Baptists and the American Civil War: February 12, 1863

confederatesoldiersWhat do active Christian men serving in the Confederate Army think of their lives and Christian service while in the ranks? This week’s North Carolina Baptist Biblical Recorder publishes a letter from an anonymous soldier which offers at least one soldier’s devotional thoughts during winter camp.

Some time since a terrible storm swept over the encampment where we had rested from our labors so pleasantly for a few months. The great pines around us were bent, and groaned as they stood up against the strong blasts of that dark night. Here we had fixed around us comforts which are not frequently allowed the soldier. We had almost forgotten the hardships and dangers which the soldier is heir to, as day after day passed away without the forced march, or noise, confusion and death of battle.–Our “bunks” were comfortable, and we slept at night as sweetly as we ever did under the homestead roof. On the night to which I have referred we were thus slumbering, until we were aroused from our dreams by the noise of rain and howling of wind. There was confusion worse confounded. The canvass flutters and flaps around us–the cordage gives way, and rushing affrighted from our cots, we cling to the tent pole that we may steady our frail dwelling already trembling under the terrible storm.

Thus is it in the Christian pilgrimage! We forget that we are strangers sojourning in tents, settle ourselves down in some sweet place by the way-side, and even though we remain in tents, so establish ourselves with worldly comforts that we can no longer be said to accustom ourselves to hardships as good soldiers. But God will not suffer us long thus to pass the days and nights of our pilgrimage. By some act of providence he shakes the flimsy material of our worldy tabernacle; snaps the cords of affection and promise in their foundations the rocks not “higher than we,” yet under which we have endeavored to shelter ourselves, until, in consciousness of our weakness and danger in the darkness of the hour of storm, we rush from our slumbers, cling to the frame work of our building, look up through the gloom and darkness of the night, and raise to Him the cry for help.

The morning which arose upon that night of storm and fear was calm and peaceful–so is the day-dawn upon the Christian night of gloom and trial. Let our lives declare plainly that we are strangers and pilgrims here–that we seek a country.

Source: A Christian Soldier, “Lessons of Camp Life,” Biblical Recorder, February 11, 1863 (link)