Sam Davis Elliott, ed. Doctor Quintard, Chaplain C.S.A. and Second Bishop of Tennessee: The Memoir and Civil War Diary of Charles Todd Quintard. Baton Rogue: Louisiana State University Press, 2003. xxii + 285 pp. $39.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8071-2846-6.
Reviewed by James Baugess (Humanities Department, Columbus State Community College)
Published on H-CivWar (December, 2003)
The Life and Times of a Confederate Cleric
The Life and Times of a Confederate Cleric
For Doctor Quintard, Chaplain C.S.A. and Second Bishop of Tennessee, Sam Davis Elliott, a Tennessee attorney, has compiled and annotated one of the finest memoir and diary collections in the Confederate canon. Charles Todd Quintard, physician and Episcopal priest, enjoyed a fascinating career of public and clerical service. Born in Connecticut in 1824, educated at the University of New York, he migrated to the South as a young man and set up a successful medical practice. After hearing the sermon of an eloquent Episcopal pastor, he resolved to enter the ministry. Soon after the secession of Tennessee, the First Tennessee Regiment invited him to serve as their chaplain. As a medical doctor and a chaplain, Quintard often served in these dual capacities, regularly healing and preaching to his soldiers.
Quintard met General Lee, spent a night with Nathan Bedford Forrest, and conducted the funeral of Pat Cleburne. He witnessed action at Cheat Mountain, Big Swell Mountain, Winchester, Romney, Norfolk, Perryville, Murfreesboro, Shelbyville, Chickamauga, Atlanta, and Franklin. He viewed the war and its carnage firsthand and wrote eloquently about it.
Quintard used his diary, newspaper clippings, sermon manuscripts, oral testimony, and letters from veterans to write his memoir, which he compiled in 1896. After his death, in 1898, Reverend Arthur Howard Noll, historian and archivist at Quintard's beloved University of the South, wrote the introduction and the epilogue. The final manuscript, published in 1905, remained out of print for most of the twentieth century. Based on nine primary source and archival collections, thirty-three published memoirs, and six newspapers of the period, Elliott included a new introduction and added helpful footnotes to give context to the diary. The end result is an insightful look at the heart and mind of one of the Confederacy's great chaplains. The narrative is full of pathos, humor, and irony.
The first three quarters of the work contain the autobiography of Quintard, finished posthumously by his friend Arthur Noll in 1905. The last quarter is the diary fragment, covering the period from early 1864 until shortly after the war. The purpose of this collection, according to the editor, Sam Elliott, was to "reintroduce Doctor Quintard to the modern reader in annotated form" (p. xiv). Elliott wisely chose to append the unedited diary because in doing so, it reveals the "writer's unvarnished viewpoints during the momentous final months of the war" (p. xv). The annotations and notes added by Elliott clarify much of the detail, and some of the annotations correct Quintard's spelling--and sometimes his facts. Elliott took the liberty of "eliminating many of Quintard's shorthand devices, such as the use of the plus sign or ampersand for the word and or the abbreviation 'Ch' for church" (p. xvi). These minor clarifications and alterations keep the narrative moving.
In terms of the audience, several groups will draw value from the both the posthumous memoir and the diary fragment. Because Quintard witnessed so much of the carnage of battle, and often stayed near the front, his diary informs military historians how the heat of battle looked to a non-combatant. Those interested in the new military history, which focuses on how war impacts civilians, will find much useful information in this work. Coinciding with recent interest in the religion of the war, this compilation adds to our knowledge of the religious life of the Confederacy.
Though not a traditional evangelical or revivalist, Quintard seized evangelistic opportunities, especially the conversion of Braxton Bragg and John Bell Hood (who stood on crutches to receive baptism). His diary entries and memoir sections regarding these two prominent generals are moving to read. Quintard's account of the last-moment reprieve of a deserter, while sitting on his coffin and waiting for execution, is exciting.
Much of the historiography about religion in the war has centered on the great rebel revival that occurred in the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of Tennessee. Quintard's unit, part of the Army of Tennessee, apparently experienced a great revival around Chattanooga and Dalton, yet Quintard makes no mention of it. It is odd that one so knowledgeable and eloquent about religious matters would not mention such dramatic events. There is much debate as to the intensity and significance of the religious revival in the Army of Tennessee and the fact that Quintard wrote so little about the religious awakening gives at least some credence to the argument that its impact was overblown by the Lost Cause writers. Quintard's omission of evangelical fervor may be due to his aversion to evangelicalism. This is not to say that he did not give witness of Divine power, only that he probably feared or loathed evangelical and revivalist excesses. An example of his feeling is revealed in an entry dated October 23, 1864, which he subtitled "22nd Sunday after Trinity." Quintard lamented, as to the "Methodist and Baptist heresy, they have rioted in false doctrine" (p. 165). The physician-turned-chaplain apparently did not approve of the emotional conversions and professions of faith. Quintard's worship style remained, as Reverend Noll noted in his 1905 introduction, as "High Church" (formal) for "his veneration of the Church's liturgical inheritance was great" (p. 11).
Those not familiar with the rites, rituals, and holy days of the Anglican Communion may be confused as to what it all means. Elliott, as editor, appears to take for granted the knowledge of his readers, though he does explain a few religious terms referred to by Reverend Noll in his 1905 introduction. The failure to define theological terminology is only a minor quibble because most of Elliott's notes and annotations more than make up for the oversight. Including the diary fragment at the end of the edited volume, though often quoted by Quintard in his memoir, may seem redundant to readers; however, as the editor, the fragments Elliott added to the final manuscript lend credibility to Quintard's narrative.
Elliott achieved his stated purpose through updating and annotating Quintard's diary, and in doing so, added to the burgeoning historiography of wartime religion and its impact on the participants. The author's edited work is not solely about religion, but because it focuses on a well-known cleric and military chaplain/missionary, it will stand alongside other recently published works which have enriched our understanding of the conflict's religious aspects.
Elliott's deft editing and footnoting help in understanding the sub-genre of Civil War-era religion and the issues discussed by the diarist. Quintard is unique as a subject because he was born in New England, educated in New York, held credentials in medicine and the Episcopal ministry, and served as a Confederate chaplain--and often as a military physician. Quintard's amazing life is reason enough to read Elliott's annotated work.
. William Bennett, The Great Revival which Prevailed in the Southern Armies during the Late War between the States of the Federal Union (Philadelphia: Claxlon, Remsen, and Wefflinger, 1877); and James William Jones, Christ in the Camp; or Religion in Lee's Army (Richmond: B. E. Johnson and Company, 1888). The testimonies of both chaplains are challenged by Reid Mitchell in "Christian Soldiers? Perfecting the Confederacy," in Religion and the American Civil War, ed. Randall Miller, Harry S. Stout, and Charles Reagan Wilson (New York and London: Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 297-309.
. Since the 1980s, numerous books and articles have appeared on the topic of Civil War religion, but among the better recent works is Eugene D. Genovese, A Consuming Fire: The Fall of the Confederacy in the Mind of the White Christian South (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1998). Much of Quintard's diary fragment is about the period discussed in Genovese's monograph. See also Miller, Stout, and Wilson, eds., Religion and the American Civil War; and Steven E. Woodworth, While God Is Marching On: The Religious World of Civil War Soldiers (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2001).
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James Baugess. Review of Elliott, Sam Davis, ed., Doctor Quintard, Chaplain C.S.A. and Second Bishop of Tennessee: The Memoir and Civil War Diary of Charles Todd Quintard.
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