Chapter 5: Bible and colportage work.The world's history has never presented a wider field of usefulness to the humble colporter who tries to do his duty than the camps and hospitals of the Confederate armies, and rarely have Christian workers more fully improved their golden opportunities. When the war broke out, nearly all of the great publishing houses were located at the North, our people generally did their Bible and tract work in connection with societies whose headquarters were in Northern cities, and our facilities for publishing were very scant. The great societies at the North generally declared Bibles and Testaments ‘contraband of war,’ and we had at once to face the problem of securing supplies through the blockade, or manufacturing them with our poor facilities. The first Confederate Bible printed, so far as I can ascertain, was from the presses of the South-western Publishing House, at Nashville, 1861. A copy of this edition was sent to President Davis, who replied: ‘The Bible is a beautiful specimen of Southern workmanship, and if I live to be inaugurated the first President of the Confederacy, on the 22d of February, my lips shall press the sacred volume which your kindness has bestowed upon me.’ The British and Foreign Bible Society gave to the Confederate Bible Society unlimited credit in the purchase of supplies, and made liberal donations of Bibles and Testaments for our soldiers, as the following statement of Dr. Bennett will show:
Finding that for the main supply they must rely on importations from abroad, the Confederate Bible Society directed its corresponding secretary, Rev. Dr. E. H. Myers, to communicate with the British and Foreign Bible Society, with the view of securing such occasional supplies as might be lucky enough to escape the dangers of the blockade and reach our ports.Dr. Myers, after detailing the operations of the society, said: 
The proposition is simply that we be allowed a credit with your society for the Scriptures we need—say to the value of £ 1,000— until such time as sterling exchange is reduced to about its usual cost—we paying interest on our purchase until the debt is liquidated.To this letter the following noble response was sent, granting the society three times the amount they asked, free of interest:
This venerable institution gave another illustration of the principles on which it is founded by granting to Rev. Dr. M. D. Hoge, of Virginia, who went abroad during the war to procure religious reading-matter for our soldiers, 10,000 Bibles, 50,000 New Testaments, and 250,000 portions of the Scriptures, “mainly for distribution among the soldiers of the Confederate army.” ‘With the portion of these grants that passed in to us through the blockade, the New Testaments printed within our limits, and, we are happy to say, several donations from the American Bible Society—one of 20,000 Testaments to the Baptist Sunday-school Board, and others through the Bible Society of the city of Memphis—our camps were kept partially supplied with the Divine word. We say partially, for often the distribution would be limited to a single copy of the Bible or Testament for a mess of five or six men.’ The visit of Rev. Dr. Moses D. Hoge, of Richmond, to England was not only very useful in securing the large donations of Bibles and Testaments noted above, but his eloquent statement of the religious work in the Confederate armies, in which he was so able and efficient a helper, elicited the sympathies and prayers of many Christians in Great Britain. He brought over also many very valuable books and tracts, some of which were republished for use in our armies. One of my most cherished mementos of the war is a portable Bible, commentary and concordance, which were brought over by Dr. Hoge, and copies of which were presented to many of the chaplains by that accomplished Christian woman and noble worker, Mrs. E. H. Brown (of the Central Presbyterian), who was appropriately called ‘The chaplains' friend,’ and whose untiring labors in the hospitals won her the warm love of the soldiers, and doubtless many ‘stars’ in the ‘crown of rejoicing’ she now wears. Unfortunately, however, only a part of the Bibles and other supplies secured by Dr. Hoge succeeded in ‘running the blockade,’ and many copies of God's word intended for our suffering  soldiers were captured and scattered through the North as ‘souvenirs.’ I must not forget to say that the American Bible Society made liberal donations of their publications, and did it with a Christian courtesy and charity which arose above the passions of the hour, and which our Southern people should gratefully remember, even if they had not continued, after the war, to make grants, amounting to considerably over $100,000, to circulate God's word among the needy of our Southern land. I find this item in a file of the Religious Herald for 1864: ‘On an application by Rev. Levi Thorne, of North Carolina, approved by Governor Vance, 100,000 Bibles and Testaments, principally for North Carolina troops in the Confederate service, were granted by the American Bible Society, New York, at its meeting in December. For the South-west 50,000 were granted at the same time.’ If other societies at the North made any such donations, I am not aware of it, and should be glad to be informed that I may give them due credit. But with all the copies we could import or print, there was a great scarcity of Bibles and Testaments, and we appealed through the papers for extra copies that might be in the homes of the people or in the Sunday-schools. Some of the responses to these appeals were very touching. One lady wrote: ‘This Bible was the property of my dear son H——, who died three years ago; it was given him by his only sister, about the time he was taken sick. For this reason I have kept it back, but seeing the earnest request in the papers, and as I can no longer read its sacred pages, after dropping a tear at parting with it, I send it for the use of the soldiers. I had given away long since all I could find about the house, and now send you this, hoping that, with God's blessing, it may save some soul.’ In response to one of my appeals, I received from Miss Chapin, his aunt, the pocket-Bible which E. Garland Sydnor (son of our honored brother, Rev. Dr. T. W. Sydnor) carried in his pocket when he gave his noble young life to ‘the land he loved.’ It was stained with the blood of the patriot-soldier, and his aunt wrote that while she prized it above all price, she could not withhold it from some poor soldier who needed it, and sent it bedewed with her tears and carrying with it her prayers. I  wrote on a fly-leaf a statement of these circumstances, and requested its return to me if it should survive the war. I carried it for a noble fellow in Wright's Georgia Brigade, who had recently found Christ in the camp, and to whom I had promised a Bible, but found that he had been killed on the skirmish-line that morning, and had gone to study God's truth with clearer vision and in the clearer light of heaven. I gave it to another, and ten days after his messmate brought me back the Bible, saying that his comrade had fallen in the forefront of the battle, and had died in the hospital in the full assurance of the Christian faith, and with warm expressions concerning the comfort and joy which that Bible had given him. I then gave it to my old university friend and brother, Edwin Bowie, of Westmoreland county, who was badly wounded, but survived the war, and only last year the book, around which so many hallowed associations and precious memories cluster, was returned to Dr. Sydnor. Garland Sydnor was a cousin of Captain Hugh A. White, whose death has been described in the previous chapter, and there are some interesting coincidences in their lives, and the circumstances attending their death, which seem worthy of record: 1. They were near the same age—Hugh born in September, 1840, and Garland in March, 1843. 2. They were sons of ministers of the Gospel. 3. Like Timothy, they knew the Scriptures from childhood, each having been taught by a pious mother and a pious grandmother. 4. Each made a public profession of religion when about fifteen years of age. 5. Each decided shortly after his conversion to devote himself to the ministry, and had entered upon a course of study preparatory to that great work—Hugh at Union Theological Seminary, and Garland at Columbian College. 6. Their studies were interrupted by the war, and each returned to his home and volunteered as a soldier in the Confederate army. 7. They proved themselves brave and patriotic soldiers, and through all their military career maintained an elevated and consistent Christian character. 8. Both lost their lives in battle—Hugh in the second battle  of Manassas, and Garland just two weeks after, in the battle of Sharpsburg. 9. Each was slain while bearing aloft the flag of his regiment. Reared in different parts of the State, these young men were never brought together except on the field of battle, and had no personal acquaintance with each other. They were taught to know and to love each other by their fathers, who were very intimate. ‘Their hopes, their fears, their aims were one.’ ‘Lovely and pleasant in their lives, in their death they were not divided.’ As showing the desire of the men to procure Bibles, and the expedients to which we resorted to supply them, I give the following clippings from the newspapers of the day:
 I have an old memorandum-book filled with names of soldiers from every State of the Confederacy who had applied to me for Bibles and Testaments, and some of the scenes I witnessed in my work of Bible and tract distribution are as fresh in my memory as if they had occurred on yesterday. I had a pair of large ‘saddle-bags’ which I used to pack with tracts and religious newspapers, and with Bibles and Testaments when I had them, and besides this I would strap packages behind my saddle and on the pommel. Thus equipped I would sally forth, and as I drew near the camp some one would raise the cry, ‘Yonder comes the Bible and tract man,’ and such crowds would rush out to meet me, that frequently I would sit on my horse and distribute my supply before I could even get into the camp. But if I had Bibles or Testaments to distribute, the poor fellows would crowd around and beg for them as earnestly as if they were golden guineas for free distribution. Yes, the word of God seemed to these brave men ‘more precious than gold—yea than much fine gold.’ The men were accustomed to form ‘reading clubs,’ not to read the light literature of the day, but to read God's word, and not unfrequently have I seen groups of twenty-five or thirty gather around some good reader, who for several hours would read with clear voice selected portions of the Scriptures. I have never seen more diligent Bible-readers than we had in the Army of Northern Virginia. The efforts made by our Confederate people to supply our armies with Bibles and religious reading were worthy of all praise, and a whole volume would not suffice to give even a meagre record of the labors of the different societies formed for the purpose. Dr. W. W. Bennett, who was himself Superintendent of the Soldiers' Tract Association, and a most efficient chaplain, has given in his ‘Great Revival’ so admirable a summary of the work of these agencies, that I quote him, as follows: So important was the work of colportage in promoting religion among the soldiers, that we feel constrained to devote to it a separate chapter. And the pious laborers in this department are eminently worthy of a place by the side of the most devoted chaplains and missionaries that toiled in the army revival. Receiving but a pittance from the societies that employed them, subsisting on the coarse and scanty fare of the soldiers,  often sleeping on the wet ground, following the march of the armies through cold or heat, through dust or mud, everywhere were these devoted men to be seen scattering the leaves of the Tree of Life. Among the sick, the wounded, and the dying, on the battle-fields, and in the hospitals they moved, consoling them with tender words, and pointing their drooping spirits to the hopes of the Gospel. The record of their labors is the record of the army revival; they fanned its flame and spread it on every side by their prayers, their conversations, their books, and their preaching. They went out from all the churches, and labored together in a spirit worthy of the purest days of our holy religion. The aim of them all was to turn the thoughts of the soldiers not to a sect, but to Christ, to bring them into the great spiritual temple, and to show them the wonders of salvation. If any man among us can look back with pleasure on his labors in the army, it is the Christian colporter. The number of religious tracts and books distributed by the colporters, chaplains, and missionaries in the army, we can never know. But as all the churches were engaged in the work of printing and circulating, it is not an overestimate to say that hundreds of millions of pages were sent out by the different societies. And, considering the facilities for printing in the South during the war, we may safely assert that never were the soldiers of a Christian nation better supplied with such reading as maketh wise unto salvation; and certainly, never amidst circumstances so unpropitious to human view, did fruits so ripe, so rich, so abundant, spring up so quickly from the labors of God's servants. Earliest in the important work of colportage was the Baptist Church, one of the most powerful denominations in the South. In May, 1861, at the General Association of the Baptist Churches in Virginia, vigorous measures were adopted for supplying the religious wants of the army. The Sunday-school and Publication Board, in their report on colportage, said: “The presence of large armies in