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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. [224]

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 [225] 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 [226] 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 [227] 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:

The men generally want chaplains, and appreciate them, even if only moderately good and faithful. I believe this is largely true of officers, too, though there are some notable exceptions. A certain brigadier said chaplains were “the scourge of the army.” Some colonels have objected that even faithful ministers, by awakening men's fears of retribution, have unfitted them for battle. And it is quite notorious that some field-officers object to chaplains, who might be a restraint on their drinking and profanity. But, after all, I believe most officers desire chaplains, and wish them to be good, earnest men. Certainly my observation and pleasant experience has been, that from officers, high and low, chaplains receive generally the most courteous and even kind treatment. In short, I believe that a minister in the army, as elsewhere, will find his true status, and in proportion to his soberness, purity and zeal, be loved and respected by those who receive his ministrations. Let none suppose that a chaplain's post is a sinecure. True, he may shirk his duties and not be court-martialed. True, he has some facilities for locomotion and “foraging,” not enjoyed by either officers or men. In fact, I believe his place is the most pleasant as well as the highest in the army. Specially may he, with brother chaplains, with Christians of all Churches, and with cultivated men in the ranks or in office, enjoy Christian intercourse, often more extensive and unreserved than could be in an ordinary pastorate. But, after all, as I said, his post is no sinecure. If he sticks to the men as he ought, he must learn to say, “'Tis home where'er my oil-cloth is,” and may often be seen at dewy eve, selecting a clean place or smooth rail for his bivouac. He, too, must learn to eat once a day, to live on crackers, and may often be seen broiling his fat bacon on the coals, or making rye coffee in a tin-cup. Above all, he must [228] forego domestic joys, and even when a furlough is practicable, forbear to use it, that he may stay at his post and labor for his men. I do not believe public sentiment in the army requires chaplains to “take the sword.” In a battle, the chaplain's place is with his ambulance, and then at the hospitals. But to be thus just in the rear is often to encounter the hottest fire of cannonballs and shells.

The material of his congregation is the best, and his preaching is constantly backed by most solemn providences. Then, as a general thing, except on forced marches, he may preach almost whenever he pleases. He must learn, however, to be “instant out of season.” At ‘Cross Keys’ I felt that a battle was imminent during the day, and preached about half-past 7 o'clock A. M. Soon the distant cannon was heard, and ere I reached “thirdly,” the colonel asked me to close as soon as I could, as he had orders to “fall in.” It was the last message some poor fellows ever heard. Two weeks thereafter we marched nearly all day, and it was not until the setting of the sun that we could gather for praise and prayer.

Last Monday was the hottest and most airless day I ever felt. About 3 P. M. a brother-chaplain said to me, “Go preach for my regiment.” “What! Monday, and such a warm day, too?” “Yes. I will give you a good crowd, and take care of you.” I went. In ten minutes we were gathered. What Richmond pastor has such an advantage? After preaching I was hospitably entertained to supper by the colonel, who kindly asked me to preach for his regiment when I could. En passant, I doubt whether a man is ever truly grateful until he enters the army. Before, he may be thankful in the abstract, but then he learns to be thankful for each hour of slumber, and each individual cracker or cup of water. In conclusion, I think, among the many evils of war, we should not forget such a benefit as this, that it corrects the growing tendency to effeminacy. How desirable, if many of our young preachers in this school shall learn to “endure hardness.” Then they can preach as the pioneers did, and not be concerned what they shall eat, or where they shall sleep; nor need to be coddled by the mothers in Israel, or have eggs and brandy mixed for their throats by the pretty daughters in Israel.

chaplain. camp in Charles city, July 9, 1862.


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.

The men we want.

