Baptists and the American Civil War: October 25, 1861

Illinois Map 1861Six months into the war, some Northern Baptist clergy are enlisting in the Union army – not as chaplains, but rather as soldiers. Memories of an earlier generation of Baptists fighting in the Revolutionary War resonate among Civil War-era Baptists.

Among today’s enlistees is Daniel Haskell Burdick, Illinois Baptist minister and farmer. Burdick’s service is relatively short – and tragic. Signing on with Co. B, 52nd Inf., Illinois Volunteers, Burdick is wounded in the Battle of Corinth, fought October 3-4, 1862. The injury is particularly gruesome: his face is shot away, leaving little hope for his survival. Exactly one year after his enlistment, Burdick dies a painful death at a hospital in Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, thus becoming one of hundreds of thousands of northern soldiers whose lives lost collectively contribute to ultimate Union victory.

Also today, the Richmond Daily Dispatch finds it newsworthy to report: of a northern clergyman

Rev. Charles Cook, Baptist clergyman at West Gardiner, Me., has enlisted as a private in the 11th Maine regiment. He is a native of Baltimore, Md., where his friends now reside.

Cook prior to enlisting was the pastor of the First Baptist Church of West Gardiner, Maine, the first church that had been built in that small town. Maine’s 11th Regiment fights in many battles of the Eastern theater, and makes a foray into the deep southeast.

While some Northern Baptist ministers take up arms, some Northern Baptist layman do not fight in the war. Among the latter is J. Hobart Hunting, a farmer and carpenter, of whom it is said:

Born of Puritan stock in both parents, his father a Baptist minister, he has given credit to his ancestry by being a radical in his opposition to slavery, rum, tobacco, secret societies and church gambling, and his children have not degenerated from the old stock.

Sources: Daniel Haskell Burdick (link); Richmond Daily Dispatch, October 25, 1861 (link); Henry D. Kingsbury and Simeon L. Deyo, Illustrated history of Kennebec County, Maine; 1625-1799-1892, Part 2, New York: H. W. Blake, 1892 (link); “J Hobart Hunting” in “Johnson County (Kansas), Part 13” as cited from William G. Cutler’s History of the State of Kansas (link)