employed. And it seemed to me that there were generally, if not always, some careless ones who could not be drawn from their tents to the chapel or place of concourse. But, instituting the comparison, I would think, from my observation, that the attendance in camp, on religious services, was proportionally much larger than in our communities at home, taking our population of all classes who are of sufficient age and have somewhat of ability to attend church. Perhaps, however, the greater convenience of attendance, with the want of employment when “off duty,” had something to do with this state of facts. Nevertheless it afforded the greater opportunity, to chaplains and ministers, for reaching the masses of the soldiery by the preached word. Some of the largest congregations I ever saw in attendance on religious services were in our camps during the war.--I shall never forget a Sabbath night that I spent in the spring of 1863, in the then war-battered town of Fredericksburg. The feeling of the great revival there was still up, and the soldiers, beginning at an early hour to crowd in, by nightfall filled the spacious Episcopal church edifice, then used for these convocations, lower floor, galleries, presenting, on a grand scale, the unique spectacle, seen only in camp, of a great religious assembly composed only of males. And when the singing began, what a volume of solemn sound swelled up from the voices of that mighty throng! And when the call was made to prayer, how devoutly did the bodies of those men of war and battle bow before Jehovah, a whole congregation literally “ kneeling before the Lord,” and setting an example well worthy of imitation among us, here at home! After the sermon, a number came forward, some desiring prayer, as awakened persons, others to be admitted to church-fellowship. Brother Owen, whom I learned to admire and love almost as soon as I saw him, and his fellow-laborers there, must have reaped, in those early months of 1863, a glorious harvest indeed! But I remember now, with even more interest, so strongly has it been photographed in my memory by events and scenes soon following, the congregation and service, on the morning of that same Sabbath, at General Jackson's Headquarters. You probably have visited and remember that last camping-place of his, near Hamilton's Crossing, where the tents of the general and his staff were pitched in a little valley, between a small stream which ran through it and a wooded ridge which girt the vale on the west. On the slope of this ridge, behind the tents, an area had been formed, in the woods, for a place of religious assemblage, by felling the trees and arranging them for seats. Even an hour before the time for service those seats began to be occupied, and before the service commenced many were standing around in addition to those who could find a place to sit. It was a grand opportunity for tract distribution; and Brother Lacy and myself carried forth a large basketful, which were soon disposed of, as well as some Testaments, in the most rapid manner, and almost without our going into the congregation; you know how; for I have no doubt you have sometimes seen how they would rise and come and help themselves and their comrades, on such occasions. Yes! I shall never forget that Sabbath assemblage, at those Headquarters. Mr. Lacy supposed a thousand to be present, and I should have judged the number to be not less. It was one of the most brilliant and noble assemblies of military men ever brought together. Beside Generals Lee and Jackson, I remember that Early and Kershaw were there, and a host of officers of various rank. And then, those masses of men that filled the rude seats and formed the dark margin of those who stood around; they were some of the very elite of Jackson's Corps and of the very flower of our Confederate armies. All over the area, till the services opened, the men were seen intently reading the books and tracts. Jackson took his seat between two of the tents, in a position where few could see him. Mr. Lacy preached a solemn and powerful sermon, from the case of the rich man and Lazarus, making it suggestive of the reversed contrasts of this world and the next.
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 .
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