Category: Research

A Holy Grail: The Story of Father Cooney and his Civil War Chalice

Descendants of the sister of Robert Gould Shaw, colonel of the famous 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry Regiment, recently rediscovered his long lost sword. The family then donated the weapon to the Massachusetts Historical Society, whose president dubbed it “the holy grail of Civil War swords.”[1] When it comes to important Civil War artifacts, however, some “holy grails” are more literal… Read more →

Soldiers of the Cross: David Conyngham’s Unpublished Tribute to Catholic Priests and Nuns in the Civil War

David Powers Conyngham (1825-1883) was an Irish Catholic immigrant, journalist, writer, and Civil War soldier who served in both the Irish Brigade and in Sherman’s army during the Atlanta Campaign and March to the Sea. Shortly after the war ended, he wrote important works about the brigade and Sherman’s campaigns before turning his attention to religious and Irish history. He… Read more →

Between Two Extremes: The Boston Pilot on Slavery and the Civil War

Informally known as “the Irishman’s Bible,” The Boston Pilot was the leading Catholic journal in the United States during the 19th century. Although not the official organ of the Diocese of Boston during much of this period, the paper was read widely across Catholic and Irish communities throughout the U.S. Eventually it reached a circulation of over 100,000 in the… Read more →

Concept Cover Art for Excommunicated from the Union (2015), by William Kurtz.

Excommunicated from the Union Now Available

My first book, Excommunicated from the Union: How the Civil War Created a Separate Catholic America, is now available from Fordham University Press. The journey of completing this work has been a long one. It first started in 2005, when as an undergraduate student on the advice of Dr. Dottie Pratt (then at the University of Notre Dame), I decided… Read more →

Concept Cover Art for Excommunicated from the Union (2015), by William Kurtz.

Advance Praise and Author Appearances

Having just learned from Fordham that my book is now at the printers, I wanted to take a moment to share some advance praise that Excommunicated from the Union has received from two leading historians of religion during the American Civil War. “A significant contribution to scholarship on both American Catholicism and the American Civil War. Excommunicated from the Union fills… Read more →

The Battle of Stones River

“The Battle of Stones River.” Essential Civil War Curriculum (September 2015). www.essentialcivilwarcurriculum.com. My latest piece¹ for the Essential Civil War Curriculum, hosted by Virginia Center for Civil War Studies at Virginia Tech, is about the Battle of Stones River. Fought on December 31, 1862 and January 2, 1862 between General William S. Rosecrans’s Union army and General Braxton Bragg’s Confederate… Read more →

Concept Cover Art for Excommunicated from the Union (2015), by William Kurtz.

Excommunicated from the Union: By the Numbers

Big data is one of those buzz words particularly popular with digital humanists these days. It also defines an approach that is not necessarily relevant for all historical research projects. For example, my forthcoming book’s argument that the American Civil War alienated most Catholics relies much more on first-hand accounts and newspaper editors’ opinions than on tables or charts. Still,… Read more →