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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 [265] to the Christian professors of the regiment. The services were conducted by Rev. Captain Miller, aided by several other clergymen. The thought that it would probably be the last time in which some would participate in the ordinance, and that before another opportunity occurred they might be on the field of battle, affected every mind, and gave great tenderness to the meeting.’

‘I have spent,’ says Rev. W. J. W. Crowder,

most of the time for several weeks among the soldiers, to whom I gave about 200,000 pages of tracts, and had conversations on personal religion with over 2,300 in their camps and hospitals. I find many of them pious, daily reading the Bible and praying to God. But by far the largest portion of them are irreligious. In three companies, of about three hundred men, only seven were professors of religion, and there were but few Bibles and Testaments among them. A lady requested me to give for her all I had of the excellent tract, “Come to Jesus,” $10.76 worth; a copy of which I gave to a soldier one Sunday morning, on which I marked the Ninety-first Psalm. The Sunday following, he wished me to sit with him in his tent. He stated that the tract caused him to get his Bible and read the psalm. On opening to it he was surprised to find a piece of paper pinned to this psalm, upon which was written in a beautiful hand, by his sister Emma, these lines:

When from home receding,
And from hearts that ache to bleeding,
Think of those behind who love thee;
Think how long the night will be
To the eyes that weep for thee.
God bless thee and keep thee.

The melting tenderness before God in that tent cannot be expressed. Some of his mates were religious and ready to encourage him in seeking salvation.

The same useful man says that when he handed his tracts to the soldiers they would say: ‘This is the kind of reading we want, to help us fulfil the promises we made to our wives, parents, sisters, ministers, and loved ones on leaving home, that we would seek God to be our guide and refuge.’

‘Such expressions,’ he says, ‘I have frequently heard from a great many of the more than 7,000 soldiers with whom I have talked on personal religion.’

A prominent officer came to Mr. C——, and said: ‘I feel it my duty to say that the good influence exerted upon the minds and actions of our men by the Bibles, books and tracts you have [266] sent us, is incalculable; and, to my knowledge, they have been blessed of God in producing a spirit of religious inquiry with many of a most encouraging character. I trust you and Christian friends at home will continue to supply all our soldiers with this means of grace, which is so well adapted to our spiritual wants, and can be diffused among us as perhaps no other can so effectually.’

‘A soldier,’ he says, ‘came to express his thanks for the saving influence of the tracts he had received since being in camp. He believes they were sent to him in answer to a pious mother's prayers. He stated that before leaving home he felt but little interest in religion, but now it is his delight and comfort.’

‘Another soldier, in a Mississippi regiment, writes that the tract, “Come to Jesus,” has been the means of leading him to Christ, since being in Virginia.’

‘Many persons,’ says a writer from the Nineteenth Virginia Regiment, ‘having relatives and friends in the army, are concerned about the religious privileges which we enjoy. A brief sketch of this feature of camp-life in the Nineteenth Regiment will doubtless be gratifying to them. Every night the voice of prayer and praise is heard in one or more of the tents, and on the Sabbath mornings and evenings, and on Wednesday nights, sermons are preached in a church in the immediate vicinity of the camp by the chaplain, the Rev. P. Slaughter, assisted by the Rev. Mr. Griffin. The interest of these services was much enhanced on last Sunday by the celebration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, and by the admission of three officers to their first communion. Many hearty prayers were offered that they may manfully fight under the banner of the Cross, and continue Christ's faithful soldiers until their lives end. It is encouraging to see the disposition of those in command to furnish facilities for public worship, and the alacrity of the men in responding to every call, marching to church sometimes in double-quick time, lest they should fail to get seats. Let those who remain in their pleasant homes remember the soldier on the tented field. He needs the grace of God to enable him to bear patiently the toils and sufferings of the campaign, even more than to face the enemy in the field.’

