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Chapter 9: State of religion in 1861-62.

Having brought out, in previous chapters, the various instrumentalities and influences which were so potential in promoting religious influences in the army, it remains to give a chronological outline of the results upon the men, which have been already indicated, but need to be more distinctly related.

During the first months of the war, the influences of home and church were decidedly felt, and made their impress upon the soldiers at the front. Nearly every community had its weekly union prayer-meeting. The pastors made frequent visits to the camps. Father and mother, and gentle sister, wrote frequent letters to the soldier-boy, breathing a spirit of humble piety, and urging him to read his Bible, observe his hours of secret prayer, and attend regularly such religious services as were within his reach. The army was flooded with religious tracts, newspapers, and books, nearly every regiment had its prayer-meeting, and the large number of Christian officers and men made themselves felt in the moral and religious status of the army. There were, at this period, not a large number of professions of conversion, though a few found Jesus in the camp or in the hospital, and there were a few sad cases of men making shipwreck of their faith; but it may be said that the Christian element fairly held its own and made some advance, and that there was at least as much religious zeal in the camps as among the Churches at home.

I select only a few extracts from newspaper reports, which illustrate the condition of things during the summer and autumn of 186I.

A writer, speaking of the religious services in the Fourth North Carolina Regiment, says:

‘There are four ministers of the Gospel attached to this regiment. Sabbath before last a most solemn service was held at Garysburg. The sacrament of the Lord's Supper was administered ’

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