Messrs. Editors: As my name has been mentioned as one of the ‘committee of correspondence to facilitate the introduction of chaplains into the various regiments of our corps,’ perhaps I ought to say a word with reference to the matter. In private letters to brethren I have said, ‘Send us the names of good men;’ and I here repeat, we want none others—our object being not merely to fill up the regiments with nominal chaplains, but to fill the vacancies with efficient, working men. We want effective Gospel preachers, whose burden shall be Christ and Him crucified. It is a common mistake that anybody will do to preach to soldiers; and hence the chaplaincies are generally filled by young and inexperienced men. But a moment's reflection will suffice to convince, that since we have in the army the flower of the country, so we ought to have the best preachingtalent of the country. I call upon our city and country pastors earnestly to consider whether it is not their duty to enter this wide field of usefulness. It is a field worthy the attention of our most experienced, most useful ministers, and if they cannot get their consent to enter regularly upon it, I call upon them to at least give us occasional visits. We want men who will stick to their posts. I am persuaded that a great deal of harm has been done by chaplains resigning, or absenting themselves for long periods from their commands, on ‘detail to collect clothing,’ or some such pretext. The great business of the chaplain is to preach Christ publicly, and from tent to tent, and the temporal welfare of the soldiers should be made subordinate to this. We want men physically able as well as willing to endure hardships and privations. If a chaplain would live up to the full measure of his usefulness, he must be with his regiment on the weary [230] march (frequently resigning his horse to some foot-sore soldier), lie with them around the bivouac-fire after evening prayers are over; be drenched on the outposts, or face the pelting snowstorm; divide with some hungry soldier his last hard cracker, and, in a word, share with his regiment whatever hardships they may be called on to endure. Now, if a brother is physically unable to endure these hardships, he had best not enter the work, but there is no question that many a delicate brother would have his health permanently improved, if he would thus learn to ‘endure hardness as a good soldier.’

I trust that brethren in sending testimonials will remember these points. And if the committee should feel called on to decline recommending any one, of course they will not be understood as deciding who shall be denied chaplaincies, but simply their own unwillingness to act in the matter. Thus much I felt it due to myself and the cause to say.

J. Wm. Jones, Chaplain Thirteenth Virginia Infantry.

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:

near Hamilton's Crossing, March 19.
Dear Brethren: We had, on last Monday, a meeting of the chaplains of our corps (Jackson's) which proved exceedingly interesting, and resulted, I trust, in much good. It was a meeting for general consultation and prayer, and there were points elicited which I am sure would prove of interest to the readers of the Herald.

General Jackson has taken especial pains to have his command supplied with chaplains, and yet a little over half of the regiments in our corps are still destitute. There are several entire brigades without a single chaplain. This destitution was made a special topic of discussion, and it was resolved that we will make every effort to get chaplains for all of the regiments; and in the meantime, that we will each preach as often as we can to those that are destitute. Rev. Dr. Lacy has been requested by the general to [231] labor as a missionary in the regiments of his corps that are without chaplains, and to recommend ministers of the different denominations to fill the vacancies. Brethren desirous of obtaining chaplaincies for themselves or friends would do well, therefore, to write at once to Dr. Lacy, at General Jackson's Headquarters, or to some one of the chaplains of our corps. And are there not brethren now in the pastorate who might be spared for this most important work? ‘The harvest is plenteous, and the laborers are few.’ I suppose that in the other army corps there is greater destitution than in ours.

Another point discussed was the general efficiency of chaplains. One brother was disposed to coincide with the very harsh opinions that have been expressed so frequently concerning chaplains; but the general expression of opinion was, that while we all have to mourn that we have come far short of our duty, and there are some sad examples of inefficiency, as a class army chaplains are as attentive to their duties and as efficient as the same number of pastors at home. In my own personal observation, during the twenty-two months I have been in the army, I have met with several chaplains who shamefully desert their posts on the slightest pretexts; but, as a general rule, I have found them faithfully discharging their duty. Let the chaplain who is nearly always absent from his post, and shirks duty when there, be held up by name to public censure, but let not the man who is constantly at the post of duty be made to share his shame. This is as manifestly unjust as it would be to hold up the ‘shirker,’ the coward, or the ‘straggler’ as a type of the noble soldiery that compose our Southern army. It is as fair as it would be to take some of the lazy, good-for-nothing preachers at home as types of our Southern ministry. But I find that I am making this notice rather lengthy, and must pass on. We found the meeting so exceedingly pleasant that we determined to hold another next Tuesday, and to have them as frequently as circumstances would permit.

