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
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
, 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 ”