Baptists and the American Civil War: September 3, 1862

Today’s North Carolina Baptists’ Biblical Recorder demonstrates solidarity with other white Southern Christians in reprinting a Confederate Presbyterian’s helpful suggestion for the Confederate States of America: “Let our Confederacy Call upon God.”

We are in the very crisis of the war. The present campaign seems to be ours, but the enemy is raising a new army of 600,000 soldiers. The war is also changing from a civilized into a savage one. At the same time intervention by Europe seems not any nearer than before. We must fight still more patiently and bravely than ever. Our women must still persevere in their self-denials and toils. Our Government must call for a wider conscription, and older men and younger boys than heretofore must go forth to swell our armies. But there is one duty of our people higher and more important than all these. It is the duty of calling upon God.

Let our closets witness the sincerity and fervor of our patriotism as we cry individually to God for His blessing on our councils and arms. Let all our assemblies for worship unite to swell the tide of prayers that shall rise to the throne of heaven for this object. But let the Confederacy officially, through its representatives and head, also call upon God. Let the President issue his proclamation again, and set apart a certain day, when as a people we shall once more unitedly invoke God’s blessing upon us.

We have much to be thankful for, as well as much to ask. Since we last acknowledged God publicly and officially as a people, a great and delightful change has taken place in our whole military condition.–Throughout our whole country the signs are now bright and cheering. Let us hasten to make thankful acknowledgments as a people. And then we have the most cheering prospects of abundant harvests, for which our thanksgivings are due to the Almighty.

There is no doubt that we are on the eve of great battles both in Virginia and the West. We have a most gallant army, and have skillful generals. Yet if God Almighty do not grant us the victory we cannot gain it. “The battle is to not the strong.” ‘You may talk (says a Christian soldier in a late Virginia paper) of your science and your generals, but how little does it take to spoil the best plans. The merest waver the smallest trifle, on the one side or the other, may decide the greatest conflict.”

Our President deserves the thanks of the whole people for the readiness he formerly displayed to lead the country in her calls upon God. One journal (the Examiner) at the Confederate capital was impious enough to sneer at all this “praying.” But the sentiment is universal all through these Confederate States that our hope is only in God. We are sure the whole country would consider another such invitation from the President to be very timely.

Southern “people” does not include African slaves, who are busy praying to an altogether different God who is the champion of the lowly, poor, oppressed and enslaved.

Source: “Let our Confederacy Call Upon God,” Biblical Recorder, September 3, 1862, as reprinted from the Southern Presbyterian (link)