Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Greene, Alison

Committee Member

Lang, Andrew

Committee Member

Marshall, Anne

Committee Member

Hay, William Anthony

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of History


My work—studying Roman Catholics in the South during the American Civil War— is a remedy to a two-directional historiographical neglect. Much of American Catholic scholarship focuses on the twentieth century (especially the Second Vatican Council and its aftermath), the North, and issues of race, class, urbanization, and gender giving sparse treatment to the nineteenth century South; when the nineteenth century is discussed the focus is once more usually on the North, immigration, and societal tensions between Catholics and Protestants. On the other hand, Civil War religious scholarship is largely Protestant in nature and while treating the nineteenth century South there is sparse coverage of how Catholicism fits within this paradigm. My work addresses both issues, adding the nineteenth century Southern voice to American Catholic scholarship and the Catholic voice to Civil War religious studies. My work is a study of allegiance and the interplay between religious and political attachments. Clergy—Catholic bishops, priests (usually chaplains), sisters, and the Pope, Pius IX—are the main characters of the study with a lay component present as well via Catholic soldiers. I argue that all of the Catholics of my study were fully “Confederatized,” committed to and involved in the Southern nation and cause, and both “devout Catholics and devoted Confederates.” They found no tension between their faith and their politics and lived both allegiances to the maximum with chaplains and soldiers the most ardent Confederates. The one exception to the “devoted Confederates” label were Catholic nuns. They were almost exclusively focused on their faith and providing spiritual and medical assistance to the men they ministered to in their role as Sister-nurses. While the Sister-nurses were apolitical their participation in the Confederate cause as battlefield medics shows the all encompassing involvement of Southern Catholics in the Confederacy—as soldiers, medics, and religious and social leaders as the bishops were, and both men and women, clergy and laity—and demonstrates that future studies of American Catholic, and Civil War religious, history can no longer overlook these men and women.