Baptists and the American Civil War: In Their Own Words is a digital project created and authored by historian Bruce T. Gourley (email). The documentary material is drawn from a wide range of sources, both online and offline, with citations and source links allowing interested readers to further explore items of particular interest.*
A historian (PhD, Auburn), Bruce is the Executive Director of the Baptist History & Heritage Society, online editor of Baptists Today news journal, the author of six books, and a photographer and Internet entrepreneur.
The site is an offshoot of Bruce’s research for his book, Diverging Loyalties: Baptists in Middle Georgia During the Civil War, published in 2011.
The timing of this project is in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. It is a day-by-day journal of the Baptist experience during the Civil War, with an emphasis on Baptists North and South; white, black and Native American; male and female; and soldiers, officers, ministers and laypersons. Quotes from Baptist individuals and groups are featured prominently.
The daily entries are a sampling of the Baptist experience during the Civil War, and are primarily drawn from primary documentary material available on the Internet, in order that interested persons might have the opportunity to dig deeper into the stories if they wish. In some instances, primary sources utilized are only available in physical archives.
Other individuals who have contributed material to this site are accordingly credited.
Here are a few reviews of the site:
“You are performing a great service, giving historians and others access to sources of which most (of us) are not aware or to which we do not have easy access. I did a first sampling, on the slavery question. I’m hooked. I will be spending many hours with the materials – maybe “there went my summer.” I’ll do what I can to call attention to the site.” – Martin E. Marty, Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of the History of Modern Christianity in the University of Chicago Divinity School
… a terrific resource for scholars working on all sorts of subjects, as well as those interested in Baptist history of the religious history of the Civil War, in particular. The daily journal features short bits of information and analysis on the events of that day 150 years ago … Congratulations to Bruce Gourley on making his research and interests available in this wonderfully accessible way, and in incorporating the best scholarship in doing so.” – Paul Harvey, Professor of American History, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
“Wow, what an excellent project. Superb work.” – Mark Wilson, Historian, Auburn University
“Impressive …. Those who say history is boring are looking in the wrong places. [This] website is insightful and engaging. Astute readers of history end up with more than facts in their heads. They learn to view the future through the experiences of the past.” – John Pierce, Executive Editor, Baptists Today News Journal
More site reviews are available here.
Baptists and the American Civil War: In Their Own Words is provided freely to the general public. If you or your organization or business would like to be a sponsor of this public service site, please read the sponsor qualifications page.
Site feedback, comments, and suggestions for Baptist Civil War material for inclusion on this site are welcome. Please contact Bruce.
* Most primary material utilized for this project is available online and accessible to the general public. Some referenced links may be discontinued over time; in such cases, the material may still be available in cached form in Google search. Source links for illustrations are provided for the first use of a given illustration.