our State affords a fine opportunity for colportage effort among the soldiers. These are exposed to peculiar temptations, and in no way can we better aid them in resisting these than by affording them good books. To this department of our operations we ask the special, earnest attention of the General Association. Shall we enter this wide and inviting field, place good books in the hands of our soldiers, and surround them by pious influences? or shall  we remain indifferent to the spiritual dangers and temptations of those who are flocking hither to defend all we hold dear?” The association cordially responded, and “recommended to the board to appoint at once, if practicable, a sufficient number of colporters to occupy all the important points of rendezvous, and promptly to reach all the soldiers in service in the State; that during the war as many colporters as could be profitably employed, and as the means of the board would admit, be kept in service; that special contributions to colportage should be raised from the Baptist Churches, from the community, and even from such persons in other of the Confederate States as may feel interested in the welfare of the soldiers who are gathered from the various Southern States to fight their common battles on the soil of Virginia; that steps should be taken to secure the issue of a tract or tracts specially adapted to general circulation among the soldiers.” The work was put in charge of Rev. A. E. Dickinson, who had already acquired a valuable experience and a high reputation as the Superintendent of Colportage under the direction of the General Association. He sent forth his well-trained band of colporters into this new field, which they cultivated with the happiest results, and with a zeal and self-denial worthy of the cause of Christ. One year after these labors were commenced, Mr. Dickinson said, in his annual report:
We have collected $24,000, with which forty tracts have been published, 6,187,000 pages of which have been distributed, besides 6,095 Testaments, 13,845 copies of the little volume called ‘Camp Hymns,’ and a large number of religious books. Our policy has been to seek the co-operation of chaplains and other pious men in the army, and, as far as possible, to work through them. How pleasant to think of the thousands who, far from their loved ones, are, every hour in the day, in the loneliness and gloom of the hospital, and in the bustle and mirth of the camp, reading some of these millions of pages which have been distributed, and thus have been led to turn unto the Lord.In his report for 1863, in the midst of the war, he says:
Modern history presents no example of armies so nearly converted into churches as the armies of Southern defence. On the crest of this flood of war, which threatens to engulf our freedom, rides a pure Christianity; the Gospel of the grace of  God shines through the smoke of battle with the light that leads to heaven; and the camp becomes a school of Christ. From the very first day of the unhappy contest to the present time, religious influences have been spreading among the soldiers, until now, in camp and hospital, throughout every portion of the army, revivals display their precious, saving power. In one of these revivals over three hundred are known as having professed conversion, while, doubtless, there are hundreds of others equally blessed, whose names, unrecorded here, find a place in the ‘Lamb's book of life.’And in 1865, in reviewing the blessed work of saving souls amid the bloody scenes of four gloomy years, the board said:
Millions of pages of tracts have been put in circulation, and thousands of sermons delivered by the sixty missionaries whom we have sent to our brave armies. If it could be known by us here and now how many souls have been saved by this agency, doubtless the announcement would fill us with surprise and rejoicing. Hundreds and thousands, we verily believe, have in this way obtained the Christian's hope, and are now occupying some place in the great vineyard of the Lord, or have gone up from the strife and sorrow of earth to the peaceful enjoyments of the heavenly home. The Evangelical Tract Society, organized in the city of Petersburg, Virginia, in July, 1861, by Christians of the different denominations, was a most efficient auxiliary in the great work of saving souls. It was ably officered, and worked with great success in the publication and circulation of some of the best tract-reading that appeared during the war. More than a hundred different tracts were issued; and in less than one year after the organization of the society, it had sent among the soldiers more than a million pages of these little messengers of truth. The Army and Navy Messenger, a most excellent religious paper, was also published by this society, and circulated widely and with the best results among the soldiers. Holding a position similar to that of the American Tract Society, this association was liberally sustained by all denominations, and had ample means for supplying the armies with every form of religious reading, from the Holy Scriptures to the smallest one-page tract. Its officers, editors, agents, and colporters were among the most faithful, zealous, and successful laborers in all departments of the army,  During the period of its operations, it has been estimated that 50,000,000 pages of tracts were put in circulation by it. The Presbyterian Board of Publication, under the direction of Rev. Dr. Leyburn and other ministers of that Church, entered the field and did faithful service in the good cause. The regular journals of that denomination, a monthly paper—The Soldier's Visitor—specially adapted to the wants of the army, Bibles, Testaments, and most excellent tracts in vast numbers, were freely sent forth to all the camps and hospitals from their centre of operations. The Virginia Episcopal Mission Committee heartily united in the work, and spent thousands of dollars per annum in sending missionaries to the army, and in printing and circulating tracts. Rev. Messrs. Gatewood and Kepler, of the Protestant Episcopal Church, were the zealous directors of operations in Virginia, while in other States such men as Bishop Elliott, of Georgia, Doctor, now Bishop, Quintard, of Tennessee, and the lamented General Polk gave the weight of their influence and the power of their eloquence, written and oral, to promote the cause of religion among our soldiers. At Raleigh, North Carolina, early in the war, Rev. W. J. W. Crowder commenced the publication of tracts, encouraged and assisted by contributions from all classes of persons. In less than a year he reported: “We have published, of thirty different tracts, over 5,000,000 pages, more than half of which we have given away, and the other half we have sold at about the cost of publication—1,500 pages for one dollar.” This gentleman continued his labors in this good work throughout the war, and furnished millions of pages of the best tracts for army circulation. ‘The Soldiers' Tract Association’ of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was organized and went into operation in March, 1862, and became a valuable auxiliary in the work of colportage and tract distribution. By midsummer it had put in circulation nearly 800,000 pages of tracts, and had ten efficient colporters in the field. Its operations steadily increased to the close of the war; and besides the dissemination of millions of pages of excellent religious reading, with thousands of Bibles and Testaments, two semi-monthly papers were issued, The Soldier's Paper, at Richmond, Virginia, and The Army and Navy Herald, at Macon, Georgia, 40,000 copies of which were circulated every month throughout the armies.  