previous next

Chapter 20: autumn of 1863.

The close of summer and the opening of autumn were marked by great religious power in all the armies of the Confederacy.

Rev. Dr. John C. Granbery, whose labors among the soldiers will ever be remembered by the surviving veterans of the war, in September wrote of his work to the Richmond Christian Advocate:

I have been employed one month in my new position as a missionary to the army. Bro. Evans having been compelled by ill health to resign his appointment, Bishop Early transferred me, at my request, from Ewell's to Longstreet's corps. I naturally felt a preference to remain with those troops among whom I had labored as a chaplain from almost the commencement of the war. The last four weeks I have been preaching daily, and sometimes twice a day, in the brigades of Pickett's division. I have never before witnessed such a wide-spread and powerful religious interest among the soldiers. They crowd eagerly to hear the gospel, and listen with profound attention. Many hearts have been opened to receive the word of the Lord in every brigade. It would delight your heart to mark the seriousness, order, and deep feeling, which characterize all our meetings. In Armistead's brigade, where I have been most constantly working in co-operation with Bro. Cridlin, a Baptist, and chaplain of the 38th Virginia, and with other ministers, there have been some seventy professions of conversion, and the altar is filled morning and night with penitents. The change is manifest in the whole camp. Men have [322] put away their cards; instead of blasphemy, the voice of prayer and the sweet songs of Zion are heard at all hours. There is little gambling, but all seem contented and interested. We have many proofs that it is a genuine and mighty work of grace. Yesterday reminded me of Sabbath at camp-meeting. There reigned here a deeper quiet. Divine services began at an early hour of the morning, and continued into the night with brief intervals. At 9 A. M. Sabbath School was held under the auspices of the Christian Association. At 10 A. M., 4 and 7 P. M., the congregation met for preaching and other exercises. It was a happy day — a season of re freshing from the presence of the Lord. Bro. August is conducting an excellent meeting in his regiment. Already there have been forty-two professions of faith, and the work deepens and widens. I have enjoyed the privilege of being with him frequently, and have never seen a revival progress in a more satisfactory and promising manner. The Christian Associations which have recently been organized in the different brigades will, I doubt not, accomplish great good. They furnish an opportunity for the public confession of Christ and the enjoyment of the friendship of saints. They are a nucleus for lay co-operation with the chaplains, or lay labors in the absence of chaplains. In Kemper's brigade the revival, which began last spring, still goes on, chiefly under the ministry of Rev. Dr. Pryor, of the Presbyterian Church. He is a most laborious and efficient workman.

In a circular sent out to the Churches and people by the Chaplains' Association of the first and second corps of General Lee's army, urging hearty co-operation in the work of saving souls, most cheering accounts of the revival were given:

The Lord is doing wonderful things for Zion in the ranks of our army. Christians are daily growing in grace and fidelity. Sinners are turning by hundreds to the King of Righteousness and finding that peace which [323] comes by faith; while many are yet seeking the Prince of Life. We believe that, under God's direction, much of this work has been done by the fraternal intercourse secured by our organization. May the Lord bless you with his Spirit and give his Word prosperity through your instrumentality.

The religious, and even the secular papers, often filled columns with the news of God's work among the soldiers. The Richmond Christian Advocate, published in the coveted capital of the Confederacy, said:

Not for years has such a revival prevailed in the Confederate States. Its records gladden the columns of every religious journal. Its progress in the army is a spectacle of moral sublimity over which men and angels can rejoice. Such camp-meetings were never seen before in America. The bivouac of the soldier never witnessed such nights of glory and days of splendor. The Pentecostal fire lights the camp, and the hosts of armed men sleep beneath the wings of angels rejoicing over many sinners that have repented.

The people at home are beginning to feel the kindling of the same grace in their hearts. It is inspiring to read the correspondence, now, between converts in 3amp and friends at home, and to hear parents praise God for tidings from their absent sons who have lately given their hearts to the Lord.