Good tidings came from many other portions of the army. Scenes like the following became more frequent every week: [267]

‘For more than a week a revival has been in progress among the soldiers stationed at Ashland. Services are held every night in the Baptist church, and the seats set apart for the anxious are frequently wellnigh filled by the soldiers, who are asking for the prayers of God's people. Rev. W. E. Hatcher, of Manchester, preaches every night. At Aquia creek thirty have professed conversion within a few weeks, a number of whom were baptized in the Potomac by Rev. Geo. F. Bagby, a chaplain. The entire regiment with which the converts were connected turned out to witness the ceremony. Our informant says he has never looked upon a more lovely and impressive scene. We understand that a protracted meeting is in progress in Colonel Cary's regiment, and that Rev. Andrew Broaddus, of Caroline, is officiating. We hear of another revival in which twelve soldiers professed conversion, five of whom united with the Methodists, four with the Baptists, and the remainder with the Presbyterians. The religious community of the Confederate States ought to feel encouraged by these tokens of the Divine power to put forth still greater efforts in behalf of the spiritual welfare of our army. Fully one-third of the soldiers are destitute of a copy of the New Testament, and of all other religious reading.’

From Fairfax Court House, Rev. J. M. Carlisle wrote, to a religious paper at Richmond:

‘As chaplain of the Seventh Regiment, South Carolina Volunteers, I desire to return thanks to certain unknown parties, in your city, for a donation of religious books and tracts forwarded to me for distribution among the soldiers. They were gladly received, and are being generally read, and I trust will be a positive good. May the blessing of God be upon those whose gift they are.’

But there came, soon after the first battle of Manassas, and during the long inactivity which followed it, a period of demoralization which was unequalled by any witnessed during the war. Our people generally thought that this great victory had virtually ended the war—that before the spring England and France would recognize the Confederacy, and the North be forced to acknowledge our independence. Many people at home quit praying and went to speculating in the necessaries of life, coining money out of the sufferings of soldiers and people, and the demoralization soon extended to the army. The vices common to most armies ran riot through our camps. Drunkenness became so common [268] as to scarcely excite remark, and many who were temperate, and some who were even total abstinence leaders at home, fell into the delusion that drinking was excusable, if not necessary, in the army.

The drunken brawls of even high officers were the common talk around the camp-fires, and the men of the rank and file claimed the privilege of imitating their leaders.

In a debate in the Confederate Senate on the proposition to cashier every officer found to be drunk, either on or off duty, Hon. Wm. L. Yancey, of Alabama, said: That, from his observation, he had come to the conclusion that drunkenness was not only the vice of the army, but of the county. Drinking from 12 M. to 12 midnight was habitual, and among those who called themselves gentlemen the vice was extensive. Ours is a popular army, and if we find drunkenness in it, nothing more can be expected when the vice is so extensive among the people. Abroad, he had read the unvarnished statement of a Richmond paper, which brought the blush of shame to the friends of the country. He doubted its truth, but after travelling the length of the country he was convinced of its truth, and had arrived at the conclusion that drunkenness was the vice of the country.

An army surgeon, writing to the Richmond Dispatch respecting the prevalence of drunkenness in the army, says: ‘I was greatly astonished to find soldiers in Virginia, whom I had known in Georgia as sober, discreet citizens, members of different Churches, some deacons and official members, even preachers, in the daily and constant habit of drinking whiskey for their health.’

The chaplain of the Twenty-third North Carolina Regiment writes from the camp between Union Mills and Centreville to the Biblical Recorder: . . . ‘If we ever meet with a defeat in this army, it will be in consequence of drunkenness. Young men that never drank at home are using spirits freely in camp. I fear that while Lincoln may slay his thousands, the liquor-maker at home will slay his tens of thousands.’

A Southern editor wrote, on this subject: ‘The prevalence of vice, of drunkenness and profanity in our camps on the Potomac and elsewhere is attributable to the officers themselves. A large number of the officers of our Southern army are both profane and hard drinkers, where they are not drunkards. It has been prophesied that the South will lose the next battle on the [269] Potomac, and lose it by drunken officers. We are satisfied that God alone can prevent it. If the battle soon to transpire near Manassas is lost, we shall be satisfied that whiskey whipped our men.’

Another correspondent writes from Centreville to the Central Presbyterian: ‘There is an appalling amount of drunkenness in our army. Not, I believe, so much among the common soldiers as with the officers, high as well as low. Too many of our generals, and colonels, and majors, and captains, lieutenants and surgeons (I am tempted to say especially the surgeons) are notorious drunkards. During the bad weather of winter, the army lying idle, the temptation to excessive drink is a hundredfold greater than in the summer months.’