In addition to these, there were other associations of a like character successfully at work in this wide and inviting field. The Georgia Bible and Colportage Society, Rev. F. M. Haygood, agent, was actively engaged in the work of printing and circulating tracts in the armies of the South-west. The South Carolina Tract Society was an earnest ally in the holy cause, and sent out its share of tracts to swell the vast number scattered like leaves of the Tree of Life all over the land. The presses in every great commercial centre were busy in throwing off religious reading of every description, and yet so great was the demand that the supply was unequal to it during the whole of the war. At Richmond, Raleigh, Columbia, Charleston, Augusta, Mobile, Macon, Atlanta, and other cities, good men labored day and night to give our gallant soldiers the bread of life; and still the cry from the army was, “Send us more good books.” At one period of the war the Baptist Board alone circulated 200,000 pages of tracts weekly, besides Testaments and hymn-books; and, with the joint labors of other societies, we may estimate that when the work was at its height not less than 1,000,000 pages a week were put into the hands of our soldiers.Rev. Dr. C. H. Ryland, who was a colporter in the army during the first year (sustained by his own church, Bruington, King and Queen county), and afterwards depositary, agent and treasurer of the army colportage work of the Virginia Baptist Sunday-school and Publication Board, has kindly furnished me the following additional facts and figures. The Bible Board, in its report for 1861, said: ‘We earnestly suggest to the association the importance of making prompt and adequate provision for supplying our soldiery with the Bible. While in aid of what we all esteem a noble and sacred cause, the protection of our homes, our firesides, our altars, our mothers, sisters, wives and little ones from desecration and outrage by wicked and cruel invaders, we put into the hands of our brave defenders appropriate weapons; let us not fail to supply them with the means of waging an even higher and holier, because a spiritual and Divine, warfare. Let us give every man not already armed with it “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” ’ At the meeting of the same body in 1863, this board was ‘instructed  to correspond with pastors suited to the work and endeavor to engage them to labor as voluntary evangelists in the army, and that the board defray their expenses.’ ‘Resolved: That this board be instructed, in connection with other boards which may deem such a measure important for their interests, to inquire into the expediency of deputing some suitable brother to visit Europe, for the purpose of procuring Bibles, books, tracts and any other appliances that may aid the general usefulness of such boards; and, if deemed expedient, be authorized to make arrangements therefor.’ During 1862 and 1863 alone this Sunday-school and Publication Board collected for army colportage $84,000. It published and distributed in the army 30,187,000 pages of tracts, 31,000 Bibles and Testaments, 14,000 ‘Camp Hymns,’ and thousands upon thousands of religious books sent by the people from their homes, and religious papers without number. During 1864 sixty colporters were kept at work in the army. These were kept supplied with tracts, Bibles and Testaments, but for this year the exact records have been lost. I regret that I have been unable to obtain fuller and more exact reports of the other Bible and tract societies; but the following clippings from war files of the religious newspapers give the most interesting details of the spirit with which our people engaged in the work, and the wonderful success which crowned their efforts. ‘The annual report of the Southern Methodist Episcopal Soldiers' Tract Association for 1863 shows a receipt during the year of $95,456.71, and a disbursement of $64,470.60. The association has issued for circulation 7,000,000 pages of tracts, 45,000 soldiers' hymn books, 15,000 soldiers' almanacs, 15,000 Bible readings for soldiers; and has circulated 15,000 copies of the Holy Scriptures—Bibles, Testaments and Gospels separately bound, 50,000 copies of The Soldier's Paper and 20,000 copies of The Army and Navy Herald.’ The Petersburg Express says: ‘When the war commenced, the Baptists of Virginia were extensively engaged in the work of colportage. They were soon impressed with the importance of employing this powerful agency in circulating the Scriptures and religious books in the army. After a few months' labor it was found that the colporters were highly esteemed by the soldiers, and Rev. A. E. Dickinson was instructed by the General Association  of Virginia to appeal to the Christians of the South for means to publish and circulate Testaments and tracts. These appeals, made through secular and religious papers, were liberally responded to by men of all denominations. The board intrusted with the management of this immense work is composed of men of intelligence. They have sought distinction neither for themselves nor the society they represent. It has a history that will survive the present revolution—a place in the affections and a claim to the esteem of the public that time cannot shake. All of its numerous publications are said to be highly evangelical, and commend themselves to members of all denominations. We have no means at present of estimating the number of pages this society has printed and circulated. It has done much—and much remains to be done. The army is large and is daily growing larger. The demand for the Scriptures and tracts continues to be as great, if not greater than at any former period.’ Rev. A. E. Dickinson, the general superintendent of this board, gives the following incidents illustrating the feeling of our people generally at the beginning of this work:
Mr. Dickinson wisely secured the influence and help of our best men, as the following will show. Hon. John Randolph Tucker has been for years a member of the Presbyterian Church, and one of those public men who never hesitates ‘to show his colors’—to speak out for Christ.
