[From Rev. George F. Bagby, Baptist, Chaplain Fortieth Virginia, and Army Evangelist.]
Elizaville, Kentucky, March 13, 1867.My Dear Brother: I enlisted as a private soldier in Company A, Fortieth Virginia, May, 1861. Labored thus, preaching every Sunday, holding prayermeet-ings every evening in different commands, and distributing tracts. Soon began to see fruits; several professed conversion, without any extra efforts in way of protracted meetings. Was commissioned chaplain Fortieth Virginia, July 19, and continued to labor as above until March, 1862. Resigned chaplaincy, and soon accepted an appointment as colporter in Wise's Brigade. Held a protracted meeting with one of the commands, afterward of Fourth Virginia, Colonel Goode. Several, say four or five, professed conversion, and several others were revived and reclaimed to the cause. In 1863, I forget what month, together with Brother A. Broaddus and Brother W. E. Wiatt, one of the most faithful men I ever knew, chaplain of the regiment, commenced meeting in Twenty-sixth Virginia. This meeting was exceedingly interesting from first. The work of grace commenced and continued more than a month without abatement. No undue excitement, and nothing extraordinary connected with meeting except that the hardest cases seemed to be reached, and one professed infidel, a sprightly young man, professed conversion. The number who professed conversion at this meeting, including the number who professed subsequently—the revival influence continued several months—probably reached 200. Every company of this regiment was in the habit of holding a prayer-meeting every night after the meeting. I never knew one of these young converts to refuse to pray when called on publicly. After this meeting, held another with a battalion at Chaffin's Bluff; as result of this meeting from twenty to thirty professed conversion. When this brigade was sent to South Carolina I went to Army of Northern Virginia. The results, etc., of my labors there you know something of. In December, 1863, I followed the brigade (Wise's) to South Carolina; labored much among the troops there, scattered as they were in isolated camps from Charleston to Pocataligo and beyond, a distance of twenty-five or thirty miles. About this time scarcely ever preached a sermon without immediate fruit. Preached to a detached company, said to be very wicked, about eighty in number, about seventy-five present at service. Directly after sermon one of the officers came forward and made an open profession of conversion. About this time visited James Island; commenced a meeting in a deserted Presbyterian meeting-house. Congregation, at first small, gradually grew, and before meeting closed, which lasted one month, soldiers might be seen running an hour before time for service from regiments a mile off in order to obtain seats in the house. About one hundred professed conversion here. The converts belonged mostly to Colquitt's Brigade, which afterward did such good service at Olustee, Florida, and subsequently around Petersburg with Army of Northern Virginia. I was then called from my army labors to raise money for Colportage Board. During my labors as agent met with an incident which may prove interesting. While laboring among soldiers about Matthias's Point, in beginning of struggle, was much discouraged by impression which was very prevalent— “chaplains were, if not nuisances, at least, supernumeraries.” But preached on. Upon visiting a certain village in South Carolina, 1863, received a letter from an unknown lady asking that I would call on her, alleging a special reason. I was sick, so my lady friend called on me and said: “A devoted friend of mine left home for the army, very wicked; accidentally heard a Mr. Bagby preach near Matthias's Point, in Virginia. This sermon led him to consider his eternal interests, which resulted in his conversion, and he fell a few days after in the first battle of Manassas.” She wept profusely, while I united my tears of gratitude with hers.