New Museum Will Honor Civil War Chaplains
By Kathryn Jorgensen
LYNCHBURG, Va. — “There are many museums all over the country, but not a single one to pay tribute to the sacrifices of the Civil War Chaplain, and it is far overdue,” says Chaplain Alan Farley.
He is co-founder of The National Civil War Chaplain’s Research Center and Museum, which will be located at Liberty University in Lynchburg. A public announcement about the new facility will be made at an Oct. 5 press conference where some of the collectibles that the museum will house will be shown to the media.
The idea of honoring chaplains began with Farley, who is from Concord, Va., and the late Scott Hartzell, a longtime reenactor with the 3rd Arkansas and antique dealer from Downingtown, Pa.
Farley says, “For several years we had talked about starting a museum to honor the memory of these men, the chaplains and United States Christian Commission delegates.”
Hartzell collected Christian and religious items, such as hymnals and tracts. “He loved anything to do with his faith,” says Farley. “He had a fantastic collection. He said it was a shame to collect and not have a way to show them and let people know about them.”
After Hartzell’s death last October another longtime reenactor (105th Pennsylvania Volunteers), Liberty University professor and director of the annual Central Virginia Civil War Seminars, Kenny Rowlette, joined the effort.
He and Farley say they share the same vision for the museum: “To be non-partisan, to honor the chaplains of both armies no matter Protestant, Catholic or Jewish.” Roughly 1,200-1,400 Confederate chaplains, 3,000 Union chaplains and about 5,000 Christian Commission volunteers served during the war.
In honor of their friend, the research library will be named the Scott Hartzell Memorial Library. Hartzell’s collection, as well as Farley’s collection of religious materials, will be housed there.
Farley says he and Hartzell were unaware of each other for a while during their collecting years. Farley collected period Gospel tracts that were given to soldiers in order to reprint them and give them out through his Re-enactor’s Mission for Jesus Christ. He and Hartzell shared their materials as researchers learned of them from Web sites and sought help.
“This helped add fuel to the fire to try to put this museum together so people would have access to this original material from the war and have it in a venue so they could see the original behind a display case and go to a computer screen and bring up the text,” he says.
The museum will be operated by the non-profit 501 (c)(3) The National Civil War Chaplain’s Research Center and Museum Foundation.
It will be located in a 10,000-square-foot area being granted and rented from Liberty University’s DeMoss Center. The facility will include a reception area, 50-seat video theater, archive displays, a research library and collection, digital resources, book store, offices, conference room and ministry display for The Re-enactor’s Mission for Jesus Christ.
Farley says there is a lot of work to be done to finish the space, including dividing it, making display cases and installing climate control. They will seek grants and donations to help pay for the work.
The goal is to open by fall 2007 and Farley says, “We are praying it will be before that.”
The center and museum will focus on Confederate and Union Protestant, Catholic and Jewish chaplains, African-American chaplains and religious organizations and publications. Other areas of focus will include the relationship of religion to political and military leaders, common soldiers and the public in the North and South.
Farley says the aim of the research center is “to honor these very brave and often neglected individuals.” The center will study the impact chaplains had on soldiers’ lives, how members of the faiths worked or did not work together, and the chaplains’ methods and tools of reaching soldiers.
Another area of study will be the reasons for and the longterm effects of the Great Revival in the Confederate Army and why there was no corresponding revival in the Union Army.
Farley is ordained and is a missionary evangelist supported by 20 different churches across the country serving fulltime as a missionary to the reenactment field. In his 15 years of collecting he has acquired religious newspapers, Gospel tracts from the North and South and U.S. Christian Commission materials.
He recently purchased an original lap organ that belonged to Chaplain William Joyce of the 2nd Texas Cavalry. He has Joyce’s Bible and the Bible a Catholic priest with the 1st Louisiana carried.
Crucifixes and communion sets are among available religious collectibles. “That would be wonderful to get something like that,” Farley says. Christian Commission materials are still available as are cartes de visite and daguerreotypes of chaplains. Farley notes that he has never seen a Confederate chaplain’s image.
“We’re really praying there will be some folks who will say here’s a way that I can show this stuff and allow it to be seen and used by the general public” and put it on loan, he says.
The National Civil War Chaplain’s Research Center and Museum will participate with the annual Central Virginia Civil War Seminars and hold its own programs and publish a newsletter.
Farley is curator and consultant to the project and Rowlette is director. Donald Leslie is secretary/treasurer. Board of trustees members are Jerry Falwell Jr., Dr. Cline E. Hall, William McRorie and Dr. Harold Willmington.
Members of the board of advisors include Congressman Virgil Goode, state Delegate Kathy Byron, Dr. James I. Robertson Jr., Marc Schewel, Rod Gragg, Dr. David Valuska, Dr. Steven E. Woodworth, Al Stone, the Rev. Lloyd Sprinkle and Don Troiani.
As well as borrowing exhibit items from individual collectors and institutions the new museum welcomes donations of artifacts and funds. Donations may be sent to National Civil War Chaplain’s Museum, P.O. Box 970, Concord, VA 24538.
Progress reports will be posted at www.rmjc.org under the museum link. Farley may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (434) 993-0550; Rowlette is at (434) 582-2087.