“Father is converted,” says a bright-faced child of twelve years, “Mamma got a letter to-day, and father says that there is a great revival in his regiment.” The child is too happy to keep her joy to herself. What glorious news from the army is this! This is victory — triumph — peace! This is the token of good which the great King gives to cheer his people. It is the best evidence that-prayer is heard, and that the Lord is with us. Let us show ourselves grateful for such grace and “walk worthy of God who has called us to his kingdom and glory.” Let fervent prayer continue and patient faith [324] wait on God, “who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.”

The letters from the converted soldiers were often the means, under God, of awakening an interest in the Churches at home. And back to the army went letters telling how hearts were touched and made truly penitent by reason of the tidings sent from the boys in the tents and trenches.

From Gen. Bragg's army that veteran soldier of the Cross, Dr. J. B. McFerrin, wrote:

I have the pleasure of saying that notwithstanding the recent numerous movements of the army of Tennessee the work of God still progresses. Many have been brought to Christ in various brigades, and wherever the troops remain long enough in one place religions services are observed with great effect. The chaplains and missionaries work with zeal, and have much good fruit. Let our friends at home thank God and take courage. Hundreds of soldiers are coming to Jesus. My health is good, though I feel weak with jaundice. We now have at work in this army as missionaries from our Church: Revs. R. P. Ransom, C. W. Miller, Wellborn Mooney, W. Burr, Bro. Allen, and your humble servant. We expect Bro. Petway.

Soldiers were converted by thousands every week. From Virginia Rev. G. R. Talley wrote:

God is wonderfully reviving his work here, and throughout the army. Congregations large — interest almost universal. In our Chaplains' meeting it was thought with imperfect statistics that about five hundred are converted every week. We greatly need chaplainsmen of experience and ministerial influence. Our Regimental Christian Association, as a kind of substitute for a church, and our Bible-classes, are doing well.

Under the powerful stimulus of such a revival the Churches at home redoubled their efforts to supply preachers. [325]

The Executive Committee of Domestic Missions of the Presbyterian Church sent fifty-three ministers to the armies. The other Churches also called on their best men for this work, and gladly they went out into the harvest. Oh, what scenes they witnessed! what meetings they held! At noon or night, in sunshine or in storm, in the huts of the soldiers, in the fields and woods, in the crowded hospitals, the men of God lifted up their voices and the men of war wept, and bowed, and prayed before the Lord of Hosts.

But even when there was no minister to lead, devout laymen were used by the Lord to carry on his work. A Lieutenant in Buford's brigade, army of Mississippi, wrote:

A glorious revival of religion has just closed in our brigade for want of more laborers. The fruits of the meeting are a large number of conversions, and a still larger number of earnest penitents. I believe all the mourners are in earnest and fully determined to accomplish their salvation. We have in our regiment a very prosperous Christian Association, which meets every Wednesday night, and a prayer-meeting every night, which is always largely attended by an attentive audience. Having no chaplain or preacher in the regiment, we feel that the work of the Lord devolves upon the lay members; and quite a number of them take a lively interest in the great work-stand up boldly before the people as advocates for the cause of Christ; and oh! how beautiful it is to see the young beginner, boldly, yet tremblingly, pleading with God in behalf of his fellow-soldiers! Pray for us, that the Lord may prosper our efforts to advance his kingdom.

The venerable Bishop Andrew, of the M. E. Church, South, went among the soldiers like a father among his children, and rejoiced in the privilege of preaching to them the Word of Life.

Of a visit to the soldiers at Demopolis, Ala., most of [326] whom were paroled prisoners from Vicksburg, and among whom were many of the gallant men who came from Missouri with Gen. Price, he says in a letter to the Southern Christian Advocate:

On last Sabbath I visited Demopolis, where there are a good many soldiers, mostly paroled prisoners who were captured at Vicksburg. Most of these have been recently exchanged, and will, I suppose, soon be in the field again. On Sunday afternoon I preached in the camp of Gen. Cockerell's Missouri brigade to quite a large and attentive congregation. At the close I was requested by the chaplain, Rev. Bro. Howard, of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, to preach for them again on Monday morning at 9 o'clock, to which I consented, and the next morning was in my place and tried to give them a plain, affectionate talk, to which they listened with apparent interest. At the beginning of the services I baptized a young man who had been converted at one of the soldiers' prayer-meetings; for the young men of the brigade have kept up a regular prayer-meeting for many months.

