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[501]

With many wishes for your success in your undertaking, I am, in Christ, yours,



From Rev. James McDowell, Presbyterian, chaplain Palmetto Sharpshooters.

Dear Brother: I was chaplain of the “Palmetto Sharpshooters,” Jenkins's Brigade; and after he was killed in the battle of the Wilderness, Bratton's Brigade, Longstreet's Corps. I became chaplain in July, 1862, and continued so until the surrender of the army at Appomattox Court House.

I usually had the following services in my regiment: On Sabbath a prayermeeting about sunrise, preaching about 11 o'clock, and preaching or prayer-meeting in the afternoon or night. In the week we generally had prayer-meeting about sundown or at night. During the last winter we were in camp the church-members had an interesting prayer-meeting, which some twenty of them conducted in turn. These were held every night. I had a Bible-class for awhile, but it was not very large nor very flourishing.

I distributed a great many religious papers, tracts, Bibles and Testaments. Number not known.

We had quite a revival of religion in our brigade at one time while stationed near Petersburg. More of our men joined the Baptist Church than any other denomination. I suppose I received fifteen or twenty into the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches. Means used were preaching, religious conversation and prayer.

From the after-lives of those professing conversion I have reason to think that that a number of cases were genuine conversion, but some others did not give good evidence afterwards of having been really changed in heart.

The majority of the officers of my regiment were ungodly men, and their influence was against religion. Those of them highest in rank seldom attended any religious service. Some of our captains and lower officers were pious, and exerted a good influence, but none of higher rank than captain in my regiment. Some of the other regiments were much more blessed in this respect, having pious colonels, who exerted a good influence. General Jenkins (our brigadier) was a professor of religion; General Bratton, who succeeded him, was not.

I think upon the whole, though there were a great many very wicked men, that still religion exerted a considerable power on the general morals and efficiency of the army.

I think there were several men in the brigade, who were killed, who thought of devoting themselves to the ministry; but none that I know of who survived the war, and none at any time in my regiment.

Perhaps some of the following incidents may be of some service to you:

I asked a young man of my regiment, wounded near Lookout Mountain, who afterwards died: “What would you take for your hope that you are a Christian?” He answered: “Not ten thousand worlds.”

A lieutenant in the same hospital, wounded same time, who died after the amputation of a leg, said, in answer to my inquiry as to the cause of his not being a Christian: “I have often wanted to be a Christian, but I put it off from day to day.”

Another lieutenant of my regiment, wounded at Spottsylvania, who also died, said: “I had fixed as a time to attend to my salvation when the war was over and I returned home;” but, poor fellow, death came long before that period. Both cases show the evil of procrastinating.

A very wicked man in my regiment was shot in battle and died in a few minutes. He used the following, or very similar language, when shot: “Lord God, have mercy on my miserable soul; I am lost.”


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S. W. Jenkins (2)
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