a secretary to some generals, including General John H. Morgan. Guerrant underwent a conversion experience by which he felt called to become a preacher. Roman Catholic Louisianan Felix Pierre Poche was from Louisiana volunteered for the Confederate Army in 1863. Dollar has trouble describing and examining Pocheís life because he was Catholic and his practice of faith was dissimilar to that of the other eight; the author considers Poche a Christian neophyte. Pocheís faith became more important to him later.

Dollar also considers Baptist Hiram Talbert Holt, who joined the 38th Alabama Infantry, to be a Christian neophyte at the warís outset. Giles Buckner Cooke from Virginia served as a major on the staff of several generals including Lee, Bragg, and Beauregard. A wartime convert, Cooke grew in his Episcopalian faith. Alexander Tedford Barclay was barely 17 in 1861 when he enlisted in the 4th Virginia Infantry. He became a lieutenant in 1864 and was taken prisoner that same year, to spend the rest of the war in a Union prison. His family were members of the Presbyterian Church.

Robert Augustus Moore started the War as a member of the 17th Mississippi Infantry Regiment as a private. After rising to the rank of second lieutenant in 1863, he was killed at the Battle of Chickamauga. He attended a revival at Fredericksburg in the winter of 1862-1863, where his faith began to grow. He grew up in the Methodist Church but did not practice his faith as devoutly as others did. The faith of these men grew or was found at war, when they witnessed many horrors, corruption of morals, and other un-Christian things in and out of camp.

The front of the book and the dust jacket picture illustrations of eight of the nine men. There are also other black-and-white illustrations of churches and other sites connected with these men.

In recent years, there has been an upsurge in the study about how faith intersected with the Civil War, especially for those involved as soldiers; they witnessed some truly awful things. Studies of religion on the non-military during the conflict are available as well. Dollarís book on the faith of these nine Confederate soldiers is a good examination on this topic and recommended to Civil War enthusiasts and students.

Kent T. Dollar holds a Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee, M.A. from Mississippi College, and his B.A. from the University of Southern Mississippi. He is a visiting professor of history at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville. This is his first book.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Br. Benet Exton, O.S.B., 2007

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