Another correspondent writes of the condition of things at this period:

A general officer fell from his horse while reviewing his troops, and lay drunk in his quarters for weeks, without losing his command. “ I speak that which I do know, and testify to that whereof I have seen,” in reference to this matter; for many a weary hour did I pace the sentinel's beat in front of those headquarters, my only orders being “to prevent any one from disturbing the general” —i. e., in his drunken slumbers.

I remember one night, about 2 o'clock, I was impatiently pacing my beat with a feeling of profound disgust that my bright anticipations of “the pomp and circumstance of glorious war” had degenerated into the mean avocation of guarding a drunken general, when there came along a huge six-footer, belonging to an artillery company, who had aboard enough “apple-jack” to make him merry. When he drew near he yelled out an invitation to the general to come out and take a drink with him. I rushed up, musket in hand, commanded him to be silent, and threatened to call the sergeant of the guard and send him to the guard-house, if he repeated the offence. He proceeded to argue the case with me, saying that he had in his canteen some of the best “apple-jack” that had ever been produced, and that I knew, as well as he did, that if “General——” ever got a taste of that, he would not allow the man that brought it to be molested. Seeing that I was inexorable, he sadly said: “Now, sentinel, I leave it to you if this is not a hard case. A brigadier-general, with all his high responsibilities, gets drunk on duty, falls off his horse, and lies drunk in his quarters with a sentinel to keep [270] anybody from disturbing him; but, if a poor private gets a drop too much, you talk about sending him to the guard-house. Is this fair? Is it justice? Is it in accord with the great principles of constitutional freedom, for which we are fighting?”

I told him that I could not answer his argument—that, in fact, I fully agreed with him—but that, inasmuch as I would be sent to the guard-house if I did not obey my instructions, I hoped he would see that I must enforce order, and would go peaceably to his quarters. He finally went, but muttering as he went: “I certainly would like to have an opportunity of giving old——a swig at my canteen, for I think he would promote me to a place on his staff after he found out what nectar I can bring in after a forage.”

At this period the ear was greeted on all sides with the most horrid profanity, and ‘the army in Flanders’ could surely not have beaten the army at Manassas in this senseless vice.

Gambling became so common, so open, and so unrebuked, that men wearing ‘the bars,’ and even ‘the stars,’ of rank would win from the private soldier his scant pay, which he ought to have sent home to his suffering family.

I remember that some men in one of the companies of my own regiment captured at the battle of Manassas a regular ‘faro bank’ with all its appurtenances, and not long after opened it in one of the tents. It had been doing for some time a thriving business, attracting officers and men from all of the surrounding commands, when one day Colonel A. P. Hill sent for the officer of the guard, and ordered him to take a file of men, surround the tent, capture ‘the bank,’ and arrest and bring before him all of the players. I happened to be on the detail, and it fell to my lot to stand at the door of the tent and arrest all who attempted to escape. The first man who tried to pass me was a prominent politician, who was known also to be ‘fond of a little game,’ and was said to be remarkably successful in ‘fighting the tiger,’ and who, being in camp on a visit to his son, could not resist the temptation of ‘taking a hand.’ It was reported that he was at the moment of our raid a large winner, and insisted that the officer of the guard should wait until the dealer could ‘cash his chips,’ but this being refused he hustled up to the door and started to pass out, saying: ‘I am a citizen, sir, and a member of the Legislature. You have no right to molest me.’

‘I cannot help what your position is, sir,’ I replied, ‘but [271] more's the pity if you are violating the law against gambling which you helped to make, or at least are sworn to support. My orders are imperative, and you cannot pass.’

‘I will do so, sir; you have no right to arrest a citizen,’ he retorted, as he attempted to push by me.

But when I brought my gun to a “charge bayonets,” and threatened to put my bayonet in him if he attempted to ‘force the guard,’ he desisted with loud protests and imprecations, and we marched the whole party up to Colonel Hill's quarters, the Hon. Mr. Law-maker (and law-breaker) heading the column.

