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|Format: DRM Protected ePub|
Vendor: The Kent State University Press
Publication Date: 2016
In the summer of 1862, as Union morale ebbed low with home front division over war costs, coming emancipation, and demoralizing battlefield losses, 24-year-old William White Dorr enlisted as a lieu- tenant in the 121st Pennsylvania Volunteers, a new Union regiment organizing in Philadelphia. His father, the Reverend Benjamin Dorr, rector of Christ Church, Philadelphia, strived to prevent divisions in his congregation from sundering that Episcopal church historically tied to the nations founding.
William F. Quigley Jr. presents a narrative that remarkably encapsulates much of the Norths experience of the war. Reverend Benjamin Dorr was one of the most important clergymen of the era, who strived to hold his warring parishioners intact. His efforts paralleled Lincolns far greater but comparable challenge to preserve the Union. The Nations Church was torn apart from within between a faction of Pennsylvanias leading anti-emancipation Democrats and a faction of the citys and states leading Republicans. Like Lincoln, Dorr invoked a temperate faith apart from the civil religion with which most Americans crusaded against each other. Dorr prayed that war might be avoided. But, when war came, he stood faithfully in support of the Union and of the war as Lincoln waged it, emancipation included, even unto the most grievous of losses.
William White Dorr was a young officer in a storied Union infantry regiment whose brave stand at Gettysburg was pivotal in the Unions preservation. Ten months later, wearing the second bar of an army captain, the rectors son would lead his company once more into the Wilderness, one of the most brutal and bloody campaigns of the war.
By wars end, many Philadelphians came to praise the spirit of charity and forgiveness exemplified by Reverend Dorr. He was their shepherd through that political, constitutional, economic, and religious crisis, and to honor his memory they erected stone monuments in The Nations Church to him and to Captain Dorr, A Christian and a Patriot, Faithful unto death.
Clearly and engagingly written, Pure Heart is unique in its narrative synthesis of home front political divisions and frontline infantry experiences. The emotional heart of the story lies in Reverend Dorrs relationship with his soldier son, poignantly revealed in a recently discovered collection of his sons wartime letters.