A committee (consisting of Rev. B. T. Lacy, Rev. W. C. Power, of South Carolina, and J. Wm. Jones) was appointed at this meeting to issue an address to the Churches of the Confederacy on the needs of the army. The following paper, written by Mr. Lacy, was adopted by the association, and is reproduced here as showing the views and feelings of the chaplains at the time:

Dear Brethren: The relations which we sustain to the various [232] branches of the Church of Christ in our country, and the position which we hold in the Army of the Confederate States, induces us to address you upon the important subject of the religious instruction of the soldiers engaged in the sacred cause of defending our rights, our liberties, and our homes. The one universal subject of thought and of feeling is the war. The hearts of the people, with singular unanimity, are enlisted in the common cause. The object of special interest to all is the army. The political and social interests involved excite the patriotism, and move the affection of all. There is little necessity for exhortation to love of country, or love to our sons and brothers, who are fighting and falling in our defence. These emotions, strong in the beginning, have become more intense from the heroic fortitude of our noble army, and from the wicked designs and infamous conduct of our enemies. The history of the past two years of the war has amazingly developed and magnified the issues, and strengthened and deepened the convictions under which the conflict began. Base, beyond all conception, must that heart be which does not swell with patriotic devotion to our dear and suffering country, which is not stirred with deep and righteous indignation against our cruel and guilty foes, and which is not melted with profound and tender sympathy for the privations of our soldiers and the afflictions of our oppressed fellow-citizens in the invaded districts. While these emotions may exist in some adequate measure, is the religious interest commensurate with the demand of the times? Is the Church as much alive to its duty as the State? Is the Christian as active and as earnest as the citizen? Duties never conflict. Our patriotism will be all the stronger and purer when sanctified by religion. The natural sympathies require the controlling influence and the plastic power of the love of Christ for their proper regulation. To the political and social must be added the religious element. To patriotism must be added the mightier principle of faith. Let love of country be joined to love of God —let the love of our suffering brother be associated with the love of our crucified Saviour—let the temporal interests be connected with the eternal. One duty should not be allowed to exclude another, nor one emotion crowd from the heart the holier presence of another. The Church should clearly understand and fully estimate the relation which it sustains to the war, and the duty which it owes to the army. In an important sense, the [233] cause of the country is the cause of the Church. The principles involved are those of right, of truth, and of humanity, as well as of law, of constitutional liberty, and of national independence. In a sense equally as true, and even more important, is the fact, that the Church, to the full extent of its ability and opportunity, is responsible for the souls of those who fall in this conflict. Has she realized this solemn responsibility? Has she discharged her sacred duty? With the opportunities which we have for estimating the work to be done, and of observing what has been accomplished, we are constrained to say that she has not. Surely her whole duty has not been done. We tremble when we contemplate the results which may follow from such delinquency. To estimate correctly the work which the Church is called to perform, we must consider the vast number of our citizens who now compose the armies. All the men of the country, below the age of forty, are in the field. To these must be added many manly boys below, and many patriotic men above the prescribed ages. The intellectual and physical strength of the entire country is assembled in martial array. The ratio of religious instructors assigned by the bill for the appointment of chaplains (a bill in some important respects still defective), is one chaplain for every regiment. How has this arrangement been seconded by the Church and the ministry? How many of the five or six hundred regiments are now supplied with faithful pastors? We have not the means of determining the number engaged in the whole service, but we give you the result as to our own corps— a body of troops commanded by that sincere Christian, Lieutenant-General T. J. Jackson, who has given special encouragement to the work of supplying the corps with chaplains—not one-half of the regiments of infantry are supplied. Some entire brigades have no chaplain at all. In the artillery attached to the corps the destitution is still greater. With these facts before us, is it too much to affirm that there are not two hundred chaplains now in the field in all our armies? At the same time, will not the statistics of the different Churches in the Confederate States show an aggregate of five or six thousand ministers of the Gospel?

Ministerial brethren, ought this thing so to be? Church of the living God, awake from your lethargy and arouse to your duty! We are well aware of the pure and lofty patriotism of the Southern ministry. We know that your hearts are as truly [234] and deeply enlisted in the cause of the country as ours; and we are also aware of the fact that a large number of chaplains are stationed at posts and laboring faithfully in hospitals, and many ministers of the Gospel are serving as officers and as privates in the army. But how great is the destitution in the field? And how many of our soldiers are perishing without the bread of life?

