Baptists and the American Civil War: February 11, 1863

Samuel Boykin

Samuel Boykin

This week Samuel Boykin, editor of Georgia Baptists’ Christian Index, speaks harshly of the growing problem of Confederate Army deserters.

The evil of straggling from our army has reached such a magnitude, that it becomes us all to cry out against it and as far as possible to abate it. Each community should hunt up the fugitives in its neighborhood and hurry them off to their respective commands with all possible dispatch; every woman should force upon the man who is unnecessarily absenting himself from the army; and every citizen, moved by the pressing danger to our Confederacy, should use his utmost endeavors to return to the ranks every skulker now off duty. For the benefit of the straggler himself should this be done, as well as for the public good; for as deserters, it may be that soon all stragglers, when caught will be shot.

Like a good preacher, Boykin also admonishes “moral” stragglers– Christians “whose heart-devotion to their Savior has waned.” Frequently during these years of war, the very language of warfare is appropriated by some Southern Baptist writers and leaders to apply to the Christian’s personal salvation. As such, the task at hand is two-fold: physical defeat of the United States and spiritual defeat of Christian apathy are the keys to God’s Kingdom emerging victorious.

Source: “Straggling,” Christian Index, February 9, 1863