Chapter 8: eagerness of the soldiers to hear the Gospel.
But, in pointing out the instrumentalities which God blessed to the spiritual good of our brave men, their own eagerness to hear the Gospel
must not be overlooked.
Indeed I believe that the desire of these men to listen to the Gospel and to receive religious instruction has never been surpassed.
Let us visit some of these camps, and mingle in some of these scenes of worship, and if I shall be able to picture them as I saw them, I can give a far more vivid idea of them than by the recital of the detailed facts and figures.
It matters not what day in the week it may be, or what hour of the day, you have only to pass the word around that there will be preaching at such a point, and there will promptly assemble a large crowd of eager listeners.
No appointment for weeks, or days, or hours ahead is necessary.
No church-bell summons, to gorgeous houses of worship, elegant ladies or fashionably attired men. But a few taps of the drum, a few strains of the bugle, or, better still, the singing of some old, familiar hymn, serves as a ‘church call’ well understood, and from every part of the camp weather-beaten soldiers, in faded and tattered uniforms, hasten to the selected spot and gather close around the preacher, who, with ‘Nature's great temple’ for his church, and the blue canopy of heaven for his ‘sounding board,’ is fortunate if he have so much as a barrel or wellrounded stump for a pulpit.
But I proposed to take you, kind reader, to some of our meetings.
Let us first visit the battered old town of Fredericksburg
in the early weeks of 1863.
We enter at sundown, just as the regiments of Barksdale
's Brigade of heroic Missisippians are returning to their quarters from ‘dress parade,’ and we pause to gaze with admiration on the men who, on that bleak December morning, held the town with such tenacity against Burnside
's mighty hosts until ‘Marse Robert’ had formed on the hills beyond