I was glad to find among the young men of the army a good many sons of the preachers and of others, my old friends in Missouri. It did me good to hear from them, and to know that many of these young men worthily represent and recommend the religion of their fathers. May God bless and keep them faithful to the end.

The Bishop pays a well-merited tribute to the men of Gen. Price's corps, and gives us the impressions of his great and clear mind during the conflict:

I think, from what I saw and heard, that these Missourians are good soldiers and very orderly in their general deportment in camp. They belong to the class who came South with Gen. Price, and have been in the army ever since; and, best of all, not a few of them are decidedly pious. Gen. Cockerell is a Cumberland Presbyterian, and Col. McCown is a Methodist. Both of them [327] have a good reputation for piety. If we had all such officers and men we could not fail to be victorious. May God help us, for we have but little to hope for from man. Well, God reigns. He has important results to accomplish; and when they shall be accomplished, we shall have peace on some terms. I believe we shall ultimately triumph; but I fear our people have yet a bitter cup to drink. I have, from the beginning, believed that the institution of slavery was to be either destroyed or established on a firmer basis. This is still my opinion. My impression is, that, let the struggle terminate as it may, the value of that class of property is to be very greatly affected.

On Sunday, the 20th of September, the fierce battle of Chickamauga was fought. The little stream bears an Indian name, which means the River of Death. We know not whether, in bygone days, any bloody fight between Indian tribes secured to it this name, but if so, in this dreadful contest it was rebaptized in blood. The flower of our Western army, with some of the best Lieutenants and soldiers of Gen. Lee's invincible army of Northern Virginia, met the Federals. It was here that Gen. Hood lost his leg; it was here that Gen. Preston Smith and Gen. Deishler were killed; it was here that thousands of the sons of the South poured out their blood to swell the “river of death.”

After a most obstinate resistance, the Federal army was driven from the field and forced to take refuge behind entrenchments near Chattanooga.

Rev. S. M. Cherry, one of the most faithful laborers among the soldiers of the Western army, gives an account of the blessed scenes that were witnessed among the wounded and dying men. Of the work of the chaplains he says:

Dr. McFerrin was at Cleburne's Division hospital, where his son was, slightly wounded, and his nephew, Rev. John P. McFerrin, severely wounded, working with [328] the sufferers. Dr. Cross, chaplain on Gen. Buckner's staff, was on the field and at the hospital. Bros. Mooney and Miller were at Stewart's Division hospital, active and industrious in attending to the wounded and dying. Dr. Petway came in good time to render efficient aid in the double capacity of surgeon and minister. I saw Brothers Burr and Browning on the field; also Brothers Quarles, Harris, A. W. Smith, Fitzgerald, Daniel, and others, looking after their wounded and suffering soldiers. Chaplain Willoughby was with the dying and superintended the burial of the dead of our division. Bro. McVoy came in time to minister to the wants of his men at the hospital, and many others were at the post of duty if not of danger.

“It was encouraging,” he says,

to the Christian heart to see the soldier of the Cross die so heroically. Said Mr. Pool, a member of the Methodist Church in Columbus, Ga., whose shoulder was shattered, “Parson, write my wife a calm letter and tell her how I died; for I will never be able to write her again. Tell her I was ready and willing to die.” Mr. Turner, of Elbert county, Ga., was horribly mangled by a shell, and while on the gory litter said to me, “I want to die; all is well.”

Sam Robins, of Spring Place, Ga., amid the flying, falling, and exploding shells, handed me his hymn-book and his wife's ambrotype, having the night previous talked long with me about his religious enjoyments, pious mother, and praying father, sending messages of love to his youthful wife, and declaring that he felt no fear or dread of the coming conflict, though he seemed to be impressed with the idea that he would not survive the battle. He fell the first day without speaking a word. Others died full of faith and hope. Several of the slain were devoted Christians. I miss them much at our religious services now. On last Sabbath, at the close of the sermon, about twenty-five arose or knelt, declaring their resolution to lead new lives-several officers among [329] the number. Most of our commands being engaged in constructing fortifications on Sabbath evening, I had the privilege of preaching to Liddell's Arkansas brigade, which is encamped at Missionary Ridge. From the preaching place we had a fine view of Chattanooga and the Federal defences. The attendance and attention of the audience were very good. They have enjoyed a gracious revival of religion the past summer, and need chaplains very much.

