Baptists and the American Civil War: November 21, 1861

Alabama Map 1860sIn the South, state Baptist convention meetings, this year characterized by expressions of Confederate nationalism, generate news coverage for weeks beyond state boundaries, in news periodicals religious and secular. Today’s Richmond (VA) Daily Dispatch offers a spirited summary of the patriotism of Alabama Baptist leaders as voiced in the recent state meeting of Alabama Baptists.

Following a reprinting of resolutions passed at the Alabama Baptist conference voicing support of Virginia Baptists’ colportage efforts among Confederate soldiers, the Dispatch reports the following:

Dr. Manly advocated these resolutions in a speech of fervid and over powering eloquence. He said that for years he had been watching the Colportage operations of the Virginia brethren and had often been filled with amazement at the results The movement in that State has not only excited the admiration of the denomination throughout the South, but has made an impression on the religious world. Even in the Sandwich Islands its effects have been felt. For a published report of a Colporteur in the Virginia mountains was read in a chapel in one of these islands to a congregation which had just been converted from heathenism and a collection was made for this cause. Dr. Manly felt thankful that our brave men had, in the Providence of God, been placed in the only State in which this work had proven a success, so that now we have some fifty trained Colporteurs in the various Virginia encampments. Had our soldiers been congregated in any other State there would be no trained Colporteurs to go among them, for so far as he knew, no evangelical denomination in the Gulf States had been able to organize and sustain a system of Colportage.

Dr. Manly spoke in glowing terms of the success which had attended such labors among the soldiers. Though for forty years he had been in the ministry, he had never witnessed such an eagerness to receive religious instruction. In many of the encampments around Montgomery revivals of religion had been enjoyed, and he believed that if the Christians of these Confederate States would arouse themselves to this work there will be such displays of Divine power and goodness among our armies as to astonish even our enemies.

Rev. H. Talbird, D. D., President of Howard College, had for three months been in Virginia as Captain in the service. While there he visited eighteen regiments, and, to his astonishment, he found them schools of morality and virtue. He met with many young men who had been under his instruction in former years, and they assured him that this was true of their companies. Dr. Talbird wanted Alabama to share in the glory of caring for the souls of the brave men in service in Virginia.

Rev. W. H. McIntosh has given his sons, and when they left him he felt more distressed in regard to the spiritual dangers to which they would be exposed than the physical. He thanked God that now the Colportage work was relieving his fears and surrounding his boys by the holy influences of the Gospel.

Rev. S. Henderson, editor of the Southwestern Baptist, felt that to-day Virginia is part and parcel of Alabama, since the flower of this State is there. Everything from the Old Dominion interests us here. Religiously, as well as politically, we have a common cause, and, therefore, with all his heart, he approved of the resolutions.

Judge Watson, President Davis, of the Judson, and others, advocated this important work, after which a collection was taken up, amounting to $485, with $200 worth of books given by the Selma Bible Society, and the funds sent up by several churches for this object makes a contribution of $800, which is doing very well, ‘”all things considered.”’

An important report on the State of the country was read on which the goodness of God is in the states is gratefully acknowledg edged and the determination expressed to maintain our position at all hazards. Rev. Dr. Manly said that the strong and decided position which this Convention had taken a year ago in behalf of secession had carried the State. This had been declared by Congressmen from various districts of Alabama, and Gov Moore had frequently referred to the action of this body as having turned the tide and secured the triumph of the Secession party.–After Dr. Manly’s address the vote was taken, when every man, every woman, and every child stood up to testify their determination to sustain their own ‘sunny South.’

Source: “Alabama Baptist State Convention–important resolutions– Collections for army Colportage, &c., &c.,” Richmond Daily Dispatch, November 21, 1861 (link)