It used to seem to me that never, since Cromwell
's time, had there been soldiers in whom the religious element held such a place.
“A religious army,” “a gospel army,” were their frequent phrases.
In their prayer-meetings there was always a mingling, often quaint enough, of the warlike and the pious.
“If each one of us was a praying man,” said Corporal Thomas Long
in a sermon, “it appears to me that we could fight as well with prayers as with bullets,--for the Lord
has said that if you have faith even as a grain of mustard-seed cut into four parts, you can say to the sycamore-tree, Arise, and it will come up.”
And though Corporal Long
may have got a little perplexed in his botany, his faith proved itself by works, for he volunteered and went many miles on a solitary scouting expedition into the enemy's country in Florida
, and got back safe, after I had given him up for lost.
The extremes of religious enthusiasm I did not venture to encourage, for I could not do it honestly; neither did I discourage them, but simply treated them with respect, and let them have their way, so long as they did not interfere with discipline.
In general they promoted it. The mischievous little drummer-boys, whose scrapes and quarrels were the torment of my existence, might be seen kneeling together in their tents to say their prayers at night, and I could hope that their slumbers were blessed by some spirit of peace, such as certainly did not rule over their waking.
The most reckless and daring fellows in the regiment were perfect fatalists in their confidence that God would watch over them, and that if they died, it would be because their time had come.
This almost excessive faith, and the love of freedom and of their families, all co-operated with their pride as soldiers to