New exhibit examines religion during the Civil War

COLUMBIA–A new exhibit opening Oct. 7 at the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum,  located in the Columbia Mills Building at 301 Gervais St., will examine the experiences of chaplains, soldiers, and citizens while challenging guests to assess the similarities in the role that religion played for both Northerners and Southerners during the Civil War.

“Through Fiery Trials: Religion in the Civil War” will highlight Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish faiths and feature rare religious objects owned by some of the most storied figures from that  war.  The exhbit contains items on loan from the Diocese of Charleston Archives, including a special commission from Jefferson Davis to Bishop Patrick N. Lynch to serve as a special envoy to the Vatican, and vestments given to him while exiled in Europe during the war.  Other items on display include Bibles that belonged to generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, a crucifix carried into battle by General George Pickett of the famous Pickett’s charge, a Jewish sweet meat bowl, and a soldier’s Bible that was struck by a bullet and has the resulting hole through it.

Kristina Johnson, the exhibit curator, anticipates that museum visitors will walk away from this event with a different perspective on the role that religion played in the Civil War, something she said is often overlooked.

” But just as religion is a central part of our lives today, faith was key in sustaining men on the field, comforting women on the homefront, and healing a broken country struggling to rebuild itself,” she said.

“Through Fiery Trials: Religion in the Civil War” will be on display through May 2012.  Admission is included in general museum entry fees.  For more information contact Kaela Harmon at 803-737-8094 or Information is also available on

The Diocese of Charleston Archives collects official records, personal papers, and publications that document the history of Catholicism within the boundaries of the diocese and makes them available publicly.  For more information visit