South, in all of the denominations, are filled by Confederate soldiers, but that this is true of quite a number of prominent pulpits at the North
In 1867 I addressed letters to all of the college presidents, and many of the leading pastors at the South
, in order to ascertain how far our returned soldiers were maintaining their Christian profession, and what proportion of them were preparing for the Gospel ministry.
The replies were in the highest degree satisfactory and gratifying, showing that about four-fifths of the Christian
students of our colleges had been in the army, and that a large proportion of them had found Christ
in the camp—that nine-tenths of the candidates for the ministry had determined to preach while in the army—and nearly all of the army converts were maintaining their profession, many of them pillars in the Churches
If the personal allusion may be pardoned, I will say that I have taken especial pains—by correspondence, by inquiries of pastors, and by personal interviews with many of them, as I have travelled in every State from Maryland
—to ascertain the after-lives of the four hundred and ten soldiers whom I baptized in the army, and I have heard of only three
(there were doubtless others) who have gone back to the world.
One pastor of a leading Church in the south-west said to me: ‘I am indebted to you for baptizing in the army the best and most efficient men in my Church.’
I had a tender meeting several years ago with a delegate from Texas
to the Southern Baptist Convention at Baltimore
, whom I had baptized on the Rapidan
in August, 1863, and I might give a number of touching incidents concerning these men whom I meet all over the South
In the summer of 1865 I was travelling one day along a country road in Virginia
, when I saw a young man plowing in the field, guiding the plow with one hand, while an empty sleeve hung at his side.
I know not how others may feel about it, but for myself I never see the empty sleeve or halting gait of the true Confederate soldier that I do not instinctively take off my hat in profound respect for the man—I never pass his ‘vocal grave’ without desiring to pause and cast at least one little violet upon it—and I hope never to see the day when I shall not count it a privilege to share with him, or with his widow or orphan, the last crust of bread that a good Providence