Oh! for one day of A. P. Hill—the chivalrous soldier who always did his duty—in our towns and cities now, that he might close the vile gambling dens which our city authorities can never find, but which (unless they are shamefully slandered) some of our law-makers (and law-breakers) do find, to their shame and ruin.

At this period the sanctity of the Sabbath was recognized by but few—many professed Christians made shipwreck of their faith and became ringleaders in every species of vice—and wickedness of every description held high carnival in our camps.

Comparatively little was done to counteract these evil influences. There were at this time but few chaplains in the army, and it must be confessed that some of these were utterly worthless, and that but few of them appreciated the importance or the fruitfulness of the field if properly cultivated. There were exceptions to this, and here and there faithful labors were crowned with some measure of success. But the general moral picture of the army during the autumn of 1861, and the winter of 1861– 62, was dark indeed.

A faithful chaplain thus put it, in a letter to the Religious Herald:

But, O! brethren, the great trial of being in the army is not its hard bread, its weary marches, its cheerless bivouacs, or even its absence from the loved ones at home. It is the having to see and hear, all the time, such abounding wickedness. One constantly has his blood curdled by oaths you can't conceive, or hears foul language that makes him blush for his common humanity. Often, though not so ‘righteous’ as Lot, like Lot, he has his “soul vexed” at the wickedness of those around him, and like the patriarch cries, “O that I had wings like a dove, that I [272] might fly away and be at rest.” He learns to feel that the sweetest element of that “rest” which “remaineth for the people of God,” next to freedom from personal sin, is the being where “the wicked cease from troubling.” He realizes the necessity, for the happiness of the good, that “the wicked shall be driven away in his wickedness;” he feels that sin itself, in its last results, will itself be a hell.

Do not think I exaggerate the sin of the army, or intimate that there are not many men there who are good, aye, better for being there. But in the army many wicked men are massed together, and many of the restraints to sin—such as the family, the society of children and females, the Sunday-school and Church— are largely removed, so that the sin which was in the heart before, which is in the hearts of those at home, is simply developed. If the world is the theatre where God is showing the universe what sin is, war is one of the scenes where the illustration is most perfect. It is frequently said that the war will end when the nation is better, as if the ungodly were at least to be partially purified and raised to a higher moral status. Is not this a false view? Do not the bad ever (i. e., while impenitent) “wax worse and worse?” Is there any way for any society to improve but for men to be converted and for Christians to “grow in grace? ” Outside of this, is not the morality of society getting worse? This war is like any affliction, in that it makes those who suffer from it better or worse. This is realized with reference to the soldier, but I fear not with reference to the loved ones at home, and by them. They are sufferers, too. Are they thinking more of the war's ending, or of being made better by it? God help the man or woman who comes out of it no better! God have mercy on him who turns God's very rod into a lever by which to improve his earthly condition and pamper his lusts. Ah! I have seen some hardened by this war, and I fear God will say of them: “I tried to make them better, and they transmuted my very discipline into a means of indulgence. They have their choice. I will ‘let them alone.’” O reader! is the war making you better?


The Confederate disasters of the early part of 1862 brought our people once more to their knees, and the active campaign which followed very decidedly improved the religious tone of the army. As men stood amid the leaden and iron hail of battle, [273] saw comrades fall thick and fast around them, and were made to feel, ‘There is but a step between me and death,’ they were brought to serious reflection and solemn resolve. Earnest men and noble women were untiring in the hospitals in pointing the sick and wounded to the Great Physician, and God richly blessed their efforts.

Some of the more incompetent chaplains were sloughed off when they found that there was real work to be done and hardship and danger to be met. Some noble, self-sacrificing workers were added to our number, and all were stirred up to their duty by the solemn scenes in which they were called to minister.

We had some precious seasons of worship from the day that old ‘Stonewall’ electrified the Confederacy with his famous dispatch: ‘God blessed our arms with victory at McDowell;’ all through the Valley campaign; Seven Days around Richmond; Cedar Run; Second Manassas, and The first Maryland campaign; and there were a number of professions of conversion, while backsliders were reclaimed and careless professors awakened to their duty.

But when we came back from Sharpsburg to rest for a season amid the green fields and beautiful groves, and beside the clear streams of the lower Valley of Virginia, there began that series of revivals which went graciously and gloriously on until there had been over fifteen thousand professions of conversion in Lee's Army, and there had been wrought a moral and religious revolution which those who did not witness it can scarcely appreciate.