At twilight I preached to a Kentucky brigade, commanded of late by the ill-fated Gen. Helm. There are many Christian gentlemen in that command. I preached for them again at 6. o'clock last evening. They meet every evening for religious service just after “retreat” is sounded. Brother Mooney preached for our brigade last night. It is stationed in reach of the enemy's guns.

Mr. Cherry gives us an account of one of the saddest scenes that can be witnessed in an army, the shooting of a deserter. He called to see the poor young man and found him deeply penitent for his sins:

I attended him in his last moments. When he reached the place of execution he knelt beside his coffin and grave, and in the presence of the entire division offered an audible, earnest prayer, making confession of his great sin and praying for God to pardon him, and touchingly alluded to his only sister, and wife, to whom he had been married but one year, and commended his departing spirit to God. He was calm while the sentence was read, listened attentively to the lesson read of the dying Saviour and penitent thief, and responded fervently during the recital of the hymn, ‘There is a fountain filled with blood,’ etc. His feet and hands were hound and eyes hoodwinked. The command was given, aim, ready, fire, and he fell, pierced by five balls through the head and body. Thus perished the young deserter.

There was scarcely a spot where soldiers were gathered where the revival did not manifest its saving power. [330] Think of a revival within the limits of battered Fort Sumter.

Near the close of September, Rev. A. B. Stephens, chaplain of the 11th South Carolina regiment, wrote:

We now constitute the garrison at Fort Sumter. On the last fast-day I began a meeting which has been going on and increasing in interest all the while till now. God has honored us with a gracious revival of religion among the soldiery of this command. A few months ago but two officers in the regiment were members of the Church. Now but few more than that number are not professors of religion. About 200 have joined the Church, and a larger number have been converted and are now happy in the love of God. It would do your soul good to visit the old Fort, battered and scarred as it is, and hear the soldiers make the battered walls ring with the high praises of the living God. No camp-meeting that I have ever attended can come near it.

In Gen. G. T. Anderson's Georgia brigade, composed of the 7th, 8th, 9th, 11th, and 59th regiments, the influence of a Soldiers' Christian Association was most powerful for good.

“It has drawn out and developed,” says a soldier of the brigade, “all the religious element among us. It has created a very pleasant, social feeling among the regiments, and has blended them into one congregation. The three chaplains of the brigade work together, and thus lighten the burdens of each other, and also extend help to the two regiments that are without chaplains. The Association now numbers over 400 members. We recently broke up a camp, where, for four weeks, we have enjoyed an unbroken rest; and it has been one long ‘camp-meeting,’ --a great revival season,--during which we held divine services daily. It has been a time of great joy with us, reviving pure, evangelical religion, and converting many souls. Above 80 members have been added to the Association as the fruit of our meeting. [331] A great revolution has been wrought in the moral tone of the brigade. During a part of this time we were assisted by Rev. Mr. Gwin, of Rome, Ga., of the Baptist Church, and by Rev. Dr. Baird, of Mississippi, of the Presbyterian Church. Their labors were highly appreciated, and were very valuable. The 8th, 9th, and 11th regiments, each have Sabbath Schools, which are a new and interesting feature in the religious teachings of the army. Much interest is taken in it. Full one-third of my regiment are members of my school.”

In Law's brigade the work was equally deep and powerful.

“ Last March,” says a soldier, “I was quite sick, and was sent to the hospital in Richmond, Va. At that time my regiment (the gallant 4th Alabama) was extremely wicked. You could scarcely meet with any one who did not use God's name in vain. You could see groups assembled almost in every direction gambling. I obtained a furlough and returned home to my dear wife and children, who live not far from your city. I returned to my command some two weeks since, and to my surprise and delight I found at least three-fourths of my company not only members of the Church of the living God, but professors of religion. This state of affairs is not limited to my company, but it extends throughout the entire regiment, and I might say the whole brigade (Law's brigade). God grant that this good work may continue to flourish throughout the entire army.”

