Civil War Era

Civil War ChaliceFound this picture of a chalice used in the Civil War on a website about an exhibition at the Loyola University Museum of Art.  The website describes this chalice as follows:

Civil War Chalice

Ca. 1850-1865
Brass with remnants of silver plate.
4.5” x 4.5” x 7”

This chalice is reputed to have been used by Jesuit chaplains at Masses on Civil War battlefields. It is not known whether it was used on the Union or Confederate side, and this borderland ambiguity reflects the position of Missouri in general and the city of Saint Louis in particular. From the state’s origins in the Missouri Compromise (1820) through the infamous Dred Scott case (1847-1857) —- a case which rested in part on Saint Louis’s geographical location on the Mississippi River border separating slave-state Missouri and free-state Illinois —- into the St. Louis Riot of May 11, 1861, Missouri formed an ambiguous frontier between north and south, east and west (“gateway to the west”). (The first Jesuits to cross from Maryland and settle in Saint Louis had brought their slaves with them.) The ambiguity carried into the Civil War in which Missouri was a slave state under Union control. Throughout the war, Saint Louis was a city of divided loyalties that pitted against one another members of businesses, congregations, families —- and, presumably, the Saint Louis Jesuits, especially those of different Belgian and German-speaking origins.

It is fitting, then, that we do not know whether this chalice was used by a Confederate Jesuit chaplain or a Union Jesuit chaplain. What is certain is that the soldiers who attended Mass on the battlefield would have believed that this chalice truly held the blood of Christ, and that this sacrificial blood, in some mysterious sense, helped make sense of the blood shed all around them.

Lender: Midwest Jesuit Archives, Saint Louis, Missouri

The above description and accompanying photo is from Crossings and Dwellings.

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Civil War Worship Altar set-up

Portion of famous Matthew Brady photograph of Chaplain Mooney conducting mass for the 69th New York State Militia encamped at Fort Corcoran, before the First Battle of Bull Run 21 July 1861.

While not an officially issued “chaplain kit,” this close up of Chaplain Mooney conducting mass for the 69th New York State Militia encamped at Fort Corcoran, before the First Battle of Bull Run 21 July 1861 shows the altar set-up for a Roman Catholic service for Soldiers in the field (Photo: Matthew Brady, public domain).

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Civil War Roman Catholic Altar

Chaplain P.P. Cooney celebrating Mass, Easter 1864.

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A similar Roman Catholic altar set-up can be seen a bit better in this artist’s rendering of Chaplain P.P. Cooney, C.S.C. Chaplain General of Ind. Troops in the Field, celebrating mass for the troops Easter, 1864.

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Civil War Mass

Ninth Massachusetts Infantry Camp near Washington, D.C., 1861. Men of an Irish-American regiment and their chaplain pause before celebrating mass at Camp Cass, Virginia (Library of Congress).

 

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This worship service of the Ninth Massachusetts Infantry in 1861 shows a similar altar set-up as those above. This one, however, shows a crucifix attached to the front of the larger cross in front of the altar.

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Chaplain Nicholas Davis of the 4th Texas Infantry Hood's Brigade

Chaplain Nicholas Davis of the 4th Texas Infantry, Hood’s Brigade was photographed wearing a very dark, presumably black, frock coat with a single row of gilt or brass buttons and a bit of non-regulation lace on the cuffs. Davis’ sartorial excess was no doubt attributable to the fact that he was a Presbyterian. This may be a studio portrait, but “altar” set-up could be similar to what a Protestant chaplain may use in the field with a Bible and two candles (photo from http://civilwartalk.com/threads/civil-war-chaplain-outfit.81491/)

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Jewish Kiddish Cup

Civil War era Jewish Kiddish Cup, dated 1862, likely similar to what was used by Jewish Chaplains during the Civil War. On display at the National Civil War Chaplains Museum.

Civil War Jewish Chaplain

A likely set-up for Jewish worship during the Civil War, on display at the National Civil War Chaplains Museum.

 

 According to a Liberty University website, (Refering to the picture at right) “These communion dishes and chaplain’s robe are a few of the artifacts housed in the National Civil War Chaplains Museum on the Liberty University campus.” Pictured is the Homan Sick-Call Outift. The set that I have (identical to the one pictured at right) is marked as being patented in 1897, so couldn’t have been used during the Civil War.  It’s possible, however, that similar sets could have been.

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Civil War Chaplain Lap Organ

Lap Organ used by Chaplain William J. Joyce, 2nd Texas Cavalry, on display at the National Civil War Chaplains Museum

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