Robert Curran

For Church and Confederacy

Through letters and other writings, this historical study chronicles an Irish Catholic family’s influence on mid-nineteenth–century South Carolina.
For Church and Confederacy unveils the lives of the Lynch family during the late antebellum and Civil War years. Settling in the South Carolina upcountry, Irish immigrants Conlaw and Eleanor Lynch imparted their ambitions to their children, several of whom would make exceptional marks in such areas as education, manufacturing, and religious life.
Patrick Lynch, the third Roman Catholic bishop of Charleston, developed a national reputation as a polemicist, and during the Civil War he was appointed as a Confederate special commissioner to the Papal States. Other family members, particularly Francis, whose tanneries supplied shoes to thousands of soldiers, and Ellen, whose Catholic academy became a refuge for the children of prominent Southern families, also made valuable contributions to the Confederacy. All of them considered slaveholding indispensable to achieving their position in Southern society.
Though the Lynches were on the periphery of the political turmoil that led to disunion, they became strong secessionists once the war began. By the war’s end most found themselves in the path of William T. Sherman’s avenging army and suffered great losses.
Featuring meticulous notes and commentary placing the Lynch siblings’ writings in historical context, this compelling portrait of the complex relationship among religion, slavery, and war has a sweep that carries the reader along as the war gradually overtakes the family’s privileged world and eventually brings it down.
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