A South Carolina chaplain writes, from camp near Richmond, to the Southern Presbyterian: ‘I am both astonished and I trust grateful to see how attentively officers and men listen to the preached word, and how eagerly they read the tracts which I have been able to supply. It would gladden the heart of many a pious friend at home if they could be permitted to listen to the chorus of manly voices which blend in singing the sweet songs of Zion amid the green trees of our bivouac. The tone of morality is much higher than I dared to hope.’

The Richmond Christian Advocate speaks hopefully of the state of religion in the army and the country. Of the former it says that numbers, including several prominent officers, are reported both from hospitals and camps as brought from death unto life. [274] It believes that religion among the people generally is increasing.

A correspondent of the Christian Observer says: ‘It is a common opinion that our young men in the army are very wicked, but, judging from what I have seen in various camps, the charge is utterly unfounded. It would seem that their privations and sufferings have been greatly sanctified to them; and no doubt much is due to the labor of chaplains and colporters.’

A writer to the Southern Presbyterian, from the camp of the Sixth Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers, near Richmond, says: ‘I am happy to report to you the manifest tokens of the presence of the Spirit among us, even in these times of strife and battle. I do believe that these solemn visitations of Providence have been His chosen way of touching many a heart. There are earnest desires awakened in many a bosom, which I trust will lead them to the Cross. I believe there are many of our brave men lying on their hard pallets in the hospitals who are now secretly indulging a hope in Jesus; and I console myself with the sweet thought that others, who have never told it, have died on the battle-field looking to their Saviour. I know there are dreadful exhibitions of deliberate wickedness, but Satan ever delights in placing his abominations in the porch of God's temple.’

Another writer, from Richmond, in the Southern Presbyterian, gives the following thrilling account of his experience in the recent battles near this city: ‘In the battle of the Seven Pines, in which we lost one-third of our regiment in about twenty minutes amid the most terrific shower of shot and shell of this whole war, the Lord not only so far sustained me as to enable me to stand up and do my duty to my country, but to do it without the least fear of anything that man could do unto me. Nor did I, as many men seem to do, lose sight of my personal danger. My mood was so calm that my calculations were perfectly rational. I felt that the Lord's hand was with me; that His shield was over me, and that whatever befell me would be by His agency or permission, and therefore it would all be well with me. It was a period of positive religious enjoyment, and yet of the most vigorous discharge of my duties as a soldier. Again, at the battle of Gaines's Mill, or Cold Harbor, on Friday, June 27, the most furious of the whole series, and in which one-third of our regiment was reported as killed and wounded, I was visited with the [275] same peace of mind and the same resolute composure. The two battles leave me with nine perforations in my clothing, made by at least six balls; a slight contusion from a piece of bomb, and a severe wound in my left thigh, a large ball passing clear through, ranging between the bone and the femoral artery. Upon receiving it, I looked down and discovered the hemorrhage to be very copious. I was not only not afraid to die, but death seemed to me a welcome messenger. Immediately there came over my soul such a burst of the glories of heaven, such a foretaste of its joys, as I have never before experienced. It was rapturous and ecstatic beyond expression. The New Jerusalem seemed to rise up before me in all its beauty and attractiveness. I could almost hear the songs of the angels. My all-absorbing thought, however, was about my Redeemer, whose arms were stretched out to receive me. So completely overwhelming and exclusive was the thought of heaven, that I was wholly unconscious of any tie that bound me to earth. I was still standing within a few steps of where I was wounded, and yet I utterly forgot my danger and thought of no means of preserving my life. There I stood in the midst of men, and where deadly missiles were flying thick and fast, and yet my thoughts were completely abstracted from everything around me. So fully was God's love shed abroad in my heart, and so delightful was the contemplation of the offices of the blessed Saviour, that I could think of nothing else. Now, how gracious it was in the Lord thus to grant me an experience which has made me thank Him a thousand times since for what has befallen me! I will not call it an affliction, nor even a “blessing in disguise,” but the most clear, open, manifest blessing I have ever enjoyed. The intent, no doubt, was to let me know where my heart lay, and by unveiling the reward that awaits the faithful to stimulate me to renewed and ever-increasing obedience. The Lord has permitted me to live, and I bless Him for it. I bless Him for anything, everything, He may choose to allot me. Our enthusiasm about earthly objects must, of course, be far less intense than when heaven, with all its glories and beatitudes, is the subject of our contemplation.’

