Baptists and the American Civil War: August 14, 1863

Map of Virginia 1860sThe Albemarle Baptist Association of Virginia meets this week at Adiel Baptist Church in Nelson County. A correspondent from the Richmond Daily Dispatch reports on the meeting and Nelson County.

The story, apparently composed by a reporter who has not previously attended such meetings, mentions an aspect of associational meetings not reported in official minutes (food!), in addition to coverage of Confederate loyalty resolutions and the presence of wounded soldiers.

Nelson Co., Va., Aug. 14.

I have just attended the meeting of the Albemarle Association, held at Adiel Church, Nelson, county. This body is composed of representatives from the Baptist Churches in the counties of Augusta, Albemarle, Nelson, Amherst, and Fluvanna. The meeting was well attended. Rev. Wm. F. Broaddus, D. D., was elected Moderator. The introductory sermon was delivered by Rev. John E. Massey. Among the visitors I noticed the venerable Margrave, of Greenbrier. A report on Army Colportage was presented by Rev. Geo. B. Taylor, and addresses on the subject were delivered by Revs, J. L. Johnson and William Huff, and a cash collection of two thousand dollars was taken up for the object. Collections amounting to fifteen hundred dollars were also taken for Domestic Missions, and for the Sunday School Board at Greenville, S. C., lately created by the Southern Baptist Convention. Resolutions were adopted on the state of the country. One resolution expressed unabated confidence in our cause; another called on the people to respond to the call of the President, and use every means to induce recreant soldiers to return to duty; a third expressed confidence in Confederate credit, and denounced the very idea of repudiation; while a fourth requested a general observance of the day of prayer appointed by the President. The next session of the body will be held at Fork Church, Fluvanna, and the introductory sermon will be by Rev. Dr. Broaddus, or Rev. Geo. B. Taylor, alternate.

It was really refreshing to see and partake of the abundant good cheer provided at this Association. After having been for months either in the city or in army, I felt myself in a new world, and strangely reminded of good old times to see the people gathering around the long table, piled up with ham and shoat, and fried chicken, and pies, and cake, peaches, apples and offer delicacies of the season. For the frequent appearance of a one-legged or one-armed soldier, one might really have forgotten for a season the existence of the war. I could not help thinking it would be a good idea for the denizens of our cities, who cannot take their usual summer trips, to attend some such meetings as the one I have referred to. I am sure they would return greatly refreshed, having secured cheap enjoyment. By the way, have not the other denominations any convocations similar to a Baptist Association?

I was gratified at the indications of prosperity in Nelson. The corn is splendid, and is regarded as made, while many of the large orchards with which the county abounds are loaded with apples.

Nelson is to me an interesting and peculiar county. In Piedmont, and lying between two of our greatest railroads, it contains features which remind one of the extreme western part of the State. I spent one night at a hospitable mansion on the headwaters of Rockfish, just under the Blue Ridge, where, by the way, I had the pleasure of meeting with Hon. Mr. Hawes Governor of Kentucky. My worthy host told me that there was a road running through the county, and across the mountain, which for years had been considered unsafe for travelers, several robberies and murders having been committed on its solitudes. At this time, he said, the mountain region through which it passed is filled with deserters, who occasionally come down and steal the means of subsistence. It is believed that many are making their way, on the mountain, to their distant homes in the Carolinas. I have heard of many a romantic journey, but I think that of a lone deserter making the Blue Ridge his highway for hundreds of miles might furnish a chapter for a novel. The region occupied by deserters, I believe, extends into Augusta county, and into a part where it is said they are harbored by a low, disloyal community. Would it not be well for the authorities to have an eye to this thing? After a prolonged conversation with my host I retired to my couch, free from mosquitoes, sweetly fanned by the mountain breeze, and was lulled to rest by the babbling of the river. In the small hours of the night I was awakened by a shrill, clear blast of a horn, which was echoed till it seemed like a hundred horns. It may have been a summons to the field hands on some farm, but I could not help connecting it with what I had been listening to, and being filled with the most romantic thoughts, and there is no telling what might have been the result had I been the author of Waverly, instead of simply your humble and most sleepy correspondent.

Source: Massanutten, “Religious intelligence — deserters, &c.,” Richmond Daily Dispatch, August 18, 1863 (link)