In The Press
Local author pens tale of churches in Civil War
By Amy Flowers Umble. Photo by
Date published: 9/27/2008 (FLS Town &
Fredericksburg is sometimes called
"the city of churches" because of the steeples
dotting its skyline. But during the Civil War,
those steeples provided targets instead of symbols
Bullets riddled the tall towers,
and inside the chapels below, soldiers on both
sides stripped churches of their pews and stained
their floors with blood.
"The congregations today are really
a testament to the strength and tenacity of the
congregations then," said author Michael Aubrecht,
who has just released a book, "Historic Churches of
Fredericksburg: Houses of the Holy."
128-page volume was released this month by The
History Press, and Aubrecht will host a
book-signing party at the National Civil War Life
Museum in early October.
book tells the history of five downtown churches,
all of which survived the Battle of Fredericksburg.
The book took a little more than 10 months for the
Spotsylvania County resident to write.
said the churches' perseverance really made the
book. "I was impressed with the way these churches
were able to handle themselves amid one of the
darkest periods in American history," Aubrecht
history of the black congregations also interested
the author. "The African-American perspective was
crucial to the book," he said. "It's a
far-too-neglected part of Civil War
Including that history complicated
things somewhat. For example, when Fredericksburg
Baptist Church split into black and white
congregations, forming what's now called Shiloh
Baptist Church (Old Site), each congregation
recorded different facts in its history.
presented each version and allowed them to stand on
their merits," Aubrecht said.
also included information on how the churches
impacted society both before and after the war.
Before the battles reached Fredericksburg, the
congregations hosted many discussions.
"And faith was a major component of
the healing that was required to take place after
the war," Aubrecht said.
author focused a lot on the Civil War, which is not
surprising. The conflict played a strong role not
only in the churches' history, but also in
became a Civil War buff at age 7, after a trip to
Gettysburg. He was so taken with the history that
for Halloweens he dressed up as Civil War soldiers,
in costumes his mother made for him.
When he started writing, however,
Aubrecht didn't first turn to his historic passion
but focused on another love: baseball.
wrote for Baseball Almanac, and one day, out of
material, he penned a piece on baseball during the
Civil War. People were so receptive to the work
that he began periodically writing Civil War pieces
for The Free Lance-Star and for magazines.
years ago, Aubrecht's writing took another turn
when he and his wife returned to church, attending
Spotsylvania Presbyterian with their four
Aubrecht began including faith in
his work, and now writes predominantly about
Christianity during the Civil War, filling a niche
he said had been ignored.
provides him with a new audience, and Aubrecht gets
letters and e-mail from people who picked up his
book on Stonewall Jackson's faith without any
interest in the famed Southern general.
Many tell him his books inspire
them to do more research on the war. "But I'm most
pleased that a lot of people pick up the Bible
after reading one of my books," Aubrecht
one Christian group developed his book about
Jackson, "Onward Christian Soldier," into a
Aubrecht liked the course so much
that he teaches it himself. He added some material
and plans to take the class on a special tour to
the Stonewall Jackson Shrine in Caroline
"It's not a course on hero worship,
it's a course on worshipping, looking at the
example of a hero," Aubrecht said.
WHAT: Book-release party and
signing for "Historic Churches of Fredericksburg:
Houses of the Holy" by Michael Aubrecht. Author's
talk, tours of the museum, hors d'oeuvres, dessert
and live music by Burke Classic Rock
WHEN: Friday, Oct. 3, 6-9 p.m.
WHERE: National Civil War Life Museum at
COST: The book costs $20, but all other aspects of
the party are free.
DETAILS: pinstripepress.net or 540/834-1859