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Department/School of the Primary Author

History and Government

Keywords

United States, history, Civil War, moral aspects, religious aspects, music, songs, hymns, biblical language

DOI

10.15385/jch.2019.4.1.3

Abstract

Both Union and Confederate soldiers claimed the same moral confidence about being on the right side of the American Civil War. Significant studies have evaluated the religiosity of the Civil War, but the religious content of songs and hymns, namely their use of biblical language has not been studied for the insight into a religious interpretation of the war they provide. Because the moral claims appear in songs and hymns and utilize biblical language to interpret the conflict, their role in the war, and the expected outcome, this research is important to provide a full understanding of religion’s role in the Civil War. This paper argues that the biblical language in Civil War era songs and hymns, both as borrowed biblical vocabulary and as textual and narrative allusions, reveals a religious interpretation of the war. The findings of this survey analysis show that both sides claimed God’s providence, believing He was active in the world, fighting for His people, bringing justice and peace, guarding and delivering, providing safety and victory. Both sides viewed their fighting as righteous and overcoming evil. This research provides greater insight into the religious dimensions of the Civil War and broadens our understanding of how the nation comprehended the conflict that divided these people.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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