Combat Chaplain

The Life and Civil War Experiences of Rev. James H. McNeilly

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M. Todd Cathey
  • Macon, GA: 
    Mercer University Press
    , February
     277 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


Born 9 June 1838, James H. McNeilly grew up near Charlotte in Dickson County, Tennessee. At age thirteen, McNeilly was sworn in as deputy circuit court clerk of Dickson County. Raised in a devout Presbyterian home, he received his undergraduate degree from Jackson College in Columbia, Tennessee. Just as the Civil War broke out, he had earned his Doctor of Divinity from Danville Theological Seminary at Danville, Kentucky. As McNeilly returned home to Dickson County, in the summer of 1861, he preached on Sunday and recruited troops for the Confederacy during the week. In October 1861, McNeilly traveled to nearby Fort Donelson, where he offered his services to the South. In September 1862, he was detailed as chaplain for the 49th Tennessee Infantry and went into battle with “the boys.” From Port Hudson to the campaign for Vicksburg, to Jackson, to the slopes of Kennesaw Mountain, to Ezra Church, to Franklin where the regiment lost more than 73% casualties including his brother Thomas, to Nashville and beyond McNeilly was with the men every step of the way, enduring what they endured. This book shows the connections between personal faith, the everyday life of the chaplain, and his deep relationship with the men to whom he ministered on a daily basis as he shared privation, hardship, humor, and combat as one of them.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

M. Todd Cathey has been a student of the American Civil War for over thirty years. His primary area of interest is the common soldier in the Western Theater. Cathey holds several advanced degrees including two earned doctorates. Cathey is executive pastor of Arrow Heights Baptist Church in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.


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