Ah! I can recall, even after this lapse of twenty-five years, not a few bright faces who used to join in those precious meetings, who were soon after striking golden harps as they joined the celestial choir.
I recollect that we had very large congregations at Winchester
, after Banks
had been driven across the Potomac
, on the call of our Christian leader to the ‘thanksgiving’ service which he was accustomed to appoint after each victory—that we had a very large gathering at Strasburg
, while Ewell
's Division was in line of battle to keep back Fremont
until all of Jackson
's troops could pass the threatened point—and that on that whole campaign I never found the men too weary to assemble promptly for the evening service.
Indeed, we accustomed ourselves to make sermons on the march to preach when we should go into bivouac in the evening, and, while in some respects it was sermonizing under difficulties, I doubt if we ever made better sermons than under the inspiration of the circumstances which surrounded us and the consciousness that we were preparing to deliver the last message of salvation which many of those brave fellows would ever hear.
The morning of the battle of Cross Keys
a large part of Ezley
's Brigade assembled at half-past 7
A. M. to hear a sermon from the efficient chaplain of the Twenty-fifth Virginia Regiment (my honored brother, Dr. George B. Taylor
), who, being satisfied that a battle was imminent, determined to deliver one more message for his Master.
In the midst of his sermon the preacher was interrupted by the colonel of his regiment, who told him that the enemy was advancing and the battle about to open.
Soon the shock of battle succeeded the invitations of the Gospel, and men were summoned from that season of worship into the presence of their Judge
After the battle of Port Republic
, while we were resting in the beautiful valley preparatory to marching to ‘Seven Days around Richmond
,’ we had some delightful meetings, and on the march we had frequent seasons of worship.
I preached in a grove near Louisa Court House, and again at Ashland
, I well remember, to deeply interested congregations, and as I mingled among our wounded at Cold Harbor (where on the 27th of June, 1862, my regiment, the Thirteenth Virginia, carried into action 306 men and lost 175, killed and wounded), I found a number who referred to those meetings and expressed themselves as deeply affected by them.