How important was Rosecrans’ Catholicism?
The Fight For Tennessee: July 1863 to January 1864
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Rosecrans was the most visible Roman Catholic to be found in the high command of the Union forces. Not only did he practice a faith that many of his soldiers found questionable, but he did so with an unabashed fervor.
Rosecrans always had a crucifix on his person, and he had a priest, Father Daley, constantly at his side. Rosecrans, who loved to talk, often sat up late into the evening, discussing theology either with Daley or members of his staff. None of this bothered the rank-and-file; they may have found Rosecrans’ faith odd, but they liked, and sometimes adored, “Old Rosy,” as they called him. The “trouble” surrounding Rosecrans’ faith came at higher levels, in Washington, D.C., where some people questioned whether such an ardent “Papist,” as Catholics were often called, should be a major-general of volunteers. After the Battle of Chickamauga, Rosecrans seemed to fall apart, and once again, both the man and his religion came in for scrutiny.