Baptists and the American Civil War: November 3, 1861

Confederate WomenThis week’s Tennessee Baptist, reprinting a story from the Richmond Daily Dispatch, sings the praises of patriotic southern women:

The regular correspondent of the Richmond Dispatch, writing from Halifax Court House, remarks on the spirit of patriotism that so generally pervades the gentler sex and furnishes the following in illustration:

I was much amused at an old lady a few miles below this place, who evidently kept a sharp look out on all strangers who might prove emissaries of the Round-heads. The locality, for convenience sake, may be called Bristow. Scene—the parlor of a hotel. Dramatis personae—party of gentlemen conversing in one corner; ladies in the other, who continually cast side glances at a newspaper reporter who is writing out his notes at the centre-table. Act 1st.—Reporter oblivious to all about him. Old lady walks back and forward, casting sundry glances on the strange hieroglyphics. Gents still conversing. Old lady whispers significantly to her companions, when the party put their heads together and converse in an undertone. Reporter still oblivious. Finally, the work is completed, the notes go into a side pocket, the book is folded, pen wiped, and inkstand put away. Reporter prepares to leave the room by side entrance, but is intercepted by old lady, in behalf of community.

Old Lady.—”Have you been taken down what we’ve been saying?”

Reporter.—”Certainly not, madam.” (Aside) “what an old” _____.

Old Lady (interrupting).—”Well then, mister, be you a spy or anything?”

Reporter very suddenly subsides, but immediately draws sundry papers containing his record, which he spreads upon the table. To make matters still stronger, he claims relationship with Jeff. Davis, known Aleck Stephens from his boyhood, went to school with Beauregard, was by Johnson’s side at the taking of Chepultepec, and fought in the battle of Bull Run. Smiles of satisfaction gradually creep over all faces. Play concludes by finding all parties satisfied, old lady having introduced pretty black-eyed daughter to the roving Bohemian and suspected spy.

“Roundheads” is an old, pejorative term dating from the English Civil War. Here it is applied to the Northern enemy. Many Baptist newspapers in the South during the Civil War years routinely republish secular news stories as selected by editors. Hence, the Baptist news press of the South assumes a role of channeling select news from southern secular papers to their readers, ministers and laity alike.

Source: Tennessee Baptist, November 2, 1861 (link); illustration (link)