‘The religious history of the prisoners confined during the war on Johnson's Island
is worthy of record on several accounts, particularly because it furnishes an excellent illustration of the potency of individual example and effort, even when not under the guidance of an educated mind or extraordinary natural endowments, for the accomplishment of good.
Through the labors of a single individual one of the most remarkable moral reformations was effected in this prison that your correspondent ever witnessed.
When this Christian gentleman entered this prison, a few days after the great battle of Gettysburg
, he found it occupied by about 2,000 prisoners, almost all of whom were officers.
These men had been captured at various points in the South
, and every Southern State was largely represented; and while it would not be just, probably, to say that there was more impiety manifested by these men than is usually found in such miscellaneous collections, it is nevertheless true that several forms of wickedness, such as profanity, gambling and neglect of the Sabbath, had assumed among them very alarming dimensions; and while there was the greatest need for religious effort, the obstacles in the way of success were so many, and of such a nature, as apparently to render any attempt at a reformation almost hopeless.
But, though the impediments to be overcome were so many and so great, God sent us a man bold enough to undertake, and skilful enough to accomplish, the work.
He signalized his presence among us by lifting up at once in the view of all the banner of Jesus.
At first he had only a few followers.
Even many professed disciples of Christ
stood aloof from him for awhile, as if doubting to what this movement would come; but he was not discouraged by the day of “small things;” He persevered in the face of most serious obstacles, exerting his influence at first on single individuals and within the narrow limits of his own prison apartment; then, when his followers had increased in numbers, and he had gained a larger share of the attention of his comrades in bonds, he gradually extended his efforts to other parts of the prison and operated on larger masses.
By means of Bible-classes and prayer-meetings a healthful reactionary movement was inaugurated, which subsequently developed itself into almost every scheme that could be devised for the good of the prison.
A very large Christian association was organized, under whose superintendence several hundred prisoners were instructed in the truths of God's word, and nightly prayers observed in almost every room of ’