Preserving Religion's Role in the Conflict; Lynchburg Museum to Show Clergy, Teachings, Artifacts

Article excerpt

Byline: Richard G. Williams Jr., SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A new Civil War Museum in Lynchburg, Va., will offer a very different perspective on America's bloodiest conflict. The National Civil War Chaplains Research Center and Museum will be the only one of its kind in the United States.

The mission of the museum and foundation is to educate the public about the role of chaplains, priests, rabbis and religious organizations during the Civil War. The museum also will promote the continuing study of the various methods of dissemination of religious doctrine and moral teachings during the Civil War and will preserve religious artifacts associated with the conflict. The museum will present interpretive programs that show the influence of religion on the lives of political and military personnel.

The proposed location is 10,000 square feet of space in the Arthur S. DeMoss Learning Center on the campus of Liberty University in Lynchburg. Plans are under way to open the center in the fall.

The Museum plans displays on:

* Camp life, hospitals and the battlefield.

* The U.S. Christian Commission.

* The life of the chaplain, priest and rabbi in the U.S. Army.

* The life of the chaplain, priest and unofficial rabbis in the Confederate army.

* Black chaplains in the U.S. and CSA armies.

* Notable chaplains, priests and rabbis.

* The notable spiritual lives of U.S. and CSA leaders.

* The great revivals.

* Religious music of the era.

A modern, interactive area will portray a camp and battlefield worship service. Here, visitors will be able to stand among holographic images of soldiers and the chaplain, priest or rabbi and participate in the service while hearing what is being thought by the soldiers and the chaplain, priest or rabbi.

A theater is also planned where visitors will be able to view various videos and documentaries. Archives, a bookstore, conference rooms and a research library will be part of the complex, as well.

The museum's foundation boasts an impressive list of scholars, historians, politicians and business leaders as its board of advisers:

* Col. J.W. Brinsfield, Chaplain Corps historian at the Army Chaplain School, Fort Jackson, S.C.

* Kathy Byron, delegate, 22nd District of the Virginia House of Delegates.

* Gary Casteel, Civil War sculptor from Glasgow, Va.

* Virgil Goode, U.S. representative, 5th Virginia District.

* Rod Gragg, Civil War author, Conway, S.C.

* Terry Jamerson, publisher, the Lynchburg News and Advance.

* Irvin Jordan, professor, Special Collections Department, Alderson Library, the University of Virginia. …