In the cause of the South the greatest and the humblest of her sons yielded up their lives freely to secure her freedom. Among those who died this year the name of Gen. John Buchanan Floyd stands prominent. Before the war he had filled various offices as a statesman. In 1849 he was chosen by the General Assembly of Virginia Governor of the State, and served for the legal term. In 1857, on the accession of James Buchanan to the Presidency of the United States, he was called to [332] the post of Secretary of War. When the war broke out in 1861 he entered the Confederate army as Brigadier-General, and for a time commanded a part of the forces in Western Virginia. He was afterwards transferred to the army of the West, and was at Fort Donelson, where he participated in the terrible battle that preceded the loss of that stronghold. With Gen. Pillow and several thousand men he withdrew from the Fort before it was surrendered to Gen. Grant. Failing health disqualified him for the arduous duties of a soldier, and he retired to his home in Virginia. In little more than a year and a half after the Fort Donelson affair he was in his grave. It is pleasing to know that in his last illness he turned with a penitent heart to Christ Jesus as his only hope of salvation. Rev. E. E. Wexler, of the Holston Conference, M. E. Church, South, was called to see him in his last hours, and gives a description of the scene:

“I was summoned by telegraph,” he says,

to attend the bedside of Gen. Floyd, and reached him four days before his death. I found him calm and peaceful-his mind as clear and his judgment as sound as ever in his life. He took me by the hand, telling me he could not survive more than a few days. He spoke of his religious feelings and prospects in the most beautiful and satisfactory manner. I wish I could recall his language, but can do so only very imperfectly. He said he was not afraid to die; that he had the strongest assurance of his acceptance with his Maker. He felt that he was a sinner, and that his only hope was in the infinite mercy of God through the Lord Jesus Christ. As he spoke of the goodness of God, his heart seemed to glow with gratitude and love; and as I repeated the promises of the Bible suited to his case, his eyes kindled with interest and the large tear-drops flowed copiously over the manly face of the battle-scarred warrior.

He said that in public life he had many enemies; that he had been wronged-deeply wronged-yet he [333] fully and freely forgave it all; that before that God in whose presence he expected very soon to stand he could say that he had no malice nor aught in his heart against any man. He had been impressed with the importance of connecting himself with the Church, but had been hindered from doing so by various causes, but now he wished to be received into its communion and to receive the holy sacrament, and I saw no good reasons why his wishes should not be granted; accordingly, he was received into the Church and the sacrament administered. These solemn and impressive services being performed, much to the gratification of himself and friends, he now felt that his work was done. After this he conversed but little, being very weak, and much of the time suffering severe pain; yet he retained full possession of his faculties to the last, and the same calm, peaceful state of mind. Much of the time he was engaged in prayer, and often seemed anxious that his departure should be hastened.

In the army of General Lee, while it lay on the upper Rappahannock, the revival flame swept through every corps, division, brigade, and regiment. Of the work which came under his eye in Ewell's corps Dr. Rosser wrote:

My plan is, to visit and preach to this corps, division by division, and brigade by brigade-stopping longest where I can do most good, noticing vacancies in the chaplaincy, circulating religious reading as it reaches me, and sympathizing with the sick and wounded soldiers. A nobler work cannot engage the heart of the preacher, or the attention of the Church and nation. I can but glance at the work at this time.

The whole army is a vast field, ready and ripe to the harvest, and all the reapers have to do is to go in and reap from end to end. The susceptibility of the soldiery to the gospel is wonderful, and, doubtful as the remark may appear, the military camp is most favorable to the [334] work of revival. The soldiers, with the simplicity of little children, listen to and embrace the truth. Already over two thousand have professed conversion, and over two thousand more are penitent. The hope of the Church and the country is in our armies, and religion in the army should be a subject of the most serious concern to the Church. That Church that does most for religion during the war will do most for religion when the war is over. Let our Church gave an eye to this, and with a holy faith and zeal grasp both the present and the future. Oh, let the shepherds come and gather the lambs in the wilderness!

