Baptists and the American Civil War: April 20, 1861

Texas Map 1861The fallout in Virginia continues as Robert E. Lee resigns his commission with the U. S. Army in order to fight on behalf of his native state. Lee writes to General Winfield Scott, his friend and mentor:

Arlington, Washington City P.O.
April 20, 1861


Since my interview with you on the 18th instant I have felt that I ought not longer to retain my commission in the Army. I therefore tender my resignation, which I request you will recommend for acceptance.

It would have been presented at once, but for the struggle it has cost me to separate myself from a service to which I have devoted all the best years of my life & all the ability I possessed.

During the whole of that time, more than 30 years, I have experienced nothing but kindness from my superiors, & the most cordial friendship from my companions. To no one Genl have I been as much indebted as to yourself for uniform kindness & consideration, & it has always been my ardent desire to merit your approbation.

I shall carry with me to the grave the most grateful recollections of your kind consideration, & your name & fame will always be dear to me. Save in the defence of my native State, I never desire again to draw my sword.

Be pleased to accept my most earnest wishes for the continuance of your happiness & prosperity & believe me most truly yours

R. E. Lee

Two days hence, Lee is appointed commander of Virginia’s forces and bestowed with the rank of major general. The following months he spends raising troops and attempting (unsuccessfully) to appease Union sentiment in the mountainous western region of the state.

Meanwhile, throughout the South men are joining military companies. In many instances, numerous family members enroll in the army. In Jefferson County, Texas, Baptist brothers John and Bradley Johnson muster into the Sabine Pass Guards as privates. On August 3, father Benjamin joins his sons, serving in the Ben McCulloch Calvary. The Johnson family is one of many Baptist families in the South who send multiple men to the battlefront.

Source: Lee letter and early days of service in the Confederate Army (link and link); Johnson family (link)