in the State of Mississippi, to which State I had followed General Price's army, while we were encamped near Tupelo. Here we kept up nightly meetings for several weeks in our camp, and there were some forty conversions or more. Brothers Bennett, Harris, and myself held a profitable meeting near Granada, Mississippi, where we had some conversions; but for a length of time the army was kept in motion so constantly that we had but little opportunity for religious services. When the army retreated from Big Black into Vicksburg Brothers Bennett, Patterson, and myself, rode together into that devoted city. The regiment to which I was then chaplain had been captured at Big Black, and as I had no duties to perform, I told those brethren that I should make my escape from the city before the enemy's lines were thrown around us, and requested them to join me. Brother Bennett refused, saying he should stick to his men; and Patterson refused to leave Bennett alone. I obtained leave of absence and made my escape by riding all night alone, and found myself outside of Grant's line the next morning, and went into Selma, Alabama, where I spent the summer. I requested Bishop Paine to give me a commission as a missionary to General Price's army, which was then in Arkansas. I obtained it, and left the house of Robert A. Baker, my cousin, in Alabama, on the 15th of September, 1863. I succeeded in making the trip, crossing the Mississippi just below Bolivar, swimming my horse, and arrived in General Price's camp early in October. My first work was to organize all the chaplains and missionaries into an Association for mutual aid and co-operation. When we went into camp at Camp Bragg, thirty miles west of Camden, we there commenced our work in earnest. Through the winter of 1863–‘64 we kept up our meetings in camp, had seats and pulpit prepared, and were successful in having more than one hundred conversions. After the battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill, in Louisiana, our armies returned to Arkansas and made an encampment at a place called Three Creeks, on the southern line of the State of Arkansas. Here I commenced preaching on the 10th of June, 1864, and continued our meetings until the 10th of September. An extensive revival commenced within a few days after our meeting commenced, and grew in interest and power to the close. We had preaching, beginning at early candle-light—or rather pine-knot fires on stands around the preaching-place. After about ten o'clock at night, the preaching and other exercises at the stand closed; but this was but the beginning of the night's work. As soon as dismissed, the young converts gathered in groups of tens and twenties, and went off in companies into the adjoining woods; and taking their friends, penitents seeking religion, with them, they spent the whole night in singing, praying, and praising God. I had lodgings close by the camp at Mrs. Tooke's, a sister of General Buckner, from which, night after night, at all hours, until morning, I could hear the shouts of the new-born souls and the rejoicing of those who were laboring with them for their salvation. This meeting continued, after this manner, until a large majority of the two brigades were happily converted. Before we had progressed very far, an effort was made by some of the officers to interrupt us by having “roll-call” observed at nine o'clock. I went to General Parsons, who was the division commander, and requested him to suspend roll-call at night altogether. He said, “Doctor, I will do anything in my power to promote this great reformation; for I assure you that since your meetings commenced I have not had a complaint entered against a single man in my army, and the people in the country have not been disturbed by a single soldier.” Roll-call was suspended. The people in the country around us became interested in our meetings, and attended them. The remark had been made by many, before our revival meetings commenced, that it was very difficult for a man to be religious in the army; but now it was far more common to hear it said that no one could be very religious unless he belonged to the army.
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.