Baptists and the American Civil War: January 22, 1862

Union naval blockade of New Orleans, 1862

Union naval blockade of New Orleans, 1862

The war time years temporarily alter the trajectory of the Baptist press. The Baptist press of the South, represented by state and regional newspapers, routinely report on war-related news from other states within the Confederacy. Prior to and after the war, this seeming fascination with tidbits of secular news from the Confederacy is unmatched. A pervading sense of Christian nationalism within the Confederacy and among Southern Baptists may partly explain this phenomenon. Since the Confederacy is God’s chosen nation, in effect, any news related to the state of the nation is, in some sense, a reflection upon God’s kingdom work in the South. Hence, the language of providence and a pervasive belief in southern victory are voiced not only within religious circles, but permeate much of the Confederacy itself.

Today, North Carolina Baptists learn of “The Feeling of the People of New Orleans” in the face of the growing Union naval presence and blockade:

While there are rumors of impending conflicts on our borders; and large invasions by our coast, our people seem to be wonderfully easy, and composed. There appears to be a general trust in an overruling Providence, and strong faith that He will protect and preserve us from the attacks of our foes. Nothing daunts us while impressed with this belief. Every citizen apparently shoulders his musket with cheerfulness, and holds himself in readiness to defend his rights, his altar and his home. To see how numerous are the volunteer companies in this city, and how throughly they have drilled themselves, would satisfy almost any one that our people here are determined

To be certain, battlefield momentum currently remains with the Confederacy. The blockade of the Confederate coastline by the Union Navy, however, has already led to an economic crisis that will only grow much worse. And within less than four months, federal forces will occupy New Orleans without resistance, making God’s providence all the more murky in the minds of many southerners.

Source: Biblical Recorder, January 22, 1862 (link); image of Union blockade (link)