We want our best men here-men of courage, faith, experience — holy men — hard working men — sympathizing men — self-denying men — men baptized afresh every day by the Holy Ghost for the work. No place here for slow men, mere reasoners and expositors, however learned or eloquent; war has no time to wait for such men — the soldier has no time to wait for such men-he may die to-morrow. The few men now with us in this corps-and noble men they are-can do but a tithe of the work required — some of them have the work of a brigade. We want more and the best. Let our Churches be content to spare them.

We want vastly more religious reading, Oh, it is affecting to see the soldiers crowd and press about the preacher for what of tracts, etc., he has to distribute, and it is sad to see hundreds retiring without being supplied! One wishes to give himself away to meet the want. While the country is expending hundreds of millions of dollars, and pouring out its blood like water on the altar of patriotism, let the Church be as prominent in devotion and zeal to religion in the army. Let religion rival patriotism in activity. Light up the great camp of war with celestial fire.

The sufferings of the soldiers were very great, exposed as they were, with poor rations and clothing, to inclement [335] weather, and often sleeping on the bare, muddy ground. Rev. A. D. McVoy, writing to the Southern Christian Advocate from Chattanooga, says:

In the trenches the dull days are passed without improvement. It is true we have splendid scenery, and these huge mountains enclose a magnificent theatre of war. We can climb the rugged sides of Lookout or Missionary Ridge and look down upon two armies watching each other, hesitating to attack each other in their present positions. But for the past two weeks the clouds have gathered thick and low over us and drenched the country with superabundance of rain. The cold, mud, and rain, have produced great suffering and sickness among the troops; for we have been entirely without shelter in very exposed positions. Up to the present very few flies have been furnished — no tents. In our field hospital we have over three hundred and fifty sick from our brigade (Clayton's).

But in the midst of these hardships the work of salvation steadily progressed.

“I never saw,” says Mr. McVoy,

men who were better prepared to receive religious instruction and advice. In fact, they earnestly desired and greatly appreciated the attention of the chaplains and missionaries in this respect. The dying begged for our prayers and our songs. Every evening we would gather around the wounded and sing and pray with them. Many wounded, who had hitherto led wicked lives, became entirely changed, and by their vows and determinations evinced their purpose to devote themselves to God. Most of those who died in a conscious state gave gratifying and satisfactory testimony of the efficacy, of the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ in a dying hour. I witnessed some triumphant deaths-prayer and praise from dying lips. One young Tennesseean, James Scott, of the 32d Tennessee, I think, attracted the attention of all. He continually begged us to sing for him and to pray with [336] him. He earnestly desired to see his mother before he died, which was not permitted, as she was in the enemy's lines, and he died rejoicing in the grace of God. We will long remember Jimmie Scott. An attractive countenance, pleasing manners, he endured his intense sufferings with great fortitude; not a murmur or complaint was heard from him, and his strong religious faith sustained him to his dying moment.

I might go on and describe many scenes like the above to show how our wounded boys die. They know how to fight, and many of them know how to die.

The devotion of the ladies of the South to the sick and wounded soldiers was so earnest, unselfish, and untiring, that it will stand forever as an example of true heroism.

The hospital at which Mr. McVoy served was established at the house of a lady who, with a bleeding heart, gave herself to Christian ministrations with sincere love.

With one son killed and the other severely wounded, and the care of a large family upon her, her place devastated and ruined, her stock killed up, she ceased not to minister to the wants of our wounded and comfort the suffering, distributing all the milk and eggs she could procure. Many a wounded soldier will long remember Mrs. Thedford, for she was truly a mother to them in their hours of distress and pain. The entire family were untiring in providing for the wounded. Mrs. Durrett, from Tuscaloosa, although she arrived some time after the battle, when most of the wounded had been sent off, contributed greatly by her motherly nursing and attention to relieve and comfort. Not much can be done in the army at present by the chaplains and missionaries until the rainy season shall pass. I was glad to meet the Rev. Mr. Miller, from Kentucky Conference, who has just arrived to commence his operations as a missionary. He was mounted on a beautiful Kentucky horse, fully equipped for the contest.


