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American Civil War and Fordham: Fr. Tissot. President of Fordham, Chaplain, Confederate POW

A record of the year (1861-1862) Fr Peter Tissot SJ spent with the 37th Regiment as military chaplain

The diary appeared as a continuing series in the college publication, The Fordham Monthly and was pubished in 6 issues during 1900-1901.

October 1900, Vol XIX No. 1 pgs 12-17

November 1900, Vol XIX, No. 2 pgs 55-62

April 1901, Vol XIX, No 7 pgs.393-398

May 1901, Vol XIX, No. 8 pgs. 465-472

June 1901, Vol XIX, No 9 pgs. 529-537

July 1901, Vol XIX, No 10  pgs. 644-651


Archival holdings

Manuscript diary, 62 pages “Two Years in the Army of the Potomac.” Diary also appeared in print in Fordham Monthly.

Handwritten manuscript, 108 pages. “Before the Blessed Sacraments.” 1874.

Autograph letter, signed. Camp near Rappahanock. November 8, 1862. To Capt. James O’Beirne.

Autograph letter, signed. St. John’s College, Fordham, NY Feb. 26, 1866. To Col. James O’Beirne.

Autograph letter, signed. St. John’s College, Fordham, NY March 20, 1866. To Col. James O’Beirne.

Autograph letter, signed. St. John’s College, Fordham, NY April 20, 1866. To Col. James O’Beirne.

Father Peter Tissot SJ.

Father Peter Tissot, S.J.

Born: October 15, 1823, Mégêve, Savoy, France

Died: July 19th, 1875, College of St. Francis Xavier

Father Peter Tissot's experience serving as a chaplain with the 37th New York Volunteers not only benefited the men with whom he served but has also given generations to come an intimate view of life as a chaplain during the Civil War; during his two-year tenure with northern forces from 1861 to 1863, Tissot kept a diary of his life. While the diary is one of Tissot's greatest contributions, his work as chaplain provided inspiration, comfort and spiritual support to all of his men. After joining the Jesuit Order, Tissot started his studies in Europe, before coming to the United States, and Fordham where he completed his studies. After completion, he took up a job at the University as procurator and occasionally taught. While working at Fordham he was admired and well-liked by the students, with whom he was perfectly comfortable playing a game of football or hand-ball. During his service in the Army he became especially admired by his men for his dedication to them. One account has him giving last rites to those lying dead on the battle field as the bullets were still flying. His regiment was known as the "Irish Rifles" due to their ethnic makeup. And, indeed, a few of the men in the regiment were Fordham boys, including the future-general, James O'Beirne. He was always available for confessions and encouraged the soldiers in his regiment to attend. Tissot urged one soldier who had not been to confession to go before he returned to the battle field, even though this soldier was a pious one; the soldier did not abide by Tissot's request and died in the next battle. Following the war, Tissot returned to Fordham where he worked until in his last few years when he went on missionary work until his death in 1875.

Subject Guide

Vivian Shen's picture
Vivian Shen
Walsh Library, Rose Hill Campus
Special Collections, 4th floor