Chapter 7: work of the chaplains and missionaries.Unquestionably one of the most potent factors in the grand success of our work was the union of hearts and hands on the part of chaplains and missionaries, and indeed of all Christian workers of the evangelical denominations. The gifted and lamented Dr. Wm. J. Hoge thus wrote of a visit he made to Fredericksburg in the spring of 1863, during the great revival in Barksdale's Mississippi Brigade: ‘The Rev. Dr. Burrows, of the First Baptist Church, Richmond, was to have preached that night, but as he would remain some days and I could only stay a day, he courteously insisted on my preaching. And so we had a Presbyterian sermon, introduced by Baptist services, under the direction of a Methodist chaplain, in an Episcopal church. Was not that a beautiful solution of the vexed problem of Christian union?’ This was but a type of what was usual all through the army. No one was asked or expected to compromise in the least the peculiar tenets of the denomination to which he belonged; but, instead of spending our time in fierce polemics over disputed points, we found common ground upon which we could stand shoulder to shoulder and labor for the cause of our common Master. Bound together by the sacred ties of a common faith in Jesus, a common hope of an inheritance beyond the skies, and a common desire to bring our brave men to Christ and to do all within our power to promote their spiritual interests, we mingled together in freest intercourse, took sweet counsel together, preached and prayed and labored together, and formed ties of friendship—nay, of brotherhood—which time can never sever, and which, we firmly believe, eternity will only purify and strengthen. It was our custom, when men professed faith in Christ, to take their names and ask what Church they desired to join, and, if there was no minister present of that denomination, we would promptly send for one.  Some of my most cherished war mementos are notes from Rev. Dr. T. D. Witherspoon (then chaplain of the Forty-second Mississippi Regiment, now pastor of one of the Presbyterian Churches in Louisville, and one of the noblest Christian gentlemen I ever knew) and Rev. W. S. Lacy (of the Twenty-seventh North Carolina, one of the truest and most efficient of the many noble workers whom our Presbyterian brethren sent to the army), and a number of others of my Pedobaptist brethren, asking me to come and baptize men who had professed conversion in their meetings and wanted to unite with the Baptists. And I did not hesitate to reciprocate the courtesy, when men of my command wanted to unite with other denominations on a profession of ‘repentance towards God and faith towards the Lord Jesus Christ.’ I remember that my good Brother Witherspoon told me, one day, that he had ‘a good joke on Brother Jones,’ which was to the following effect: I had gone over to Davis's Mississippi Brigade, at Brother Witherspoon's invitation, and had cut the ice on a mill-pond, at Madison Run Station, Orange county, Virginia, and baptized a number of men. In the service I had read, without note or comment, some of the passages of Scripture bearing on the ordinance. The next day, one of the men, who had been active in the revival meetings, went to Chaplain Witherspoon and said: ‘I do not think that you ought to invite Brother Jones to come over here any more.’ ‘Why not? What has Brother Jones done that is wrong?’ ‘Well, you know that, while there is no law or rule on the subject, it is generally understood that, inasmuch as we have all of the evangelical denominations represented in our brigades, no man ought to present his own peculiar doctrines.’ ‘Yes,’ said the chaplain, ‘that is true; but Brother Jones has in no way violated this tacit agreement. He has not preached his peculiar doctrines.’ ‘Well, no; he has not exactly preached them,’ was the reply; ‘but then he read to the crowd all of them Baptist Scriptures.’ Of course, my good Brother Witherspoon replied: ‘Why, I do not admit that those are “Baptist Scriptures.” ’ Rev. W. S. Lacy, in a series of admirable papers on the ‘Religious Interest in Lee's Army,’ written in the New York Watchman soon after the war (a series of such rare merit, that I have urged him to put them into more permanent form), tells a joke which his Methodist Brother Webb, chaplain in the same  brigade, got off on him. It so happened that Brother Lacy's regiment came from a strong Baptist community, and that a large proportion of the converts insisted upon ‘going down into the water,’ and he never failed to send for me or some other Baptist chaplain, and to show every Christian courtesy in the premises. He would go with us to the water's edge, join heartily in the service of song, and be the first one to greet the young converts as they ‘came up out of the water.’ And so Brother Webb said to him: ‘Brother Lacy, you remind me of a hen setting on duck eggs. She carefully nurses the eggs until the little ducks appear, and diligently watches over and cares for them. But some day she goes near the water and the whole brood of little ducks plunge in, while she has to stand clucking on the bank.’ ‘Yes,’ said Brother Lacy, ‘I cannot follow them in; but I go with them to the water's edge, I receive them with open arms when they come out, and I am ever ready to hail them as my spiritual children, and to do all in my power to help them serve our common Master and reach the home of our common Father above.’ And when we Baptist chaplains were called on to assist young converts of our charges to unite with other denominations, I trust we were not wanting in like Christian spirit and courtesy. This cordial co-operation of the chaplains and missionaries of the different evangelical denominations had the very happiest effect on our work. And I am glad to believe that the fraternal spirit which has so largely prevailed for some years among evangelical Christians at the South is in no small degree due to the habit of co-operation which so generally prevailed during the war. I was sent once to stop the firing of one of our own batteries, which was, by mistake, firing into our own men; and I shall never forget the eagerness with which I put spurs to my horse and galloped across the field, crying at the top of my voice, as I waved a white handkerchief: ‘Cease firing! Cease firing! You are firing into your friends!’ And so I never see bitter controversies between evangelical Christians that I do not feel like crying with all of my feeble powers: ‘Cease firing into the ranks of your brethren, and trail your guns on the mighty hosts of the enemies of our common Lord.’ This spirit of fraternity and co-operation was largely promoted by the organization of the Chaplains' Associations of the Second  and Third Corps, and the intercourse between the chaplains thus brought about. It was my privilege to know personally nearly all of the chaplains of that army, and I do not hesitate to say that, while there were in the number a few who were utterly worthless, I never knew a more zealous, laborious, self-sacrificing corps of Christian ministers than most of these chaplains were. Rev. Dr. J. C. Stiles, of the Presbyterian Church, who, though seventy years old, gave himself to ‘the work of an evangelist’ in the army with an ability and zeal which younger men might well have imitated, thus speaks of the work of the faithful chaplain as it came under his observation: These men not only give themselves laboriously to ordinary duties of the Christian ministry in their peculiar position, but their earnest love of Christ and the soldiers' life prompts them to a course of extraordinary self-denying service, admirably adapted to revive and extend the interest of the Christian Church in the army. ‘They form Camp Churches of all the Christians of every denomination in their regiments. The members are expected to practise all the duties of brotherly love, Christian watchfulness and Christian discipline. Indeed, they are taught to feel themselves under every obligation of strict membership. The chaplain writes to every minister or Church with which the member may have been connected, or the young convert desires to be united, and giving the name of the person, solicits the prayers of the said Church, both for the individual and the whole Camp Church, and by correspondence keeps them apprised of the history of the party. These chaplains keep a minute record, not only of the names of the whole regiment, but of all that may assist them either to save the sinner or sanctify the believer. Some of them have ten or twelve columns opposite the names of different companies of the regiment, so headed as to supply all that personal knowledge of the party which might be serviceable in promoting their spiritual welfare. These columns they fill up gradually with such intelligence as they may be able to obtain in their pastoral visitations—when sick, wounded or slain; when awakened, convicted, converted—all important information is conveyed by the chaplain to the family and the Church. These things must necessarily follow—the work of the faithful chaplain is most laborious; he is held in the very highest and  warmest estimation by every man in the regiment—saint and sinner. He possesses a power to sanctify and save them which nothing but earnest and hard-working devotion could finally secure.’ Rev. Dr. George B. Taylor, who served so faithfully as chaplain of the Twenty-fifth Virginia Regiment, and afterwards as post chaplain in Staunton, and whose useful labors in these positions were but the prophecy of his subsequent success as missionary to Rome, Italy, wrote a letter on the chaplaincy so just and discriminating that I give it in full, as follows:
 I heartily endorse the views expressed above by Dr. Taylor, and I desire to testify especially that the officers of the army generally were disposed to extend to the faithful chaplain every courtesy, and to give him every facility for the prosecution of his work. Certainly, I received nothing but kindness from the officers with whom I came in contact. As showing my appreciation at the time of the office of chaplain, and the men fitted for it, I append a card which I published in the Religious Herald.
Our Chaplains' Association was organized in March, 1863, at old ‘Round Oak’ church, in Caroline county, and our first care was to seek to increase the numbers and efficiency of the chaplains in the corps. A report of this first meeting, which I wrote for the Religious Herald at the time, will give the facts more accurately than I could now recall them:
The address and the efforts put forth were very effective, and the number of chaplains and missionaries was greatly increased, and the estimate put upon the value of the services of a faithful missionary was greatly enhanced, until even the most irreligious officers of the army were anxious to have the services of the faithful chaplain or missionary.  Dr. Leyburn gives the following from the letter of a distinguished gentleman: ‘There is a marked and perceptible difference between the morale of a regiment furnished with a good chaplain and one which has none. The men are more orderly, better contented, and really more efficient. Now and then I meet with an officer who appreciates all this, and even some irreligious colonels seek the co-operation of a good chaplain in their desire to render their regiments as efficient as possible.’ The denominations generally appointed some of their best men to enter the army as missionaries, and supplemented the scant salaries of the chaplains. It was reported in 1864 that ‘The Old School Presbyterians employed, the past Assembly-year , 130 missionaries and chaplains in our different armies; and contributions to that work fell little short of $80,000. These laborers reported, at the General Assembly, in its meeting at Charlotte, the conversion of 12,000 soldiers during the year.’ But the work of the chaplains and missionaries will further appear as our narrative proceeds, and it will be seen that we had an earnest, zealous, and faithful corps of laborers.