Some, nay, many of our readers will recall the sad scenes witnessed by Rev. C. W. Miller in a trip through a portion of the South. “Along the railroads,” he says,

the “tax in kind” is being deposited in such quantities that we imagine if an old Egyptian could raise his head after a sleep of 3,500 years and look upon the corn, etc., in this land, lie would think that it was the seventh year of plenty in the days of Joseph.

And yet, hundreds of homes are saddened by hunger and want. The grasp of extortion's mailed hand and marble heart is upon all this abundance; and hungry orphans and penniless mothers starve in a land of plenty! “I speak that I do know, and testify that I have seen.” “ If the clouds be full of rain they empty themselves upon the earth,” thus teaching men to pour forth the blessings which Heaven has deposited with them for the poor; but they need not the lesson, and challenge the ascending cries of orphans, widows, and helpless age, to bring down God's vengeance.

On my return I visited the memorable field of Chickamauga. Everywhere may be seen the marks of an awful struggle. Trees are scarred and perforated by balls of all sizes. Solid oaks and pines, in many instances of enormous size, are shivered by cannon-balls. But the saddest sight there is the long array of Confederate graves. All over that bloody field sleep, in their narrow beds, the deathless heroes of the 19th and 20th of September. No hand of affection plants a rose or trains the evergreen over their grave. Side by side they repose upon the field their valor won. The grand old forest above them stands sentinel at their graves, whilst turbid Chickamauga sings their requiem along its banks.

We are preaching and laboring for the spiritual good of the soldiers as much as the situation will allow. The troops are in line of battle, and we assemble a regiment or two around their camp-fires at night and speak to [338] them the Word of Life. The soldiers receive gladly the truth, and are always anxious to hear preaching. Never was there an ampler field for ministerial labor. May God give success to the efforts of his servants with these brave men.

We have already stated that the Presbyterian Church sent over fifty laborers into the army. At the session of the Synod of Virginia Dr. J. Leighton Wilson, Secretary of Missions, gave a sketch of the army revival and urged that his Church prosecute its Army Mission work with increased zeal. Dr. Wilson said:

There is a state of religion in the army of Tennessee quite as interesting as that in the army of Northern Virginia. The Rev. Dr. Palmer says he has never before seen so great a movement. Go where you will, and only let it be known that you are to preach — it hardly makes a difference who the preacher is-and crowds will attend to hear. Dr. W. thought it doubtful whether there had been anything since the days of Pentecost equal to this wonderful work of the Holy Spirit of God in our army. If ever there was a mighty, an imperative call upon us, it is now. If we do not rise to the occasion, our Church will degrade herself before the world and before other denominations.

Of his work after the battle of Chickamauga Dr. J. B. McFerrin wrote:

The revival in the army progressed up to the time of the Chickamauga fight; and even since, notwithstanding the condition of the troops moving to and fro, or engaged in erecting fortifications, the good work in some regiments still goes on. The good accomplished by the ministry of the Word will never be appreciated by the Church till the light of eternity shall reveal it. Some of the fruits have already ripened; souls converted in the army have gone to the rest that remains to the people of God. The chaplains and missionaries will have many seals to their ministry. Oh! how joyful to think [339] of being the honored instruments of bringing brave souls in the tented field to enlist under the banner of the Captain of our salvation.

Since I last wrote to you I have witnessed much suffering in the army. The terrible fight at Chickamauga sent many to their long homes, and made cripples for life of hundreds who were not mortally wounded; but, my dear brother, to witness the dying triumph of a Christian soldier gives one a more exalted appreciation of our holy Christianity.

Near the close of autumn (November 24-25) the battle of Missionary Ridge, so disastrous to the Confederates, was fought. The army of Gen. Bragg had been greatly reduced in numbers by sickness and by the withdrawal of Longstreet's corps to East Tennessee. Gen. Wheeler was also absent with nearly all our cavalry. The army was left with little more than one-third the strength it had at Chickamauga. The Federals first assaulted and carried the strong position on Lookout mountain. They next massed heavy columns against Missionary Ridge, and after a desperate resistance the Confederates gave way and the whole army began to retreat.

