In the borderland between freedom and slavery, Gettysburg remains among the most legendary Civil War landmarks. A century and a half after the great battle, Cemetery Hill, the Seminary and its ridge, and the Peach Orchard remain powerful memories for their embodiment of the small-town North and their ability to touch themes vital to nineteenth-century religion. During this period, three patterns became particularly prominent: refinement, diversity, and war. In Gettysburg Religion, author Steve Longenecker explores the religious history of antebellum and Civil War–era Gettysburg, shedding light on the remarkable diversity of American religion and the intricate ways it interacted with the broader culture. Longenecker argues that Gettysburg religion revealed much about larger American society and about how trends in the Border North mirrored national developments. In many ways, Gettysburg and its surrounding Border North religion belonged to the future and signaled a coming pattern for modern America.
This book should be of special interest to American Lutheran scholars because of the exploration of the theme 'refinement' that Longnecker uses to define the way that the college and seminary leaders understood how religion and public life should relate to each other.
Clear and engaging . . . Gettysburg Religion offers a local lens to see some of the surprising diversity of American religion and some of the interesting ways that religion interacts with the broader culture.
—Ruth Alden Doan
This elegant and graceful study illuminates our understanding of America at the time of the Civil War in a remarkable way. It shines a subtle light into religion, private life, and public struggles, revealing living people among familiar shadows of the past. There is no other book like it.
—Edward L. Ayers
Author of In the Presence of Mine Enemies: Civil War in the Heart of America
Longnecker's style is engaging and his prose elegant. His satisfying monograph is enlivened even more by the inclusion of what he calls 'divertimenti', brief vignettes throughout the text highlighting the stories of individual Gettysburg residents or families whose lives exemplify the themes of refinement, diversity, or war. Well worth a read. . .
Longenecker has done an impressive job of research, bringing to light much that has previously been absent from works on the Battle of Gettysburg or on religion in the Civil War. His book is a welcome addition to both areas of study, worthy of reading by scholars of the Civil War, American religion, and Pennsylvania history.
Texas Christian University