During the Civil War Father James Sheeran served as a Catholic chaplain for the 14th Louisiana Infantry. Between his various responsibilities Sheeran kept a journal in which he recounted his experiences with, and observations of, life in the Army of Northern Virginia. As editor of The Civil War Diary of Rev. James Sheeran, Chaplain, Confederate, Redemptorist (Catholic University of America Press, 2016), Patrick J. Hayes has provided readers with the most complete edition yet of Sheeran’s manuscript, one that details the activities of a man of faith in a time of war. An immigrant from Ireland, Sheeran joined the Redemptorist congregation in the 1850s and was serving as a parish priest in New Orleans when the war began in 1861. As a military chaplain, Sheeran witnessed firsthand many of the key battles of the Civil War, from Second Manassas in 1862 to Cedar Creek in 1864, and his recorded observations provide a valuable record of those clashes. Yet Sheeran’s diaries also serve as a window into what life was like for soldiers and civilians during the conflict, as observed by a man whose commitment to the Confederate cause was matched only by his piety.
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