In the bloody Civil War that split our nation, American bishops worked for the success of the Union . . . and of the Confederacy! As Catholics slaughtered Catholics, pious priests on both sides prayed God to give success in battle. . . to their own side. Men in blue and men in gray flinched at the Consecration as cannonballs (fired by Catholic opponents) rained down on them during battlefield Masses.
Many are the moving - and often surprising - stories in these pages of brave Catholics on both sides of the conflict - stories told by Fr. Charles Connor, one of our country's foremost experts on Catholic American history.
Through searing anecdotes and learned analysis, Fr. Connor here shows how the tumult, tragedy, and bravery of the War forged a new American identity, even as it created a new American Catholic identity, as Catholics - often new immigrants - found themselves on both sides of the conflict.
Fr. Connor's account shows that in the nineteenth century and on both sides of the conflict, the Church in America was a combination of visionary leadership and moral blindness - much as is the Church in America today. From consideration of the strengths and weaknesses of both sides, Catholics today will discover ways to bridge the gulf that today divides so many in our Church - and in our nation.