Throughout the Civil War, servicemen on both sides were the focus of active proselytizing by Protestant evangelicals. Service organization such as the United States Christian Commission worked assiduously to make Bibles, hymnals and other approved reading material available to soldiers, and Christian Commission agents took part in a variety of formal and informal relief efforts, from tending to the sick and wounded to writing letters home for soldiers, to contacting the relatives of the deceased.
A graduate of New York University (1842, MA 1845) and Princeton Theological Seminary (1846) Reuben Smith Goodman was pastor of the Presbyterian Church in La Porte, Indiana, during the time of the Civil War. Having been frustrated in his attempts to secure a position overseas, Goodman was able to fulfill his taste for missionary activity as a delegate of the U.S. Christian Commission in 1864. Traversing the field from Louisville, Kentucky., to Nashville and Chattanooga, Tennessee, Goodman labored long hours in hospitals and camps, evangelizing among the soldiers, providing assistance to the sick and wounded, and distributing Bibles and hymnals, writing paper, newspapers and other publications.
After the war, Goodman returned to the pulpit at Kendallville, Indiana, before retiring to Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1872. His last post was as chaplain of the Michigan Soldiers' Home.