William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan
Finding aid for
Reuben Smith Goodman Journal, 1864
James S. Schoff Civil War CollectionFinding aid created by
Rob S. Cox November 1997
Reuben Smith Goodman journal
Goodman, Reuben Smith, 1818-1894
Rev. Reuben Smith Goodman's journal traces the six week excursion of a Presbyterian minister in Tennessee, while employed by the U.S. Christian Commission. The brief entries record war-time evangelical activities, including distributing religious literature, consoling, preaching, and ministering to the sick and wounded in hospitals.
The material is in English
William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu
Access and Use
Donated by Dr. William R. Vis, 1944. M-507.
The collection is open for research.
Copyright status is unknown.
Reuben Smith Goodman Journal, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
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.
Collection Scope and Content Note
Rev. Reuben Smith Goodman's journal traces the six week excursion of a Presbyterian minister from La Porte, Indiana, to Nashville and Chattanooga, Tennessee, while employed by the U.S. Christian Commission in 1864. The brief, almost daily entries provide an intimate record of war-time evangelistic activity including distributing religious literature, consoling, preaching, and ministering to the sick and wounded in hospitals. Several soldiers with whom Goodman treated appear to have been quite anxious about their spiritual state, and Goodman appears to have been expert at working to bring them into the "Christian" fold.
Accompanying the journal is a biographical sketch prepared by Goodman's descendants along with his commission and a series of seven passes received while in the field. Pinned on the fly-leaf of the journal is Goodman's silver pin reading, "U.S. Christian Commission, Phil."
- Soldiers--Religious life.
- United States Christian Commission.
- United States. Army--Chaplains.
- United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Hospitals.
- United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--War work.
Additional Descriptive Data
Chattanooga (Tenn.)--Description and travel.Nashville (Tenn.)--Description and travel.Passes, Military.Polk, James K. (James Knox), 1795-1849--Tomb.Soldiers--Confederate States of America.Soldiers--Religious life.United States Christian Commission.United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Hospitals.United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--War work.United States. Army--Chaplains.