This image is the cover for the book Soldiers of the Cross, the Authoritative Text

Soldiers of the Cross, the Authoritative Text

“Students of the Civil War, Catholic history, and women’s history, among others, will welcome [Soldiers of the Cross] . . . Brilliantly edited.” —Randall M. Miller, co-editor of Religion and the American Civil War

Shortly after the Civil War, an Irish Catholic journalist and war veteran named David Power Conyngham began compiling the stories of Catholic chaplains and nuns who served during the conflict. His manuscript, Soldiers of the Cross, is the fullest record written during the nineteenth century of the Catholic Church’s involvement in the Civil War, as it documents the service of fourteen chaplains and six female religious communities, representing both North and South. 

Many of Conyngham’s chapters contain new insights into the clergy during the war that are unavailable elsewhere, either during his time or ours, making the work invaluable to Catholic and Civil War historians. The introduction contains over a dozen letters written between 1868 and 1870 from high-ranking Confederate and Union officials, such as Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Union Surgeon General William Hammond, and Union General George B. McClellan, who praise the church’s services during the war. Chapters on Fathers William Corby and Peter P. Cooney, as well as the Sisters of the Holy Cross, cover subjects relatively well known to Catholic scholars, yet other chapters are based on personal letters and other important primary sources that have not been published prior to this book.

Due to Conyngham’s untimely death, Soldiers of the Cross remained unpublished, hidden away in an archive for more than a century. Now annotated and edited so as to be readable and useful to scholars and modern readers, this long-awaited publication of Soldiers of the Cross is a fitting presentation of Conyngham’s last great work

David Power Conyngham, David Jeffrey Endres, William B. Kurtz

University of Notre Dame Press