There are no great difficulties in the way of obtaining an appointment for any suitable minister in any denomination of Christians. God has opened a wide and effectual door of access to the work. In the work itself there are no difficulties which zeal and faith cannot readily overcome. The chief obstructions are those which exist everywhere in the conflict between sin and holiness. There are no vices or prejudices peculiar to the army which are any greater hindrances to the work of grace than those which are to be encountered in the cities and throughout the country. Our work is a hard work, and there are privations which must be endured. The fare of the chaplain is that of the soldier. The exposures and discomforts to be encountered are in striking contrast with the previous lives of most ministers of the Gospel. The health of some has failed in the service, and some, indeed, have laid down their lives for their brethren, but to many the change of habits has been beneficial, and the feeble have come to endure hardness as good soldiers. The chaplain, however faithful, will at times be discouraged. Men will seem to take little interest in his preaching; profanity, card-playing, and Sabbath-breaking will be on the increase; his presence often will be no restraint upon vice, and when he has faithfully discharged his duty he may meet with censure and ridicule. In camp-life there is an indolence of mind produced, and an aversion to serious thought. There is also a disposition to seek entertainment in all manner of foolish talking and jesting. On the march, and on an active campaign, the attention is much absorbed, and time is often wanting for religious duties. The carelessness and open apostasy of professors of religion are here—as well as everywhere else—a great hindrance to the success of the Gospel. The readiness with which chaplains have resigned their places, or absented themselves from their regiments, is a source of discouragement to the soldiers and to their brethren who remain. In the hasty opinions and sweeping judgments of many, in and out of the army, the deficiencies of some have been unjustly attributed [235] to others, and the failure of a few regarded as the failure of all. But these, you perceive, brethren, are essentially the same difficulties, in a different form, which the minister of God must encounter everywhere in this sinful world. Our chief ground of discouragement, however, is in ourselves. With more faith in God, and more love for the souls of men, with more of the spirit of our blessed Lord, we should behold greater and more precious results.

If there are discouragements peculiar to our work, there are peculiar encouragements also. We believe that God is with us, not only to own and bless His word to the salvation of men, but that His blessing rests upon our cause and attends our armies. It is a high privilege and great satisfaction to preach to soldiers to whom God has given such signal victories. The moral influence of a just and righteous cause is a happy introduction to, and a good preparation for the holier cause of religion. The objects for which our soldiers are fighting possess incalculable power in controlling the naturally demoralizing influence of war. We are thankful to God for the large number of Christian officers who command our armies and aid us in our work. The presence of so many pious men in the ranks gives us a Church in almost every regiment to begin with. The intercourse and communion of Christian brethren in the army is as intimate and precious as anywhere upon earth. It is an interesting fact, that by this work ministers of the different denominations are brought into closer and more harmonious co-operation, thus promoting the unity and charity of the whole Church, and greatly encouraging each other. Many of the greatest temptations to vice are excluded from the army. There is much time for profitable reflection. The near approach of death excites to serious thought. Religious reading is sought and appreciated. Many opportunities for personal kindness to the sick and the wounded, on the battle-field and in the camp, bind grateful hearts to faithful chaplains. In preaching the word, conducting prayer-meetings and Bible-classes, by circulating the Scriptures and other religious reading, and by frequent conversations in private, we have ample opportunity for doing our Master's work and laboring for immortal souls. Our greatest encouragement, however, has been from the presence and power of the Holy Spirit among us. He who has led our armies to victory, conducting them like the hosts of Israel with the pillar of cloud and of fire by night [236] and by day, has also encamped round about us, and the tabernacle of the Lord has been in the midst of our tents. We believe there have been more powerful and blessed revivals of religion in the army than out of it during the last two years. We know of a large Church in which almost all the additions for more than a year have been of young men visiting their homes on furloughs from the army. At this very time a most interesting and extensive work of grace is in progress amongst the troops stationed in and around the desolated city of Fredericksburg. The evidences of God's love and mercy are thus brought into immediate and striking contrast with the marks of the cruelty and barbarity of men.

