Baptists and the American Civil War: August 31, 1863

gettysburg_deadGettysburg has a long reach upon the South. Devastating was the battlefield defeat two months ago, while the emotional loss is lived again and again as news of the deaths of soldier sons, husbands and fathers daily afflicts distraught families.

Many of the deceased Confederate soldiers from the Battle of Gettysburg were Baptists. In today’s Fayetteville Observer (NC), the obituaries include a tribute to a 21-year old Baptist who died during the battle. The tribute is written by the young man’s sister.

Died, on the 2nd July from a wound received the 1st July, in the battle at Gettysburg, Pa., A.F. Muse, of Moore, N.C., a private in Company H, 26th Regiment N.C.T., son of Jesse Muse, Esq., aged 21 years, 6 months and 4 days. He was of moral character; he was a dutiful son and a kind brother. He embraced religion in the 17th year of his age and was baptized in the fellowship of the Baptist Church at Bethlehem; he was of uncommon zeal to the cause of Christ; he spent his whole time while out of school, warning sinners to repent and flee the wrath to come. He was a student in the Academy at Jackson Springs. He was in feeble health but notwithstanding, he returned home and laid aside his books and volunteered in April, 1862, in defense of his country. He fought through the battles around Richmond and in eastern North Carolina; he endured many fatiguing marches; he would often be seen after a battle on his knees praying for the wounded and pointing them to the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world; he would always remark in his letters to his parents that if he fell in the midst of the enemy not to grieve for him for he put his hope and trust in God; when He sees fit to call, I am ready to go. In the first charge at Gettysburg, he received his death wound on the second day in the evening. He called a friend to sit down by him; he said I am going to die and I want you to promise me to write my father and tell him I was wounded mortally in the Battle of Gettysburg, while fighting for the independence of my home and country and I die near the battlefield, tell him I am not afraid to die, for all is well with me. None knew him but to love him. And although he fills a soldier’s grave upon the far distant plains of Gettysburg, his friends will never cease to remember with affectionate tenderness his many virtues. Peace to the ashes of a noble brother.

Farewell, dear brother, we part a while,
By death’s cold hand we sever,
But not without the blessed hope,
You are safe in Christ forever.

Far away from home he died,
In manhood’s bright and early bloom;
He was the idol of our hearts
While away and while at home.

Sister M.J.M.

Source: Fayetteville Observer, August 31, 1863, obituaries (link)