One of the least told stories of the Civil War surrounds the work of Catholic chaplains who served on both sides of the battle.  The heroic Catholic chaplains who served in the Civil War encouraged their soldiers to fight with honor and valor, celebrated Mass, listened to confessions and offered the sacraments to their soldiers.

The Civil War Museum of Kenosha is hosting a free lecture program at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 6, entitled, “Escaping to the War: The Path of Redemption for Chaplain William O’Higgins of the 10th Ohio,” by Fr. David Endres. Fr. Endres is a professor of Church history and historical theology at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Cincinnati. He is editor of the scholarly quarterly U.S. Catholic Historian, and has published numerous book and articles, including an edited work, “Soldiers of the Cross: The Heroism of Catholic Chaplains and Sisters in the American Civil War (2019).”

According to Doug Dammann, educational coordinator of the Civil War Museum, the upcoming lecture is part of their Midwest State Civil War series.

“We currently have a temporary exhibit highlighting the role of Ohio in the Civil War on our second floor,” said Dammann. “We also plan to have a sister come from Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati who has done a lot of research on nurse nuns in the Civil War.”

Born in Ireland in 1829, Fr. O’Higgins immigrated to America in 1857 and joined the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. He was commissioned as chaplain of the 10th Ohio Infantry on June 3, 1861, in which he served until June 17, 1864.

Dammann got the idea to host Fr. Endres from Fr. Robert Miller, a former Redemptorist from Wisconsin and currently a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Fr. Miller has published six books, including “Religion and Faith in the American Civil War.” From 2003-06, he held official positions in the Civil War Round Table of Chicago, including the role as president of the organization.

“I know Fr. Endres and his extensive research on the Civil War. He has written a lot of history on Fr. O’Higgins. The Catholic chaplains, like Fr. O’Higgins, are responsible for a tremendous number of conversions among the soldiers,” said Fr. Miller.  “Doug Dammann and I were doing some research for the museum, and I thought Fr. Endres would be perfect for the speaker series.”

If you want to go

Escaping to the War: The Path of Redemption for Chaplain William O’Higgins, talk by Fr. David Endres

Saturday, Aug. 6, at 1 p.m.

Civil War Museum, 5400 First Ave., Kenosha

Free and open to the public

Fr. David Endres