And the following report of a grand mass-meeting held in Richmond in the same interest will show the general coopera-tion of our people.
Last Sabbath evening, at the First Baptist Church of this city, an unusually enthusiastic meeting was held, in behalf of army colportage. Every seat was occupied, while many went away unable to find admission. After singing and prayer, Rev. A. E. Dickinson made some statements, giving an account of  what had been effected by colportage labors among the soldiers. Rev. Robert Ryland, D. D., colporter for the hospitals of this city gave a deeply interesting narrative of his labors. He had found the inmates of our hospitals eager to receive instruction. Sometimes they had professed to be greatly benefited by the tracts, and often sent for him to come again. An invalid remarked to him, that prior to his entering the army he had enjoyed religion, and had been a member of the Presbyterian Church; but, surrounded by the vices of the camp, he had become a backslider and lost all religious enjoyment. After frequent conversations he became much interested in his soul's salvation, sent for the colporter again and again, and before his death expressed himself perfectly resigned to the will of God. Other facts and incidents of much interest were narrated. He was followed by John Randolph Tucker, Esq., in a speech of great power and eloquence. Mr. Tucker thought it augured well for the country that such an immense audience had assembled, notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather, to consider the spiritual wants of our army. We are passing through the most momentous era in the history of this country. The year 1861 was filled with victories and covered Southern arms with imperishable glory; but from the beginning of this year we have met with nothing but disaster. Every message brought over the telegraph but tells of some new defeat. Why is this? Up to the battle of Manassas our whole people were prostrate before God in prayer. The speaker had met with many on the street with prayer trembling on their lips, while tears of penitence filled their eyes. Now, those men have upon their lips blasphemous oaths, and their eyes are never turned to God for His blessing. After the great victory of Manassas we ceased to realize our dependence on heaven; and nothing was more common than to hear such expressions as, “We can whip the Yankees any way.” Greed and avarice have taken possession of the hearts of many, while in every portion of the Confederacy distilleries have been springing up, until now the whole land groans under the liquid poison which is sweeping so many of our soldiers into the grave. Our streets are blocked up with men made drunk by the distilleries. How dare we expect the blessing of God when such things are tolerated? It is the decree of heaven that “righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach  to any people.” It is vain to speak of the justice of our cause, unless we seek upon that cause the blessing of heaven, and use the instrumentality which Providence places in our hands. The speaker believed that piety will make a man a truer patriot and a braver soldier. It assures him that God is his friend; that “all things work together for his good,” and that when he falls into the icy grasp of death, his soul will rise up to the unfading bliss of heaven. It is not necessary to refer to Cromwell, Havelock and other pious generals, to illustrate this great principle. We have illustrations in every division of our own army. Where can we look for a braver soldier than Stonewall Jackson; and yet never had the speaker known a more humble and earnest Christian than this noble man. What will become of these hundreds of thousands of soldiers when they return? If religious influences are not now brought to bear upon them, we may expect at the close of this war to have the country overrun with the most desperate, lawless men ever known in the South. In view of all these considerations, the speaker argued that this work has the most weighty claims upon all classes of the community. Mr. Tucker closed with an eloquent tribute to President Davis. In all his reading he had never known of a state paper closing, as the President's inaugural address, with an earnest prayer to the God of heaven, for His blessing upon himself and his country. Colonel Wright, member of Congress from Georgia, followed in an able speech. Nothing is more powerful than words, and the pen is mightier than the sword. From experience in command, he was prepared to commend this work. There is no better way to insure success in this great struggle than by surrounding our men with religious influences. It is difficult to get the soldier to attend regular preaching, but he will read a tract, and in the tedium of camp-life nothing is more acceptable. Colonel Wright closed with an eloquent appeal in behalf of the soldiers' spiritual culture. Hon. J. L. M. Curry said that he had made no promise to speak, but his love for the cause would not permit him to be silent when called out, if any words of his would advance its interests. He had no hope of success in establishing a free government unless Christian principle permeates all classes. There must be in high and low station a Christian conscience. We need a conservative element. This point was elaborated with  power, and with that high order of eloquence so characteristic of this distinguished gentleman. Mr. Curry narrated some thrilling incidents in illustration of the good that may be done by circulating Testaments and tracts among the soldiers. ‘Judge Chilton, representative of the Montgomery District (Alabama) in Congress, said it was too late for him to enter upon any lengthy remarks, but that with all his heart he endorsed the cause. He believed it one of the holiest and most glorious to which a good man can aspire. He had given to it the previous Sabbath, but was willing to give again, and to continue to give as long as he had a dollar and as any soldier's soul needed to be cared for. While the devil's colporters are going from camp to camp destroying the souls of our dear boys, he felt that the Christian community must do all in their power to counteract their ruinous influence. A collection was made, amounting to $1,250, after which the congregation was dismissed, all feeling that the entertainment was an ‘over-pay’ for going out on such an inclement evening.’ Rev. Dr. A. E. Dickinson, of Richmond, now editor of the Religious Herald, has had a career of great usefulness in the varied stations he has occupied, but the assertion is ventured that he never had four years of more abundant evidence of God's richest blessing upon his labors than during the years he superintended the grand work of his board in the camps and hospitals of the Confederacy, and pushed it forward with a zeal and consecrated tact which entitles him to a high place on the record of our army work. The same may be said also of Dr. Bennett and others who had charge of army colportage. Dr. Dickinson, however, kept his work constantly and so prominently before the public, through both the religious and secular press, that our newspaper-files abound with most interesting details of the labors of his colporters, 100 of whom he turned into the camps and hospitals at the very beginning of the war, and it is a very easy task to cull from his reports all the material necessary to further illustrate this chapter. I only regret that the material for a sketch of the labors of the other boards and societies is not so accessible. But none of these evangelical societies published sectarian tracts or engaged in sectarian labors during the war, and in giving, therefore, the work of one, I really give but a specimen of that of them all.  I quote, then, in extenso, from the reports of Dr. Dickinson, and along with these such reports of others as I have been able to find.
