Published in this week’s North Carolina Baptist Biblical Recorder is the testimony of a Confederate soldier, a testimony that reflects common evangelistic language and imagery among Baptists of the South.
I belonged to a Virginia regiment, engaged in active service, in the mountains, far away from friends and home. I was surrounded by wicked and thoughtless companions, who spent their time in gaming, drinking and frivolous conversations. I had, in bygone years, been impressed with the necessity and importance of religion, but all my serious impressions were gone, and I was now ashamed to acknowledge they had ever existed. Early Sabbath morning I was sent out with a scouting party many miles from camp, an ere we were aware of their approach, we were surrounded by a large body of Federal soldiers. A desperate battle ensued, during which I was cut off from my comrades, and badly wounded in my hip. I concealed myself under a rock, and there lay for several hours meditating upon my sad and hapless fate. Wearied and exhausted by the loss of blood, I fell asleep and soon was in the land of dreams.
I thought myself again at my humble home in the East. But to my sorrow and inexpressible grief, my dear Mother, during my absence, had been taken sick, and after a few days illness, had died. My only sister and two little brothers were left alone, in the care of two faithful old negroes, and all were clothed in mourning. My sister told me that Mother spent her last moments about, and praying for me. She said, that our dear Mother told her to tell me, should I ever live to reach home, “that all of us were poor sinners and rebels against God.–that we were justly condemned to die, for we had sinned, against our Heavenly Father, who was our constant friend, and benefactor and had never done us injury. But on the other hand had given his son Jesus Christ to die, that we might be justified, pardoned and saved. And if I would only believe that God would save me for his Son’s sake, and would love that Son, that God would love me, forgive all my sins, make me happy, and though I would never again see her face on earth, I would meet her in Heaven.”
I was so affected by this narrative that I awoke, sobbing like a child, and the first expression which burst from my full heart was: “Oh! God give me faith in thy promises, love for thy dear Son, and an obedient heart, that I may meet Thee, and my dear Mother in Heaven.” I felt at once that I was willing to give up all the world for the love of God–that I could trust him and serve him forever. My heart was light, I saw God reconciled through his Son, and was so happy. I hobbled away to the distant camp. I told my comrades what the Lord had done for me, and many a hardened sinner wept, and gave his heart to Christ as we made the Western mountains ring with shouts of joy to God.
Source: “A Soldier’s Dream,” Biblical Recorder, June 4, 1862 (link)