A few days since, a chaplain at Gordonsville said to Brother J. C. Clopton: ‘One hundred of the men in my regiment have professed conversion since we have been in the service, and the greater number spoke of your tracts as having been instrumental in leading them to Christ.’ Rev. W. L. Fitcher, our colporter in [276] Petersburg, writes that over 300 have professed conversion in the hospitals of that city. A revival of religion is in progress in Lynchburg, and twenty were received into the Baptist Church of that city on Friday evening, on profession of faith in Christ. A pious man writes to us: ‘God is in the army. Many in my regiment have passed from death unto life.’ These things being so, should not Christians at home be encouraged to redouble their efforts in this direction! Our fathers never enjoyed such facilities for doing good as are now presented us in the camps and hospitals, nor will those who come after, for centuries, see such an inviting field.—A. E. D.

The following, dated Richmond, August 1O, 1862, is from the pen of ‘Personal,’ army correspondent of the Charleston Courier:

Probably at no period of the war has the religious element in the army been more predominant than it is at present. In many instances, chaplains, army missionaries, colporters and tracts have accomplished great things; but by far the most cogent influences that have operated upon and subdued the reckless spirit of the soldiery, are those which are born in the heart itself, upon the field of battle. There is something irresistible in the appeal which the Almighty makes when he strikes from your side, in the twinkling of an eye, your friend and comrade, and few natures are so utterly depraved as to entirely disregard the whisperings of the ‘still, small voice,’ which themselves so vividly heard at such a moment. Every man unconsciously asks himself, “Whose turn will come next?” and when, at the termination of the conflict, he finds himself exempted from the awful fiat that has brought death to his very side and all around him, his gratitude to his Creator is alloyed, though it may be but dimly, with a holier emotion, which, for the time, renders him a wiser and a better man. In this aspect, the recent battles have done more to make converts than all the homilies and exhortations ever uttered from the pulpit. A man who has stood upon the threshold of eternity while in the din and carnage of the fight, has listened to eloquence more fiery and impressive than ever came from mortal lips.

It is not strange, therefore, as you go through various camps, even on a week day, that your ears are here and there saluted with the melody of a choir of voices, rich, round and full, sung with all the seriousness and earnestness of true devotion; or, [277] that, before the lights are out in the evening, manly tones are heard in thanksgiving for the blessings of the day; or, that the Bible and prayer-book are common books upon the mess-table; or, that when Sunday comes, the little stand from which the chaplain is wont to discourse, is the centre of a cluster of interested and pious listeners.

In many of the regiments much of this kindly influence is due to the pure and elevated character of the officers. Wherever these are found, you invariably also find a neat, welldisci-plined, orderly, quiet command, as prompt in the camp as they are brave upon the field. Now and then you may hear a taunt about “our praying captain,” or “colonel;” but even these thoughtless expressions come from men who venerate their officers and would follow them to the death. As you know, some of our ablest generals are men who have dropped the gown of the Christian for the apparel of the soldier. Polk was a bishop, Pendleton a clergyman, D. H. Hill a religious author, Jackson a dignitary of the Church, while scores of others occupying subordinate positions, are equally well known for their devotion at the shrine of Christianity. All of these gentlemen have been eminently successful in whatever they have undertaken, have passed unharmed through the dangers by which they have been frequently environed, and are living illustrations of the truth that a fighting Christian is as terrible to his enemies as he is gentle to his friends.

General Jackson never enters a fight without first invoking God's blessing and protection. The dependence of this strange man upon the Deity seems never to be absent from his mind, and whatever he does or says, it is always prefaced, “by God's blessing.” In one of his official dispatches, he commences— “By God's blessing we have to-day defeated the enemy.” Said one of his officers to him the other day— “Well, general, another candidate (referring to Pope) is waiting your attentions.” “So I observe,” was the quiet reply; “and by God's blessing he shall receive them to his full satisfaction.”