Brethren, do not these movements of the Holy Ghost indicate where God's ministers should follow, and in what work they should engage? Our work, though hard, is a pleasant work, and we feel it to be a precious and glorious work. Much more has been accomplished than has been made known abroad. Comparatively few publications have been sent out by the chaplains, but many earnest and faithful sermons have been preached, many copies of the Holy Scriptures have been put into the hands of the soldiers by chaplains and colporters, and much printed matter in the form of religious newspapers and tracts has been circulated and eagerly read; precious communions have been held, and souls have been added to the Church of Christ, of such as, we believe, shall be saved. Eternity alone can disclose the extent of the blessed work which faithful chaplains have accomplished in our armies.

We have told you these things, brethren, that your interest might be increased in this cause, and in ourselves as identified with the cause. If we have only mentioned what was before familiar to you, we desire to stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance. We would respectfully, and in Christian love, submit the following suggestions for your consideration, earnestly beseeching your co-operation, your sympathy and your prayers:

Let the Church humble herself before her Lord—let all Christians, of every name in our land, engage in acts of humiliation and of prayer. The frequent calls of our excellent and pious President to this duty have been attended by evident tokens of the Divine favor. May the observance of the appointed day, which is now at hand, be followed by the signal blessing of Almighty God, and the solemn day be kept holy unto the Lord [237] by the army and by all the people. I fever a nation was called to prostrate itself at the foot of the Cross, and to suplicate the mercy of God with strong crying and tears, it is this. God, we believe, will deliver us from our enemies, but that deliverance must come in answer to prayer.

In order that our prayers may be heard, and our solemn days be not an abomination unto the Lord, we must put away sin from among us. There are sins, both of a national and individual character, which are rapidly engendered in a time like this— a spirit of recklessness and profanity—a disregard of the laws of life and of property—too great a reliance upon an arm of flesh— and it may be, under peculiar aggravations, a sinful feeling of malignant and bloodthirsty revenge has been indulged. But, more than all, a spirit of unhallowed greed, of unrighteous extortion. Ill-gotten gains will prove a curse to the individual, and injurious to the country. It is no time for amassing wealth. Can the true patriot, can the true Christian grow rich in the hour of his country's peril? If in any proper and legitimate manner, without injury to others, money is accumulated, give it to your country, give it to the poor, give it to the suffering families of the soldiers, send a chaplain to the army, and assist in the support of his family while he is engaged in the work. Let the Church of Jesus Christ clear herself of this sin, and let not the hidden wedge and the Babylonish garment be found in her tents. By precept and example let the Church seek to foster a generous and self-sacrificing spirit among all classes of the people.

Brethren, send us more chaplains. The harvest truly is great, the laborers are few. We send abroad to the Churches the Macedonian cry, Come and help us. The work is an earnest, a pressing work. Now is emphatically the accepted time for the army. The cause will not brook delay. A series of battles, which may speedily follow the opening of the campaign, will sweep away thousands of our brave comrades and friends— thousands of your own sons and brothers. Then come while it is called to-day. Come up to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty, and escape the curse of Meroz.

We especially appeal to the Churches in their organized capacity, and ask of conventions, conferences, presbyteries and associations, to set apart men of the best talent and largest experience unto this work. Such a call, coming with the potential [238] authority of a Church of God, would doubtless decide many of the ablest ministers in the country to cast in their lots with us. We cordially and earnestly invite the venerable fathers of the church to visit the army and preach for a few days or weeks in the regiments. Such voluntary labors, in many instances, have been signally blessed. The Churches should be willing to spare their pastors for this work, and seek temporary supplies from neighboring ministers; or, at least, all congregations might allow their ministers to visit the army for a time and labor for those who have gone forth in their defence. Have not the soldiers, who are away from their homes and Churches, the right to claim a part of the time of their own pastors? But especially do we call upon the younger men in the ministry—and we call upon you, young men, because you are strong—come, take part in this sacred cause and this holy fellowship with us.

If the ministers of the Gospel, below the age of forty, are exempted from ordinary military duty, are they not bound to serve their country and the army in the capacity of chaplains? Have you a right to stay away while this destitution exists? We urge no extreme or fanatical view; let all the regiments be supplied, and still the vast majority of ministers will remain at home with their congregations. We plead only for that which is just and equal. And we feel that we but do this when we maintain that congregations should assist in the support of the families of chaplains while laboring in the army. Such an arrangement would give hundreds of excellent men to the work.

