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[353]

Chapter 12: progress of the work in 1864-65.

There were some peculiar difficulties in the way of our work during the period embraced in this chapter. The severe weather of the winter and early spring made outdoor services rarely possible, and the skies had scarcely begun to smile upon us when General Grant crossed the Rapidan. Lee at once advanced and attacked him, and there ensued the death-grapple from ‘the Wilderness’ to Petersburg, when we marched or fought, or were busy entrenching nearly every day. And then followed the siege of Petersburg and defence of Richmond, when our little army (reduced at last to 33,000 men to guard forty miles of entrenchments) was on starvation rations, and was yet forced to do an amount of marching, fighting, digging and watching that would have exhausted much sooner any other troops of which history gives any account, and all of which was very decidedly unfavorable to religious services, or any evangelical work among the soldiers.

And yet the good work went graciously on, there were precious seasons along the line of the Rapidan up to the very opening of the campaign. Many were converted on the march, in the trenches, on the battle-field, in the hospital—and the Richmond and Petersburg lines, despite their scenes of carnage and blood, were made glorious by the presence of Christ in the trenches.

I remember that the very day on which our line was broken below Petersburg, necessitating the evacuation of Richmond and Petersburg, and that sad march which terminated at Appomattox Court House, I had an appointment to preach and to baptize at the very point at which the lines were broken, and had been laboring there for some days in one of the most interesting revivals which I witnessed.

Indeed, the revivals along the forty miles of Confederate entrenchments, where there were about sixty chapels, during the winter of 1864—65 were as general and as powerful as any we

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