Thus far, I am impressed by how each author is handling the subject—objectively and respectfully. So many historians, writers, and commentators today seem to be on a crusade to mock, impugn, and otherwise ridicule the faith of Americans, particularly the faith of Southern Americans. Many pooh-pooh the fact that slaveholders and those who fought for the Confederacy could, in fact—as many noted scholars have written—be “friends” to their enslaved brethren and attempt to uplift their spiritual condition despite the evils of slavery.
As Dr. Brinsfield writes in the preface of his book:
“Even as I was compiling and editing these records, new insights began to emerge. Many of the Confederate chaplains wrote that they opposed secession and submitted to it only when was inevitable. At least two of these memoirs date from 1861 to 1864, before the war ended. Moreover, some of the ministers who became chaplains were active in ministry to slaves. They spoke out both before and during the war against the neglect and abuse of those held in bondage. For example, Rev. John L. Girardeau formed a large mission church for slaves in Charleston, South Carolina, before the war; Rev. Isaac Tichenor criticized the abuses of the slave system before the Alabama Legislature in 1863, and Chaplain Charles Oliver preached to black laborers in the Army of Northern Virginia in 1864 and believed more needed to be done for them. While these efforts may appear trivial in the face of the enormity of the entire slave system, they do reflect that a social conscience was not completely lacking among the Southern chaplains.” (My emphasis)
Brinsfield experienced the same thing that I did while researching my book about Stonewall Jackson’s Christian faith and his black Sunday school. Unfortunately, a strange, vehement hatred of anything associated with the Confederacy (and even Christianity) clouds the objectivity of many modern historians. This is unfortunate as it tends to destroy their credibility when they might otherwise have something worthy to contribute to the topic.
Brinsfield concludes his preface with this paragraph:
“It has been a privilege to compile and edit these memoirs as some of the best written by eyewitnesses during or after the war. The chaplains who wrote them deserve to be remembered. They should be counted among the finest clergy
Additionally, along these same lines, many secular historians and writers sneer at the concept of “heroes”—even though they often speak glowingly of some of the baser elements of modern society; revealing that they too have heroes, but not the ones that traditionalists would admire. The Washingtons, Jeffersons, Madisons, Lees, and Jacksons are all Eurocentric demons who oppressed the masses while any person who tends to have an anti-Western culture philosophy or position can be counted on to receive their flowery accolades.
While I am certainly no scholar, it does not take a genius to see this rather transparent attack on Western culture and, more specifically,