Rev. W. J. W. Crowder, who did so noble a work in printing and circulating tracts, gives the following statement concerning his work: 
The following is from Rev. J. C. Hiden, who was laboring as chaplain in the Wise Legion: ‘Can't you send me some Testaments and tracts? They are greatly needed in the army. Vast numbers of our soldiers have none. I was walking along near camp the other day, with some tracts under my arm, when a man on horseback said to me: “Give me one of those to read, so as to keep me out of devilment.” 'Twas a rough way of expressing a good idea, I thought. Of course I gave him one, and immediately the soldiers were swarming around me, desiring to be furnished, and were sadly disappointed when they saw that my supply was exhausted. I turned away with a sad heart to see so many hungering in vain for that which was able to make them wise unto salvation.’ A chaplain—Rev. W. B. Owen—thus writes from Leesburg, Virginia: ‘A package of tracts sent to Captain Ivey, Seventeenth Mississippi Regiment, came to hand, and I am glad of the opportunity to thank you for them. I assure you, had you been present as I passed up and down every company in our regiment distributing them, and seen how eagerly they were read by the soldiers, you would be stimulated to put forth every exertion to scatter such blessings continually among the soldiers. We have had considerable religious interest in our regiment;  some have been converted, and others are seeking Jesus. If you can, do send us more tracts of different kinds, and 100 copies or more of that excellent tract, “Come to Jesus.” ’ A surgeon writes:
Brother J. C. Clopton, one of our colporters, writes: ‘During my stay among the forces under General Jackson I heard little profanity. There are many pious, Christian men in this division of the army, and among others the general himself. I am told that he keeps on hand a supply of tracts, and occasionally goes among his men as a tract distributer. One of his aids inquired of me where tracts could be obtained, and gave me $5 to help on the cause.’ 
A few days since a colporter was distributing tracts among a number of soldiers. He gave to an officer of high grade a tract, entitled, “A mother's parting words to her soldier boy.” Turning to the colporter, he said: “Oh, sir, I can never thank you enough for this tract! The title itself is a most affecting sermon to me. My mother spoke words of tenderness and love to me as I was about to leave her for the army, and everything that reminds me of those words affects my heart.” Tears rolled down his cheeks while he spoke, so that a bystander afterwards remarked that he had never seen a man more perfectly subdued. Thus it is that a mere sentence is often blessed of God to  the good of souls. A one-page tract, headed “Eternity,” was handed to a wild young man, and the word eternity filled him with alarm and was instrumental in leading him to Christ. “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world and things that are despised, yea, and things that are not, to bring to nought the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.” “A mother's parting words,” etc., is a most interesting and touching tract of eight pages, written by one of the best writers in the Southern Confederacy. Let every mother buy a copy (price one cent) and send it to her “soldier boy.” Brother M. D. Anderson, Richmond, Virginia: ‘A short time ago I met a young man from one of the upper counties of this State, who had been wounded. When I commenced talking with him on the subject of religion, he said, “Oh, sir, don't you remember that at the camp-meeting in——you spoke with me on this subject? Do pray for me.” He has since been converted and raised up from his bed of suffering, and is actively engaged distributing tracts in the army, and in many other ways seeking to glorify his Saviour. An old marine, who had weathered many a storm, who was lying sick in the hospital, seemed astonished that I should urge upon his attention the claims of the Gospel. “How is it that you, a young man, should be so concerned about me, a poor sailor?” He said that rarely, if ever before in his life, had any one spoken to him about his soul. From day to day I visited him, and his interest in Divine things grew until, I think, he became a true Christian. He certainly died a most happy death. To-day a soldier, after receiving from me a few tracts and a book, handed me five dollars as a donation to the board.’ Rev. W. L. Fitcher, Petersburg, Virginia: ‘The work of the Lord is progressing in Petersburg. We scarcely ever go to the hospital without finding some one concerned about the salvation of his soul. The tracts are very kindly received and read with soul-saving interest by many.’ ‘The following report of Dr. R. Ryland's labors will be read with interest.—A. E. D.’