After a battle has been fought, the same rigid remembrance of Divine Power is observed. The army is drawn up in line, the general dismounts from his horse, and there in the presence of his rough, bronzed-face troops, with heads uncovered and bent awe-stricken to the ground, the voice of the good man, which but a few hours before was ringing out in quick and fiery intonations, [278] is now heard, subdued and calm, as if overcome by the presence of the Supreme Being, in holy appeal to “the sapphire throne.” Few such spectacles have been witnessed in modern times, and it is needless to add that few such examples have ever told with more wondrous power upon the hearts of men. Are you surprised, after this recital, that “StonewallJackson is invincible, and that he can lead his army to certain victory whenever God's blessing precedes the act?

Rev. G. T. Gray, chaplain of a regiment stationed in western Virginia, writes to the Bristol Advocate that, several Sabbaths since, ‘the sacrament was administered to all the field officers and staff except one, and to eight captains, and to upwards of one hundred other officers and privates. I doubt,’ he adds, ‘if the annals of war ever witnessed such another solemn scene.’

Lynchburg, August 21, 1862.
Messrs. Editors: For two weeks meetings have been held in the Baptist church here, and many indications of the Divine presence and blessing have been enjoyed. Thus far seven have been received into the Church. Rev. J. L. Johnson is one of the chaplains at this post, and is laboring with great zeal and efficiency. Brother G. C. Trevillian has been for some months our regular colporter to the hospitals here. There are at least 4,000 sick and wounded, and a few weeks may bring as many more, as this is one of the principal points to which the wounded of the great army near Gordonsville are brought.

At Lovingston, in Nelson, the government is establishing hospitals; there are now about a thousand at that point. At Scottsville are several hundred sick and wounded, and about as many at Hillsborough, in Albemarle. I would like to have several additional tract distributers at these several points.

Rev. J. C. Hiden, chaplain at Charlottesville, gave me some interesting facts in reference to the hospitals in that town. He represents the men as being very eager to hear the Gospel and to secure religious reading-matter.

In Staunton, I found Brother Fry, our colporter, earnestly engaged. His labors have, indeed, been greatly blessed here and elsewhere. He gave me an interesting account of some conversations he had with General T. J. Jackson. On one occasion the general told him of several prominent officers who were sick, and urged him to go and converse with them on personal [279] religion just as he would with the humblest private, adding that it was “sad to see so many officers regardless of their eternal interests.” . . .

A. E. D.

The chaplain of the Ninth Georgia Regiment, in a letter from Richmond, July 8, to his parents, says: ‘We have a delightful religious revival progressing in our camps—in our regiment especially.’

Rev. A. D. Cohen, chaplain of the Forty-sixth North Carolina Regiment, writes:

. . . At 4 o'clock we had another meeting. Our dear visiting brother preached a very appropriate sermon, very short, but comprehensive. I made a few remarks, and invited all who felt their need of a Saviour to manifest it by kneeling. Now, dear brother, I know that your heart: would have been filled with gratitude, and your eyes would have run rivulets of tears of joy, to have seen so many of our brave and dauntless soldier-boys there, overpowered by the strength of their convictions, humbly and tearfully bowing their knees upon the bare ground, asking for prayer. At night we had a prayer-meeting, which our brother concluded by asking all those who were determined to try to meet him in heaven, to come up and shake his hand; and oh, how my heart burned when men (almost every man) came up with the big tears coursing down their cheeks, and their manly bosoms heaving with sobs of true repentance, I trust, and grasped our hands.

‘And then the sobs were audible as the man of God poured forth his fervent prayers for their conversion and their reunion in heaven. That brother, as well as every one present, will never forget our last Sabbath at that camp.’

Elder J. J. Hyman, army chaplain, in a letter to the Christian Index, gives the following account of religious exercises in his regiment (Forty-ninth Georgia, in ‘StonewallJackson's command) the second week after the battle at Cedar Run:

On the following Monday night, after all became quiet, I opened a meeting, as usual, in one of the companies, to have what we call family prayer before retiring to rest. Seeing so many making their way towards where we were singing, after singing one hymn we called on one brother, and then another, to lead in prayer. We had what might be called an old-fashioned prayermeeting, [280] with about six hundred soldiers present. After several prayers had been offered, for a few moments all was silent. I must say, I never had such feelings before; such crying I never heard—not aloud, but with deep sobbing. The stoutest and hardest hearts were softened—not a word of exhortation was given—all was the effect of singing and prayer. I gave an invitation to anxious ones to come forward for prayer, and probably 300 responded!

