Baptists and the American Civil War: March 3, 1862

North Carolina MapIn these early months of 1862, Confederate soldiers and other observers of Confederate army camp life (including chaplains, missionaries and local citizens) routinely write letters for publication in Southern Baptist news publications. There is typically a lag time of one to three weeks (or more) between the writing of the letters and publication in newspapers. This month, a number of February-penned “Army Correspondence” (a term frequently used in Baptist news publications of the South) letters are published in print. Two such letters offer reflections of camp life observers in the late-winter months of a war that is almost one-year old.

From Camp Gatlin in North Carolina, “Khan” offers reflections of recent Confederate setbacks:

Reliable information confirms the rumors that our arms have recently sustained two disastrous defeats, one at Roanoke, the other at Fort Donelson. Again we are called upon to mourn the loss of dear friends, who have nobly sacrificed their lives on the altar of our country. While we mourn the loss of friends and regret the reverses to our arms, we can console ourselves with the reflection that they were victories dearly bought, and if properly managed by the Confederate authorities, will not result in great advantage to the enemy. Already has the tide begun to change in eastern Carolina. Our citizens and soldiers are becoming more fully aroused, and steps are being taken which will effectually retard the progress of our foe, and, under God’s direction, will drive the invaders from our soil.

From Camp Lee, North Carolina Baptist Chaplain A. L. Stough of the 37th N.C. Regiment reports:

The efforts that are now being made by the friends of the soldiers to give circulation of the Bible among them, are worthy of all praise, and should receive every possible degree of encouragement. The enterprise is glorious in its origin, and must be glorious in its results. The interests of our country, the happiness of our families, the preservation of true religion, require alike our exertions in supplying the destitute with the Gospel of the Son of God. Then let all proper means be adopted to supply every one with a copy of the Bible that is destitute of the word of God.

I feel thankful to the great and kind Disposer of all events, that I am permitted to proclaim the word of life to the soldiers. I do not think I ever felt more deeply my christian privileges than while I am laboring for those among whom are to be found some of the noblest spirits of the land, men who, if converted, would be ornaments in the kingdom of Christ.

Hope thus remains undaunted among white Baptists of the Confederate States of America.

Sources: “Army Correspondence,” Biblical Recorder, March 3, 1862 (link); see also J. B. Alexander, The History of Mecklenburg County, p. 277 (link)