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[481]

Before joining the army, we had heard much about the demoralized condition of the men, their profanity, etc., which no doubt prejudiced my mind somewhat, and I was agreeably surprised to find much of the reverse on joining this company. They were falling back from Kernstown when I joined them; the spirits of the men were good, and all seemed cheerful. I was struck with the absence of strict discipline in our army from the very first, and which, no doubt, contributed in some degree to the inefficiency of the men in circumstances when united and prompt action would have availed much. Whether the men would have submitted to strict discipline, owing to early training, etc., etc., is another question, which I will not discuss. The first Sabbath in the army is marked in my journal as having been “horribly spent,” being engaged most of the day in cutting wood, cooking, etc., while the rain was pouring down upon us and making us miserable. No doubt the necessary duties of camp-life on the Sabbath, and the fact that many of Jackson's battles were fought on the Sabbath, owing to unavoidable circumstances, made it extremely difficult for professing Christians to improve the ordinary means of grace which otherwise they might have enjoyed. And that many Christians did grow in grace in spite of these depressing circumstances, and that many were led to seek an interest in Christ, not only in this company, but in the army at large, proves that there was a genuine work of the Spirit, though the estimate oft made as to the numbers who were converted men is usually too large.

Having cleared off in the evening of the Sabbath, enjoyed a prayer-meeting—about thirty present; the singing had a cheering effect. Upon further experience in the company, I found many of the young men to be of high character, good education, and some ten or twelve to be real, active Christians. From the first, great watchfulness and care required lest the reading of the word and use of prayer should be slighted or neglected—which was the experience of many; found need of “watch and pray.”

This week so busily engaged in moving about, had no opportunities for prayermeetings. On the second Sabbath enjoyed two prayer-meetings, and which continued the general rule ever after in the company, when external circumstances would allow of it; and the attendance in our company was always good. And it shall never be forgotten how grandly impressive were those meetings in the open air; a bayonet stuck in the ground for our candlestick, and speakers and hearers seated on the ground or on sticks of wood, while deep attention was generally given to the word of God and the supplications to the throne of grace. We often spent the evenings in singing hymns, until the taps gave notice to be quiet.

About this time (April and May, 1862) we were constantly on the move, so that we had but very few opportunities for holding religious services, even on Sabbath. When possible, General Jackson always insisted on the chaplains taking advantage of the Sabbaths, even when we were near the enemy and were likely to be attackedas on several occasions—so anxious was he for the spiritual condition of his men. I remember several times when our service was disturbed by shells flying over us and breaking up our meeting. In one of our advances upon the enemy, when we had been on the march during the Sabbath, General Jackson sent down order for the chaplains to have divine service on Monday, and to spend the day in rest. Friday, May 16, 1862, appointed by President as a fast-day, when all extra duties were suspended in the company, but the hard rain prevented our holding the prayer-meetings we had appointed; so on the following Sabbath.

It seemed that we were to have no Sabbath-day services, for we were either marching or fighting, or the wet weather prevented us from holding any religious meetings. Then, during the day we were continually on the march from early to late, so that when we got to camp we were tired, hungry, worn-out, besides having our rations to cook. Yet I find, on different days of the week and at irregular hours, notices of preaching and prayer-meetings, which were well and eagerly at


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