Brethren, pray for us. To know that we are constantly remembered at a throne of grace—in the Churches and in the families—in the public and in the private devotions of the people of God—will greatly encourage our hearts and strengthen our hands. Prayer should be made without ceasing to the God and Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in behalf of our cause, our country, our officers and our soldiers. Pray for us, that we may be faithful, and that our labors may be blessed in the conversion of souls.

We ask these things of you, dear brethren, because we believe that the final success of our arms is intimately connected with the fidelity of the Church in fulfilling its duty to the army, and closely related to the religious character of the army itself. It was remarked by one of our distinguished and Christian generals, that ‘the only ground of apprehension to be felt is from the [239] want of piety in the army. Were all the soldiers sincere Christians and praying men, in a cause like ours, they would be invincible.’ In such an army there would be two distinct sources of success in addition to the ordinary elements of military power —the loftier courage derived from Christian faith, and the direct blessing of God in answer to prayer. If the want of faithfulness on the part of the Church, the impiety of the army and the people, should prevent God's blessing, then the unfaithfulness of the Church will have blasted our hopes, destroyed our country, and left a continent in ruins.

There should be no separation made between the army and the country, between the soldier and the citizen. The army is composed of the people, and the soldiers are citizens. At this very time the soldiers in the field are the only electors of representatives for many of the congressional and legislative districts. Those who achieve our independence are the same who must maintain it. The sole governors of the country, for one generation at least, will be the survivors of the army. Those who win the battles, must make, administer, enforce and obey the laws. If these be depraved and godless through the neglect of the Church, and their want of moral integrity and elevation destroy the government, and bring upon the land the curse of God, then in vain the mighty sacrifice of treasure and of blood —in vain the army of our martyred dead—in vain the sacred gift bequeathed from bleeding sires to sons. Better never to have fought and won the victory, than afterwards to forfeit it and lose the blessing. This may be the last struggle for constitutional liberty which will be made on this continent. The progress of the race, the happiness of millions, are involved. A grand responsibility rests upon our young republic, and a mighty work lies before it. Baptized in its infancy in blood, may it receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and be consecrated to its high and holy mission among the nations of the earth.

This, we fondly hope, will be the last year of this bloody war. But of that no one can certainly know. How ardently is a permanent and honorable peace desired! For this object united prayers should go up continually to the throne of God by night and by day. Weeping between the porch and the altar, Zion should lift up her voice without ceasing unto her Saviour and her God. This war must be regarded by all Christian men as a chastisement from the hand of God on account of our sins. [240] The object of all chastening is purification. War, pestilence and famine, when they came upon God's ancient people, were designed to turn them from their sins, and to bring them back to his love and service. When that result was accomplished the chastisement was removed. Has the Church in our afflicted land learned aright the chastening lessons of her God? Have the rulers and the people, like those of Nineveh, repented before the judgments of the Lord? In some hopeful measure this undoubtedly has been the result. We believe that in humility, in sincerity of faith, in thankfulness for mercies, and in prayerfulness, there has been improvement. Men have been called to sacrifice self for principle, and freely has the sacrifice been made by millions. A tenderer charity, and a larger benevolence than ever before, open the hands and fill the hearts of many.

A higher estimate has been placed upon truth and upon right by a people resisting unto blood, striving against sin. We may indulge the hope that the results which God designed are following from the war. And when they are accomplished the war will cease. The coming of peace will be insured, and will be hastened by our fidelity in duty and our devotion in prayer.

But, brethren, our great argument with you is the salvation of the souls of men, the salvation of our sons and brothers, the salvation of our dear soldiers. We plead for those who are ready to lay down the life that now is. Shall they lose also the life which is to come? If the sacrifice of the body is demanded, shall that of the soul be made? If time is forfeited, must eternity be lost?

The great object for which the Church of God was instituted upon earth is the same as that for which the Son of God died upon the Cross—the glory of God in the salvation of men.

We urge you, then, by this last and greatest of all considerations, to aid us in this blessed work by your presence, your sympathies, your contributions, and your prayers.

March 24, 1863.

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. [241]

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.

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