Monday, January 24, 2011

A Book On Notre Dame and the American Civil War Is Reviewed- "Notre Dame in the Civil War"

I have to get this book called "Notre Dame in the Civil War " . It looks very promising. American Catholic gives its a nice review here.

I was very pleased via that link to discover the author has a blog himself which talks about his book and his experiences writing it!! See Notre Dame in the Civil War A blog chronicling the research and writing of my forthcoming book, "Notre Dame in the Civil War: Marching Onward to Victory" (The History Press, 2010).

In my view Catholics and the American Civil War is still one of those under researched subjects. That is strange because there are so many interesting story lines.

One reason I really want to read this book is it mentions a Holy Cross Priest by the name Joseph C. Carrier, CSC. See the authors post:
Notre Dame Civil War Chaplain Profile #3 - Fr. Joseph C. Carrier .

Father Carrier appears to have been with Grant a good part of the war . This includes the Siege of Vicksburg that has always held a great fascination to me. Whenever I am in Vicksburg I take take some time to go the Park. This is also an area where Confederates might have some real personal interaction with Catholic lay folks, clerics and especially nuns which no doubt gave a positive impression that lasted a lifetime.

Returning to Father Carrier , I am hoping very much that the book leads me to to where perhaps Father Carrier talked about his wartime life in some detail.

There was a good interview with the author that is worth a read at
Confederate Book Review at the post Interview--Jim Schmidt: Notre Dame and the Civil War.

It's a interview that hits on many topic but this part got my attention:

CBR: Can you briefly describe William T. Sherman's association with Notre Dame and the value of his papers to your research?

On his own, General Sherman might never have been connected with Notre Dame. Sherman's wife, Ellen Ewing, was related to the Gillespie and Phelan families, both of which had strong connections to the university and her sister school, St. Mary's…the Shermans sent their children Willy, Minnie, and Tommy to Notre Dame and St. Mary's during the war…Ellen Sherman arranged for Notre Dame to send one of its priests – the aforementioned Fr. Joseph Carrier - as a chaplain to Grant's army at Vicksburg…Fr. Carrier was at the bedside of the Sherman's young son Willy when he died of "camp fever" at Memphis in 1863…General Sherman gave the commencement address at Notre Dame in 1865.

1959, Miss Eleanor Sherman Fitch, the granddaughter of General Sherman, deposited the “William Tecumseh Sherman Family Papers,” in the University of Notre Dame Archives. The university archives has an excellent online finding aid for the Papers, including hyperlinks to actual images and/or transcripts of material.

The Papers were especially helpful in yielding correspondence between Ellen and the general about sending their children to Notre Dame and St. Mary’s and between the general and his children while they were at school.

*Any* serious scholarship about Sherman or his family begins with the Papers at Notre Dame.

I will be looking at those archives a lot!! I am one of those weird Southerners that is actually sort of a General Sherman apologist . I think in essence history and indeed Southern history have given him a raw deal. Besides one other important Louisiana politico no one seems rushing to correct what I view as an injustice. That is not ONE BUILDING ONE STREET ONE NOTHING is named after him at LSU where of course he was the first Superintendent. Well that is another battle for another day

I have mentioned Sherman's Catholic connections before. Those connections include his son , who had an interesting life to say as the least, who was a Jesuit Priest and is in fact buried in Louisiana.

Sherman of course goes down in history as the General that brought us the total war or what came to be know as modern warfare. If he actually was the first to do that is subject to debate.

Regardless it would indeed be interesting to see how that Catholic Priests, well educated or at least aware of a Just War tradition that includes RULES OF WAR, thought of Shermans and indeed Grants tactics. Did they view it as something new on the scene? How did they react? Did any of them at the time or more likely later in life examine the morality of military actions on both sides via the rules of war. Again an area that I think is overlooked.

Civil War history in the South seems full of stories where Yankee Catholics threaten to revolt if Cathedral X was burned or This Church to our Lady of X was destroyed. I am not saying all these stories are true but one runs across them. That brings up the interesting question of the role that priest like Carrier and others served in areas with significant Catholic populations. Did they act as liaisons at times between the Union Commanders and the local Bishop and other local Catholic authority figures?

One can just imagine the situation in New Orleans for instance which I suspect was quite tense under the not so great Union Leadership of General Butler.

For all the horror of the Civil War it did produce the good effect of lessening anti Catholic tensions in this nation to some degree. This book appears to be a good contribution in giving us insight on that story.


Jim Schmidt said...

James - Thanks so much for the kind note about my book! What GREAT questions! Please (please!) send me an e-mail at schmidtjamesm at gmail dot co...I'll see what I can do about getting you a review copy. Tried sending a message to your listed e-mail on your profile but it bounced. All My best, jms

James H said...

Wow Thanks!!! Just noticed your comment. When I get back in town today I will email you!!

Jim Schmidt said...

James - sorry about probably guessed already but it is schmidtjamesm at gmail dot com (not "co")

God Bless