Chapter 1: religious elements in the army.
On the memorable 17th day of April, 1861—the day on which the Virginia Convention, in response to Mr. Lincoln
's call for seventy-five thousand men to coerce the seceded States, passed its ordinance of secession—there occurred at the little village of Louisa Court House a scene similar to those enacted all over Virginia
and the South
, which none who witnessed it can ever forget.
The ‘Louisa Blues,’ a volunteer company composed of the best young men of the county, were drilling at noon on the court green, when a telegram from the governor of the State
ordered them to be ready to take a train of cars at sundown that evening.
Immediately all was bustle and activity—couriers were sent in every direction to notify absentees—and in every household there were busy fingers and anxious hearts preparing those brave men to meet promptly the call of the sovereign power of their native State.
I remember one doting mother who wept in secret the tears she restrained in the presence of her loved boy of just sixteen summers, who had but recently risen from severe illness, but whose frame grew strong with eagerness to march with his comrades to the post of duty.
When asked if she was not willing for her boy to respond to his country's call, she replied in that spirit of patriotism which characterized the women of the South
throughout the war: ‘Certainly I am!
I wish him to go, and should be ashamed of him if he were unwilling to go. But there is one thought of which I cannot rid myself, and which causes me the bitterest anguish.
I have always looked upon an army as a complete “school of vice,” and I fear that, amid the demoralizing influences of the camp, my boy (carefully nurtured though he has been) will wander far from the paths of virtue and religion, and will come back, if spared to return, not the innocent boy send forth to my country's service but a reckless, vicious man.’