Baptists and the American Civil War: February 19, 1862

J. D. HufhamThe fortunes of the Confederate States are temporarily reversed, but J. D. Hufham assures his readers that God will crown the South with victory if white southerners will but be faithful to him and utilize the weapons he has placed in their hands:

The condition of the South has never been more startling than it is at present. — For some time past, a vigor and forecast hitherto have marked the plans of our enemies, and a series of victories has given them a temporary vantage ground, which may well cause serious apprehensions in the minds of Southern patriots.

We had scarcely received the details of the defeat of our forces at Somerset, when the news came that Fort Henry had fallen… Following rapidly in the train of these disasters came the capture of Roanoke Island with all our forces stationed there and the placing of most of the North Eastern counties at the mercy of the Enemy.

The safety of Norfolk, Savannah, and Nashville, and the communication between Richmond and the South and South west are now threatened. The enemy are pushing forward, and should their manifest designs be successful, much suffering on the part of many sections of our country must ensue, and the struggle in which we are now engaged, must be greatly protracted.

These things should not discourage us, but they clearly call for increased vigilance and for promptness and energy in action…. let us hope that [Southerners] will now feel the importance of the crisis, realize the… dangers which threaten us and act accordingly. For some time past, the people and the government alike have seemed to possess a confidence which the condition of affairs did not warrant, and there has been a relaxation of the vigilance and energy which marked the earlier stages of the war….

Let us hope, that, from this time, there will be a change for the better. If there is not we shall tremble for the future. We believe that truth and right and justice and God are on our side, but fighting in such a sacred cause as this, we can not hope for success, unless we use the legitimate ends for its attainment. We can not expect God to crown us with victory, if we are careless and indolent, and forgetful of Him. It is only when we acknowledge and realize our dependence on him, and make faithful use of the means of defense which he has placed in our hands, that we can over come our loss. If we do this for the future, we may expect success; otherwise we may look for the mortification and humiliation of defeat.

Let none be discouraged or cast down.–The cause in which we are engaged is too sacred and the rights and interests, for which we contend, too great for us to think for one moment of giving up the struggle. We have made many sacrifices, and many sections of our country have endured great privations and sufferings, but the cause in which we are engaged is worth them all.–No freeman will wish to outlive the honor and independence of his country. Then let all appreciate the importance of the crisis; let them work together, work in earnest, work patiently and hopefully, and the tide of invasion will be rolled back and independence and peace will in the end crown our efforts.

Nashville is destined to fall a week from now, while the war will drag on for over three more years. Baptist pronouncements — such as Hufham’s to North Carolina Baptists — that faithfulness to God will produce Southern victory will be voiced countless times — in newspapers, sermons, journals, speeches and everyday conversation — throughout the war years.

Source: “The Demands of the Times,” Biblical Recorder, February 18, 1862 (link)