The Rev. C. W. Miller gives a vivid description of the battle on the Ridge:

Wednesday morning, November 25, dawned brightly, and at 7 o'clock the decisive struggle commenced for the possession of Missionary Ridge. The bleeding remnant of Walthall's and Moor's brigades had reached the shelter of our last defensive position; Breckinridge's corps was placed on the left, and Hardee's on the right, along the summit of the Ridge; a breastwork of logs and earth had been hastily constructed Tuesday night on the top. The work of death began. The battle rolled refluent tides along the rocky summit until it seemed to quake beneath the tread of the god of war. Victory everywhere spread her wings over our banners, and a mutilated foe staggered beneath the death-dealing volleys [340] until about half-past 3 P. M. At that time the enemy, rendered bestial by intoxicating drink, charged up the steeps of Missionary Ridge, and gained a position on its summit from which they could not be dislodged. This disaster was incurred in the following manner: The regiments occupying the fortifications along the tops of the Ridge were divided, and one-half of each one placed at the base of the mountain, next the valley of Chattanooga. When the abolitionists advanced, those at the base, according to orders, delivered their fire and retreated up the mountain. The enemy, as could easily have been foreseen, charged up immediately in the rear of these retreating forces, thereby placing our own men as a sure protection between themselves and our guns in the entrenchment above. In this way they reached the summit of the Ridge held by a brigade, which did not wait to discharge their pieces, but fled, leaving the foe in undisputed possession of a large portion of that part of the Ridge occupied by our left. Thus Cobb's famous battery was lost, not however until their ammunition was expended.

Night now put an end to the struggle, and soon the rush of wagons, the long line of retreating infantry, and squads of panic-stricken stragglers, told too plainly to be misunderstood the sad truth that the whole army was retreating from the strongest natural position in the Confederacy.

Lewis' brigade of brave Kentuckians was ordered to cover the retreat, and nobly did they discharge their duty. About one corps of the foe pursued us as far as Ringgold, where, being infatuated by his fancied success, and supposing that we were routed and demoralized, they fell into a seemingly planned ambuscade, which uncovered itself upon their flanks and front. Their entire first line of battle was subjected to an enfilading and cross fire which sent whole companies reeling and staggering in death. We captured 500 of them, [341] and so completely crushed the bead of their advancing column as to effectually end the pursuit.

After reaching a safe position, General Bragg, at his own request, was relieved of the chief command, and General Hardee placed at the head of the Army of Tennessee. Winter quarters were fixed at Dalton, Ga., and the most vigorous measures were adopted to refit and reorganize the shattered forces of the South.

It is difficult for any one who was not in the army to conceive of the circumstances under which our devout soldiers often worshiped God. During a seven-days' bombardment of Jackson, Miss., a scene occurred that shows with what a calm faith men worship God in the midst of danger and death. All day long a storm of shot and shell had rained upon the city. “As the night shades were covering the wounded, dying, and dead,” writes an officer of the 26th South Carolina, General Evans' brigade, “our zealous and beloved chaplain. Rev. W. S. Black, of the South Carolina Conference, gave notice to the different commanders of companies that he would like to have a word of prayer with and for them, indicating the centre of the line as the most suitable place. It would have made your heart glad to see those brave and half-starved soldiers (who had had but one meal a day for several days, and at this time were breaking their fast for the first time that day,) throwing down their victuals and flocking to the indicated spot. The Chaplain gave out his hymn, and then officers and men united in singing the praises of God. Oh! how we felt to praise and adore Him who had been our preserver through the storms of the day; and when it was said ‘Let us pray,’ I imagine that I (with many others) had never more cheerfully humbled ourselves in the dust, and lifted our hearts to God in believing prayer. It seemed to be (of all others) the time to pray! The missiles of death, the music of the distant cannon, and the sharp, cracking sound of the sharpshooters' guns, were [342] in striking contrast with the hallelujahs and praises of that devoted band of Christian soldiers. At such a sight angels might gaze with astonishment and admiration. Our blessed Saviour, whose ear is always open to the plaintive cry, drew near and comforted our hearts. Some of us felt that all would be well both in life and death.”

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
November 25th (2)
September 20th (2)
September (2)
1863 AD (1)
1861 AD (1)
1857 AD (1)
1849 AD (1)
November 24th (1)
September 19th (1)
March (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: