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A Soldier’s Faith: The Civil War Experiences and Reflections of William Porcher DuBose

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 August 2018

Abstract

The noted Episcopal theologian William Porcher DuBose was a seminarian when the American Civil War began. He was torn between continuing his studies for ordination and joining the Confederate Army. He felt duty bound to defend his homeland, and he served heroically, wounded in combat, and taken as a prisoner of war. Troubled by the senselessness and inhumanity of war, he was eventually ordained and served as a military chaplain. He devoted himself to faith and ministry when he realized his country and culture were lost. DuBose vividly presents his views on war and faith in his wartime correspondence with his fiancée and later wife Anne Barnwell Perroneau, and other writings. His experiences of loss and poverty were the basis for his theology of the cross and his understanding of the role of suffering in the Christian life, and he subsequently dedicated himself to faith, peace, and reconciliation.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© The Journal of Anglican Studies Trust 2018 

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References

2. See Pittenger, W. Norman, ‘The Significance of DuBose’s Theology’, in William Porcher DuBose, Unity in the Faith (ed. W. Norman Pittenger; Greenwich, CT: Seabury Press, 1957), p. 21 Google Scholar.

3. DuBose’s seven books of theology were The Soteriology of the New Testament (New York: Macmillan, 1892); The Ecumenical Councils, Vol. 3 of Ten Epochs of Church History (ed. John Fulton; New York: Christian Literature Company, 1896); The Gospel in the Gospels (New York: Longmans, Green & Co., 1906); The Gospel According to Saint Paul (New York: Longmans, Green & Co., 1907); High Priesthood and Sacrifice: An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews (New York: Longmans, Green & Co., 1908); The Reason of Life (New York: Longmans, Green & Co., 1911); and Turning Points in my Life (New York: Longmans, Green & Co., 1912). The 11 essays originally published by DuBose in The Constructive Quarterly: A Journal of the Faith, Work, and Thought of Christendom were published in Pittenger (ed.), Unity in the Faith. This volume also included DuBose’s essay, ‘Christian Defense’, originally published in W.M. Groton (ed.), The Sunday School Teacher’s Manual (Philadelphia: G.W. Jacobs, 1911). Two anthologies of DuBose’s writings are Jon Alexander, OP (ed.), William Porcher DuBose, Selected Writings (Sources of American Spirituality; New York: Paulist Press, 1988); and Donald S. Armentrout (comp.), A DuBose Reader: Selections from the Writings of William Porcher DuBose (Sewanee, TN: University of the South Press, 1984).

4. DuBose, Turning Points, p. 15.

5. See Boak Slocum, Robert, The Theology of William Porcher DuBose: Life, Movement, and Being (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2000), p. 44 Google Scholar.

6. See Robert Boak Slocum, The Anglican Imagination: Portraits and Sketches of Modern Anglican Theologians (Farnham, Surrey, and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2015 Google Scholar; repr. London and New York: Routledge, 2016), p. 15.

7. See Slocum, Robert B., ‘DuBose, William Porcher’, in Patrick W. Carey and Joseph T. Lienhard (eds.), Biographical Dictionary of Christian Theologians (Westport, CT and London: Greenwood Press, 2000), p. 162 Google Scholar.

8. DuBose, Turning Points, p. 8.

9. DuBose, The Reason of Life, 30. See Slocum, The Theology of William Porcher DuBose, pp. 1-6.

10. ‘DuBose, William Porcher (Apr. 11, 1836–Aug. 18, 1918)’, in Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum (eds.), An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User-Friendly Reference for Episcopalians (New York: Church Publishing, 2000), p. 155.

11. Moberly, W.H., ‘The Theology of Dr. DuBose’, Journal of Theological Studies 9 (January, 1908), pp. 161-187 CrossRefGoogle Scholar (161).

12. Sidney Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1972), pp. 727-728 Google Scholar.

13. William Sanday, The Life of Christ in Recent Research (New York: Oxford University Press, 1908), p. 281 Google Scholar.

14. Unlike Presbyterians, Methodists, and Baptists, the Episcopal Church was not divided along sectional lines over slavery prior to the outbreak of the American Civil War. After the outbreak of war, Episcopal leaders in the south formed the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America, ‘a denomination whose constitution, canon laws, prayer book, and organization almost exactly mirrored those of the church in the United States’. Hein, David and Shattuck, Gardiner H. Jr., The Episcopalians (New York: Church Publishing, 2004), pp. 76-78 Google Scholar. After the war, Presiding Bishop John Henry Hopkins was conciliatory and encouraged the southern bishops to attend the 1865 General Convention. Henry C. Lay, Bishop of Arkansas, and Thomas Atkinson, Bishop of North Carolina, attended the General Convention and were well received. The dioceses of the Confederate Episcopal Church subsequently resumed their former status in the Episcopal Church after a General Council of the Confederate Episcopal Church later that year, thereby ending the Confederate Episcopal Church. Hein and Shattuck, The Episcopalians, pp. 79-80. See Thayer Addison, James, The Episcopal Church in the United States, 1789–1931 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1951), pp. 198-199 Google Scholar.

15. William Porcher DuBose, ‘Letter to Anne Barnwell Peronneau’, November 4, 1861, Camden, South Carolina, in W. Eric Emerson and Karen Stokes (eds.), Faith, Valor, and Devotion: The Civil War Letters of William Porcher DuBose (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2010), pp. 17-18. DuBose’s collected Civil War letters were written during the period October 1861–April 1865. The original letters are archived at the South Carolina Historical Society in Charleston, South Carolina. William Porcher DuBose and Anne Barnwell Peronneau were married on April 30, 1863. William Porcher DuBose, ‘The Reminiscences of William Porcher DuBose, D.D., S.T.D’, p. 120. Unpublished autobiographical reflections compiled by William Haskell DuBose, 1946. Manuscript available in the School of Theology Library, University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee.

16. DuBose, ‘Letter to Annie Barnwell Peronneau’, November 4, 1861, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, p. 18.

17. William Porcher DuBose, ‘Letter to Anne Barnwell Peronneau’, November 11, 1861, Camden, South Carolina, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, p. 21.

18. Anne Barnwell Peronneau, ‘Letter to William Porcher DuBose’, November 10, 1861, Charleston, South Carolina, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, pp. 19-20.

19. W. Eric Emerson and Karen Stokes, ‘Introduction’, in Emerson and Stokes, Faith, Valor and Devotion: pp. xiii-xxix (xvii). The Holcombe Legion was named in honor of Lucy Holcombe Pickens, wife of South Carolina Governor Francis Pickens.

20. DuBose, ‘Reminiscences’, p. 69.

21. DuBose, ‘Reminiscences’, pp. 69-70.

22. William Porcher DuBose, ‘Letter to Anne Barnwell Perroneau’, July 13, 1862, Camp Hope, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, p. 74.

23. William Porcher DuBose, ‘Letter to Anne Barnwell Perroneau’, March 9, 1863, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, p. 148.

24. William Porcher DuBose, ‘Letter to Anne Barnwell Perroneau DuBose’, July 11, 1863, Jackson, Mississippi, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, p. 192.

25. William Porcher DuBose, ‘Letter to Anne Barnwell Perroneau’, March 1, 1863, Holcombe Legion, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, p. 143.

26. William Porcher DuBose, ‘Letter to Anne Barnwell Perroneau’, March 4, 1863, Holcombe Legion, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, p. 144.

27. William Porcher DuBose, ‘Letter to Anne Barnwell Perroneau’, June 11, 1863, Jackson, Mississippi, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, p. 175.

28. William Porcher DuBose, ‘Letter to Anne Barnwell Perroneau DuBose’, August 15, 1863, Isle of Hope, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, p. 206.

29. DuBose, ‘Reminiscences’, pp. 125-26.

30. See Emerson and Stokes, Faith, Valor, and Devotion, p. xxiii; Wilson, Charles Reagan, Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause, 1865–1920 (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1980), p. 148 Google Scholar; Chitty, Arthur Benjamin Jr., Reconstruction at Sewanee: The Founding of the University of the South and its First Administration, 1857–1872 (Sewanee, TN: University Press, 1954), p. 142 Google Scholar, n. 1; Slocum, The Theology of William Porcher DuBose, pp. 2-3.

31. DuBose, ‘Reminiscences’, p. 84; Emerson and Stokes, ‘Introduction’, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, p. xix.

32. DuBose, ‘Reminiscences’, pp. 85-88; Emerson and Stokes, ‘Introduction’, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, p. xix.

33. DuBose, ‘Reminiscences’, p. 89; Emerson and Stokes, ‘Introduction’, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, pp. xix, xxvii, n. 22.

34. DuBose, ‘Reminiscences’, p. 95.

35. DuBose, ‘Reminiscences’, pp. 95-96; Emerson and Stokes, ‘Introduction’, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, p. xx.

36. DuBose, Turning Points in my Life, p. 37. In 1911, the fortieth anniversary of DuBose’s coming to Sewanee, there was a reunion of his former students at the University of the South on August 2–6. DuBose read autobiographical papers at the morning sessions of the reunion. These autobiographical papers and other materials were published as his Turning Points in my Life.

37. DuBose, Turning Points, pp. 37-38.

38. Fort Delaware was located near the canal that connects the Chesapeake Bay with Delaware Bay. DuBose, ‘Reminiscences’, p. 102. Fort Delaware is located on Pea Patch Island in the Delaware River.

39. DuBose, ‘Reminiscences’, pp. 102-103.

40. DuBose, ‘Reminiscences’, p. 103.

41. William Porcher DuBose, ‘Letter to Anne Barnwell Perroneau DuBose’, June 11, 1863, Jackson, Mississippi, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, pp. 174-75.

