“All the Land Thrown Open:” Southern Culture and Southern Baptist Chaplains: 1861-1865
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Southern Baptist chaplains informed Confederate culture and religious belief during the American Civil War by contributing to a unique narrative of Southern identity. One sees the narrative through the letters and sermons of these chaplains to the working- class soldiery. Encompassed in Southern culture were nationalism, honor, and slaveholder theology, which validated slaveholding whites in the deep South. Southern nationalism saw the Confederacy as a new nation, blessed by God, and continuing the providential spirit of the Revolution. Likewise, their nation could only survive by God’s aid. Southern honor, largely shaped by Sir Walter Scott, spirited chivalrous attitudes towards women, pugilism, and one’s rank in his community. Slaveholder theology saw their position as one mandated by the Scripture for the betterment of both whites and blacks. Through the propagation of these three tenets, Southern Baptist chaplains sought, in part, to perpetuate dedication to the Confederacy in the hearts of fighting men.