After prayer the meeting closed; but still the soldiers remained for some time about the place where God was blessing their souls. The impression that our soldiers are becoming greatly demoralized is false. I will only add, we have had many more such meetings. The night of the 8th inst. will long be remembered by many. I have seen the seeker weep; I have seen the new-born soul rejoice; fifteen have been converted in my company in a short time.

During the spring of 1862 two faithful chaplains, Rev. J. W. Timberlake, of the Second Florida, and Rev. W. H. C. Cone, of the Nineteenth Georgia, died from disease contracted in the service, and two, Rev. Geo. W. Harris, of Upperville, and Rev. Dr. J. C. Granberry (then chaplain of the Eleventh Virginia Regiment), were wounded in the faithful discharge of their duty.

The chaplains, missionaries, colporters and Christian workers generally were stirred up to renewed diligence by the scenes through which they were called on to pass, but, as a wounded soldier put it, ‘God preached to us as all of the preachers on earth could not do.’

The testimony to the blessed fact of God's presence among the soldiers is most abundant. ‘God is in the army,’ wrote a pious man; ‘many in my regiment have passed from death unto life.’ ‘One hundred of my regiment,’ said a chaplain, ‘have professed conversion since we have been in the service.’

Rev. J. M. Stokes, chaplain in Wright's Georgia Brigade, says of the religious condition of the troops:

‘I am happy to state that the health of our troops seems to be much better than it was a few months since. It will be a source of delight to Christians and all thinking people to know that the religious element among our troops is much greater now than at any time previous since the war began. I believe sincerely that there is less profanity in a week now, than there was in a day six months ago. And I am quite sure there are ten who [281] attend religious services now to one who attended six months ago. I speak principally with reference to our own regiment, but I have been informed by those who have travelled among the different parts of the army in Virginia that such is the case everywhere.’

‘Strange as it may appear to some,’ writes an experienced post chaplain, ‘scores of men are converted immediately after great battles. This has become so common that I as confidently look for the arrival of such patients as I do for the wounded. It is not very strange, if we remember that before they went into battle they had been serious and thoughtful. Here God covered their heads, and their preservation was a manifestation of His power and goodness that humbled their souls. “What cause for gratitude to God that I was not cut down when my comrades fell at my side.” “But for God I would have been slain.” “I do not see how I escaped. I know that I am under renewed obligations to love Him, and am resolved to serve Him.” “After the battle at Malvern Hill, I was enabled to give my soul to Christ— this war has made me a believer in religion, sir,” said a wounded soldier. These and other expressions show how God is working out His purposes of grace and wisdom in these times of darkness and distress.’

Among the many thousands of wounded that filled the Richmond hospitals, the work of salvation was deep and general. ‘The Lord is with us at Seabrooks' Hospital,’ wrote Rev. W. R. Gualtney; ‘we have a great revival of religion here. A greater one I scarcely ever witnessed. Rarely a day passes but I find one or more new converts. The number in our hospital is being rapidly reduced, many being transferred to other places, and many having died; but the religious element in our midst is by no means dying out. A large number are yet inquiring, “What must we do to be saved?” Those who have professed a hope in Christ seem to be in the full enjoyment of faith.’

‘I am happy,’ says another minister, ‘to report the manifest tokens of the presence of the Spirit among us, even in these times of strife and battle. I do believe that these solemn visitations of Providence have been His chosen way of touching many a heart. There are earnest desires awakened in many a bosom, which I trust will lead them to the Cross. I believe there are many of our brave men lying on their hard pallets in the hospitals who are now secretly indulging a hope in Jesus.’ [282]

My own experience and observation fully confirm what is said above, and I have some very clear illustrations of the fact that Christ was on the battle-field as well as ‘in the camp,’ and that He manifested His saving power to not a few of our brave boys during that bloody campaign of 1862.

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