42. William Porcher DuBose, ‘Letter to Anne Barnwell Perroneau’, October 9–10, 1862, Richmond, Virginia, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, 103. On October 8 he wrote Nannie that he ‘reached Richmond yesterday’ (William Porcher DuBose, ‘Letter to Anne Barnwell Perroneau’, October 8, 1862, Richmond, Virginia, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, p. 100). DuBose was officially exchanged on November 10, 1862 (Emerson and Stokes, ‘Introduction’, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, p. xxi).

43. DuBose, ‘Reminiscences’, p. 117-18; Emerson and Stokes, ‘Introduction’, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, pp. xxi-xxii.

44. DuBose, ‘Reminiscences’, pp. 118-19; Emerson and Stokes, ‘Introduction’, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, p. xxii.

45. William Porcher DuBose, ‘Letter to Anne Barnwell Perroneau’, December 16, 1862, Hospital Goldsboro, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, p. 120.

46. William Porcher DuBose, ‘Letter to Anne Barnwell Perroneau DuBose’, July 5, 1863, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, p. 187.

47. DuBose, ‘Reminiscences’, pp. 133-34.

48. DuBose, Turning Points, pp. 48-49. See Slocum, The Theology of William Porcher DuBose, pp. 6-7; Emerson and Stokes, ‘Introduction’, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, p. xxv.

49. DuBose, Turning Points, pp. 49-50.

50. Gardiner H. Shattuck, Jr., A Shield and Hiding Place: The Religious Life of the Civil War Armies (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1987), p. 125.

51. William Porcher DuBose, ‘Letter to Anne Barnwell Perroneau DuBose’, October 31, 1864, New Market, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, p. 321. Emerson and Stokes identify DuBose’s reference of ‘the 19th’ with Cedar Creek in their ‘Introduction’ to Faith, Valor, and Devotion, pp. xxv, xxix n. 49.

52. DuBose, ‘Reminiscences’, p. 80.

53. DuBose, ‘Reminiscences’, pp. 149-50. William Haskell DuBose compiled his father’s ‘Reminiscences’ after DuBose told him the stories.

54. Sidney Thomas, Albert, A Historical Account of the Protestant Episcopal Church in South Carolina, 1820–1957, Being a Continuation of Dalcho’s Account, 1670–1820 (Columbia, SC: R.L. Bryan Company, 1957), p. 625 Google Scholar. See DuBose, ‘Reminiscences’, p. 141.

55. DuBose, Turning Points, p. 39.

56. DuBose, ‘Reminiscences’, p. 139.

57. See DuBose, Turning Points; Faith, Valor, and Devotion. DuBose did not attack or defend the institution of slavery in his writings. DuBose’s family owned 204 slaves in 1860 (Emerson and Stokes, ‘Introduction’, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, p. xv). DuBose considered the future of their family plantation in a letter to Nannie in 1864: ‘There is not a better nor more devoted set of negroes in the state than ours. I would be glad if Farmington could be kept up, but I disapprove of owning negroes if you cannot live with them’ (William Porcher DuBose, ‘Letter to Annie Barnwell Perroneau DuBose’, March 4, 1864, Greenville, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, pp. 249–50). DuBose’s body servant William went with him to the Civil War. DuBose frequently mentions him when he sends news home to Nannie in letters. On one occasion DuBose tells Nannie ‘I have sent William home on a short furlough. He has served me faithfully & cheerfully & so far from applying for permission to go, seemed to dislike going without me’ (William Porcher DuBose, ‘Letter to Annie Barnwell Perroneau DuBose’, September 19, 1863, Mt. Pleasant, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, p. 216). William returned home with DuBose after the war (Emerson and Stokes, ‘Epilogue’, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, p. 334).

58. DuBose, ‘Reminiscences’, p. 138.

59. DuBose, Turning Points, p. 51.

60. DuBose, ‘Reminiscences’, pp. 144-46.

61. DuBose, ‘Reminiscences’, pp. 153-54. See Slocum, The Theology of William Porcher DuBose, pp. 6-8.

62. DuBose, Turning Points, p. 87.

63. William Porcher DuBose, ‘Transfiguration Sermon’, in Turning Points, pp. 120-21. The sermon was preached by DuBose on the Feast of the Transfiguration, Sunday, August 6, 1911, the last day of the reunion, in the University Chapel, the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee.

64. See Slocum, The Theology of William Porcher DuBose, 8.

65. DuBose, ‘Transfiguration Sermon’, in Turning Points, p. 118.

66. William Porcher DuBose, ‘Letter to Anne Barnwell Perroneau’, November 23, 1862, Dismal Swamp, near Kinston, North Carolina, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, p. 117.

67. William Porcher DuBose, ‘Letter to Anne Barnwell Perroneau DuBose’, October 18, 1864, Fisher’s Hill, Virginia, in Faith, Valor, and Devotion, p. 319.

68. DuBose, The Ecumenical Councils, p. 85. See Slocum, The Theology of William Porcher DuBose, p. 64.

69. DuBose, The Gospel in the Gospels, p. 271. See Slocum, The Theology of William Porcher DuBose, p. 64.

70. DuBose, The Reason of Life, p. 1. See Slocum, The Theology of William Porcher DuBose, p. 103.

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