Elder J. A. Doll writes:
A private letter from a soldier who was in the Maryland campaign, published in the South-western Baptist, says: ‘I had my Bible in my right breast-pocket, and a ball struck it and bounced back. It would have made a severe wound but for the Bible.’ Brother H. Madison writes: ‘I have seen much of the goodness of God since coming to the army. Many and warm thanks I receive from the soldier. Oh, it is a sad and yet glorious thing to see a Christian soldier. They are so happy, so powerfully sustained of the Lord as, far from home, they go through the dark valley. I might tell you the particulars of two such cases.’ Rev. M. D. Anderson: ‘I met with a young man some time ago, who said to me: “Parson, you gave me a book (‘Baxter's Call’), which I have been reading, and it has made me very unhappy; I feel that my condition is awful, and desire to find peace.” I pointed him to the Lord Jesus. His regiment was ordered off, and therefore I have not seen him of late, but have written to him. While in a hospital with my tracts, one poor afflicted soldier wept piteously and said: “Sir, I cannot read; will you be good enough to read some of those tracts to me?” I read several, and among them, “A mother's parting words to her soldier boy.” “Oh,” said  he, “that reminds me so much of my poor old mother, who has faded from earth since I joined the army.” He wept and seemed greatly affected.’ Rev. J. B. Hardwick: ‘God is blessing the distribution of tracts and the labors of chaplains and colporters here (Petersburg). More than a hundred soldiers have been converted since April. I never knew a work of grace so powerful, quiet, and deep. It seems at times, that the hospital is a Bethel. But we need more assistance—I call for reinforcements, and you must furnish them immediately, if possible. Send us at least two colporters, one for the hospitals and the other for the camps.’ Rev. J. C. Hiden: ‘Can't you send us a colporter here (Charlottesville). There is a most encouraging state of things at present. I am holding a protracted meeting. Crowds attend the preaching, and some have professed a change of heart, while others are interested. It is an interesting sight to see men, wounded in every variety of way, sitting attentive to the story of the Cross.’ Rev. T. J. McVeigh, chaplain at Farmville: ‘My supply of tracts has been distributed, and the soldiers ask for more. I administered the ordinance of baptism (for the first time) a few Sabbaths since, in the Appomattox river, to a young soldier from Alabama. It was the most deeply interesting and beautiful scene I ever witnessed. All of the soldiers who were able to leave their rooms gathered upon the banks of the river, and seemed to have a high appreciation of the ordinance.’ Rev. Wm. Huff, Marion, Virginia: ‘Our colporters now in the Western army are laboring with encouraging prospects. Rev. J. H. Harris is visiting General Marshall's command. He finds them destitute, and anxious for something to read. He says: “After the labors of the day it is truly gratifying to see them grouped together, reading aloud to each other such portions of their tracts as interest them most, and speaking in the highest praise of the little camp hymn-books.” ’ . . . Rev. M. D. Anderson: ‘I formed the acquaintance of a noble young man, the nephew of a most useful Baptist minister. Found him interested in reference to his soul, and endeavored to explain to him the Gospel. He urged me to come to see him again, as he was quite sick. When I went again and found him sinking, on being asked how he was he replied, “I know in whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I  have committed unto Him.” At my next visit I found him unable to speak above a whisper. I stooped down to his ear and inquired how it was with him. He replied, “I had rather depart and be with Christ, which is far better;” and in this delightful frame of mind he passed to his heavenly home.’ Rev. A. L. Strough, chaplain Thirty-seventh North Carolina Regiment: ‘In our retreat from Newberne, North Carolina, when overpowered by the superior force of the enemy, we lost nearly all the Testaments, etc., we had, and have not since been able to secure anything to read except fifteen small volumes presented to us by Kingston Baptist Church. Our regiment is now in four different directions, hence the chaplain cannot be with them all. Before we left North Carolina there were 137 in the regiment penitently inquiring after the Saviour.’ Rev. W. G. Margrave: ‘Besides laboring here and there in the camps and hospitals, I have paid special attention to the sick in Lewisburg. Just before I left home, I visited a sick soldier and read to him the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John. He said, “I have but one more step to take, and I shall be over the Jordan of death,” and soon, in perfect peace, he passed away. I commit all into the hands of my Father in Heaven, and go forth to tell of Jesus' dying love. We must return to God and restore that of which we are robbing Him, if we would be blessed. Say to our Congress, restore to God His Sabbath by stopping the transportation and opening of the mails on the day of the Lord.’ Rev. A. M. Grimsley writes, from Culpeper county: ‘God is blessing us up here. Many of our brave boys have professed conversion. God grant that the work may spread.’ Rev. C. F. Fry: ‘The past month I have spent in Winchester, Woodstock, and Staunton. Several have expressed themselves as being anxiously concerned about the great salvation. It was, of course, a delightful work to point them to the sinner's Friend. I also found many truly devoted Christians, who seemed rejoiced to have a colporter come among them. They are eager to secure reading matter. An officer remarked to me that he believed that the men would read more of a religious character now than during all their former lives, from the fact that they cannot obtain any other reading than that which the colporter carries them, and they are compelled to read to relieve the tedium of the camp and hospital.’  