I gave notice that on the night preceding the national fast (March 9) I should preach to the brigade on profane swearing, and requested that special efforts should be made to secure the attendance of every swearer in the command. When I came out of the pulpit, a bright-faced youth said to me: “You ought to have pretty near every man in the brigade.” The night appointed arrived, but a hard rain was falling. I got General Gordon to go with me and to make an address at the close of my sermon. A large crowd pressed into the chapel, and many stood under the eaves about the door, while many had to retire on account of the rain. I began to think the young man was nearly right. It was evident that the services had made some impression. In a little while I learned that many men and messes had said they felt ashamed of their evil practice, and many messes covenanted, some under fines, to abstain from so vicious a habit. On the morning of the 26th, after our assault upon the enemy's lines at Fort Steadman, the following gratifying incident occurred: I was passing through one of our Petersburg hospitals, looking up all the wounded of my own division, when I was attracted by a remark which seemed addressed to no one particularly: “ That's my little chaplain.” I looked around; saw a young man wounded; spoke to him, and learned that he belonged to the Louisiana Brigade, and also to that splendid band of soldiers whose conduct on that morning alone deserves celebration in the heart of every Confederate, the Second Corps Sharpshooters; and that he had received his wound just as he was mounting the enemy's entrenchment. I had hardly spoken to him when he asked, smiling, if I remembered the sermon I preached on swearing in their brigade. “Yes,” said I. “Well, sir,” he said, “I made up my mind that night when you and the general got through that I never would swear again; and all our mess said the same thing, and we haven't sworn since.” Certainly, in mingling with that gallant command in the vexatious trenches and on the march, I heard but little profanity among them from that time. This thought suggests a general observation which I had the pleasure of making in the closing trials of our once splendid army. Upon the whole retreat from Petersburg to Appomattox I was passing and meeting our corps time and again every day; in mud, by day, by night, at every hour of both—hungry, exhausted, fighting, retreating; mortified, desperate of success, and harassed as I have never seen them— yet, thank God, I can testify that in all this trial and vicissitude I scarcely heard any oaths! Doubtless many were uttered. I can recall one or two, but their utterances were so seldom as to attract my most grateful remark. The nature of the campaign, its activity and confusion, up to the very day of our leaving Appomattox, rendered it next to impossible for chaplains to do anything of ministerial work; so for that period I have nothing special to report. Finding so little opportunity for ministerial labor, I was used by General Gordon in almost constant military service as an aide-de-camp. At Appomattox two chaplains of the Federal army came into our lines after the capitulation to see some of the chaplains' of our army, and to make inquiry as to the regard shown chaplains in our army by officers. They seemed much surprised at learning my testimony as to the kindly regard in which dutiful ministers were held, and spoke of the great contrast which our relation to the army officers bore to their own. They inquired relative to the great work of grace, and the means by which it was promoted. I told them courteously. They then inquired: “ How much salary do you get?” Upon learning how small it was, they expressed great surprise, and said they could not live on that; they were entitled to, I believe, two horses and $130, and that they seemed to think rendered it a speculation of doubtful profit! At General Gordon's Headquarters we habitually held “family worship” every night, at which all the staff attended. And here shall my egotistical memoir end. In your book you will please not insert the one-hundredth part of these egos. They are written for you alone; and
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Chapter 1 : religious elements in the army.
Chapter 2 : influence of Christian officers.
Chapter 3 : influence of Christian officers—continued.
Chapter 4 : influence of Christian officers—concluded.
Chapter 5 : Bible and colportage work.
Chapter 6 : hospital work.
Chapter 7 : work of the chaplains and missionaries.
Chapter 8 : eagerness of the soldiers to hear the Gospel .
Chapter 9 : State of religion in 1861 - 62 .
Chapter 10 : revivals in the Lower Valley and around Fredericksburg .
Chapter 11 : the great revival along the Rapidan .
Chapter 12 : progress of the work in 1864 - 65 .
Chapter 13 : results of the work and proofs of its genuineness
Appendix: letters from our army workers.
Appendix no. 2 : the work of grace in other armies of the Confederacy .
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.