Baptists and the American Civil War: July 24, 1862

This week’s Georgia Baptist Christian Index publishes a letter from Southern Baptist Army Chaplain D. G. Daniell, who writes from Camp Causton Bluff near Savannah.

….I may mention the interest which the men manifest in religious newspapers, some thirty copies of which are circulated among them weekly, with the injunction to read and pass them on. The avidity with which they are received reveals the importance of this form of effort, and I purpose, if I can raise the money, to double the number of copies for the quarter next after the expiration of the present subscription. A lieutenant, who is not a church member, seeing the interest which the men took in the papers, voluntarily offered to contribute in support of the movement. On being told that the matter was arranged for three months he begged me to call on him when I wished to renew. Tracts also are distributed almost daily, but more sparingly of late because my stock is running down. These are received readily and often with thanks, but we need new ones. We have four regular services at headquarters in each week, unless the weather prevent, and some extra services; and at points where detachments from the regiment are stationed, one or two other services weekly. What are, or will be the effect of these efforts upon the spiritual interests of the men is in the hand of God and known only to Him. This much can be safely said: a more quiet assembly of the same size was scarcely ever formed than our regiment. I have reasons to think that a few conversations have occurred in the regiment. I think I can see that affliction in some instances, has been sanctified. The religious element of the regiment is being drawn out, and is coming to my support. We have three preachers in camp–two Baptists and one Methodist–who afford me gratifying co-operation….

In the months and years ahead, editors and contributors to Southern Baptist newspapers will disagree vividly on the religious scene, or lack thereof, in army camp life. For now, Chaplain Daniell offers hope that God is moving among Confederate soldiers.

Source: D. G. Daniell, “Letter From a Chaplain,” Christian Index, July 22, 1862