Monday, November 7, 2016

Booknotes: Pure Heart

New Arrival:
Pure Heart: The Faith of a Father and Son in the War for a More Perfect Union
by William F. Quigley Jr. (Kent St Univ Press, 2016).

Facilitated by the recent discovery of a cache of wartime letters, Pure Heart tells the home front and war front parallel stories of a Pennsylvania father and son. During the Civil War, Reverend Benjamin Dorr, rector of Philadelphia's Christ Church (a place with intimate ties to the founding of both the Episcopal Church in America and the country itself), had to deal with competing Democrat vs. Republican political factions within the congregation. Dorr supported the war and emancipation, and the author likens his efforts in keeping the Episcopal Church from sundering to Lincoln's task of holding together the North. The reverend's son, William White Dorr, joined the army in 1862 as a lieutenant in the 121st Pennsylvania, and the book follows his Civil War career in the eastern theater with that unit from Fredericksburg onward.

From the description: "By war’s end, many Philadelphians came to praise the spirit of charity and forgiveness exemplified by Reverend Dorr. He was their shepherd through that political, constitutional, economic, and religious crisis, and to honor his memory they erected stone monuments in “The Nation’s Church” to him and to Captain Dorr, “A Christian and a Patriot, ‘Faithful unto death.’”"

Another thing that immediately caught my eye while thumbing through the book was the high number and quality of the battle maps, a welcome state of affairs not typically found outside of specialized campaign studies. They are quite impressive.

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