Brother Henry Madison, near Winchester: ‘Every night, for some time, I have had prayer-meetings in the tent of Captain S——, which is filled even to overflowing. My own heart has been made to rejoice at seeing how gladly the word is received, and how deep and sincere the interest seems to be. I have been kindly received by officers and privates. I visited a wounded soldier, who told me that before the war he enjoyed the presence and blessing of God, but that the temptations and vices of the camp had swept him on in sin. Since the wound was received he has had time to repent of his backslidings, and seems now to have returned to his first love. “Oh,” said he, “it was a great mercy in God to send upon me this affliction, and I can truly say, with the apostle, that these light afflictions, which are but for a moment, are working out for me a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” ’ Rev. J. M. B. Roach, chaplain of Tenth Alabama Regiment, writes; ‘Just before the battle of Williamsburg, a lieutenant asked me for a copy of each of my tracts. He compressed them into as small a space as possible, and placed them in his pocket. During the battle he was struck by a ball which, in all probability, would have deprived him of life had it not lodged in the tracts, which were just over his heart. He seems solemnly affected, and I trust will soon be at the feet of Jesus.’ Brother J. C. Clopton: ‘Passing along to the hospital and handing tracts to numbers of soldiers on the way, as I was approaching a man the evil one tempted me, suggesting that it was hardly worth while to give him one; but, going up to him and inquiring whether he was a Christian, I found instantly that he was under deep conviction of sin. “Can you stop awhile with me? I wish to speak with you,” he said. Then, as we sat together, with tears and sobbings he told me of his sin-burdened heart, and asked to be directed to Jesus. Another, nigh unto death, said to me, “I am nearly to my journey's end, and, oh, sir, I would give worlds if I had them for the Christian's hope.” He seemed deeply moved, and I tried to explain to him the way. He has since passed to the spirit land.’ Rev. G. C. Trevillian: ‘The revival is still progressing among the soldiers at this place (Lynchburg), and many are inquiring after the Saviour. I go from one to another, distributing tracts in the day, and at night we have a prayer-meeting. About fifty have professed conversion in connection with the meetings at the  Baptist Church. I have also spent a week at Liberty, where I found a deep interest as to religious matters among the soldiers. Many of them begged me to hold a protracted meeting there.’
Rev. W. L. Fitcher, Petersburg: ‘There is still much religious interest here among the soldiers. I handed, this morning, to an aged soldier, the tract, “The sick and the Physician.” “That means the Saviour,” said he; “Oh, that he were my Saviour!” “Many of my company have become Christians,” said another, “and I too wish to learn what I must do to be saved.” He requested me to visit him, and aid him in securing life everlasting.’ 
The following is from one of the most useful ministers we ever had in Virginia:
A few days since, a lady said to Elder William G. Margrave:  ‘My husband, before he became a soldier, rarely ever read the word of God, but now he delights in perusing its blessed pages. He hopes that his sins are forgiven, and that he is a child of God.’ Through what instrumentality was this soldier converted? A lady in Fincastle, who from the beginning of the war has been a tract distributer, furnished the printed page which, under God, brought about this change. Thus does the Divine Spirit honor those who seek to honor the Master by saving precious souls. We know not what word, what page, what sermon is thus to be honored, and hence, ‘Blessed are they that sow beside all waters.’ ‘In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand, for thou knowest not whether shall prosper either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.’—A. E. D. The following from the Christian Advocate, communicated by a chaplain, is suggestive: ‘A young man in my company,’ said a lieutenant in one of our regiments, ‘came out before his comrades and openly embraced religion to the surprise of us all. One day he happened in my tent, and I inquired by what means his mind was awakened so suddenly to the subject of religion. He took from his pocket a letter from his mother, saying, “There is something in that letter which affected me as it had never done before.” The letter said: “We have sent you a box of nice clothes, and a fine variety of cakes and fruits, and other luxuries and comforts, and many good times we hope you will have enjoying those nice things with your friends.” Near the close of the letter were these words: “We are praying for you, Charlie, that you may become a Christian.” “That's the sentence,” said the grateful boy, and the tears gushed from his eyes. “When I was eating those dainties, I thought, mother is praying for me. I knew where she used to go to pray, and I could almost hear the words, ‘We are all praying for you, Charlie, that you may become a Christian.’ Now, I thank God for a praying mother, for her prayer is answered, and I am happy.” ’ ‘The amount contributed during July and August for the Sunday-School and Publication Board will not fall short of twenty thousand dollars. Never have the churches responded more liberally to the claims of this board than of late. A church in Pittsylvania county (Shockoe) has this year given $2,400—one member leading the list with $900—a larger amount than a few years ago was contributed by all the churches in Virginia to  Baptist colportage. Berea Church, in Louisa county, instead of giving us about $100 as formerly, has already raised in the neighborhood of $1,000 as its contribution for this year. The churches of the James River Association sent up to their annual meeting an average of more than $200 apiece without a word being said to any one of them by an agent.’ . . .—A. E. D. ‘Brother E. Steadman, of Georgia, authorized Elder A. E. Dickinson to draw on him for $25,000 for army colportage. This is in addition to the $6,000 recently paid by him to our board for the same purpose.’ ‘A wounded Confederate captain was recently baptized at Shelby, North Carolina, who was awakened and led to Jesus while in camp by a ‘fragment of a religious tract’ which he picked up in an adjoining grove.’ ‘A missionary in the Army of Northern Virginia mentions the case of a lady at home who attributed her conviction and subsequent conversion to a tract which her cousin in the army procured from our depository at Orange Court House, and sent to her last winter.’
The above details might be almost indefinitely multiplied, and  the work of the colporters described up to the very close of the war; for they carried the ‘bread of life’ to the trenches at Petersburg, and did not cease their labors until the dissolution of the army at Appomattox. But want of space forbids further details, and besides, the labors of the colporters soon mingled with those of the chaplains and missionaries, and will be further described as we tell the story of the great revivals which resulted from God's blessing on these combined labors.