Baptists and the American Civil War: February 18, 1863

North Carolina MapFrom North Carolina’s 56th Regiment, a Baptist Confederate soldier writes of his unit’s recent movements and the challenges of reaching his fellow soldiers for Christ. His letter is published in today’s North Carolina Biblical Recorder.

Dear Bro. Hufham:–Though I am unaccustomed to writing for publication, I will solicit a small space in your columns, believing that those who may have friends and relations in the 56th Regiment, will be interested in hearing where we are and what is our condition, even though we should have no stirring exploits, brilliant victories or miraculous escapes to narrate.

We are now encamped in Kenansville, the county site of Duplin, a region, which, as you know, is not the most desirable one in the world for “the dwellers in tents,” especially at this season of the year. We are surrounded by swamps and branches; the water is not very good; and it is not easy to get wood. But our own location is so much better than that of many other regiments, that we submit to our inconveniences as cheerfully as possible.

We arrived here in the 22nd of January, having left our tents at Rocky Mount, our former place of encamplment: and we are now exposed to the tender mercies of the weather, which for some time past, has been only less cruel than the Yankees. On Monday night we were visited by a severe snow storm, quite a different thing to the tentless soldier from what it is to those who are comfortably sheltered at home, and this was followed by several days of incessant rain. The changeful skies have now assured a more pleasant aspect, however, and we are once more basking in the glorious sunshine.

Since we came to this place, we have been attached to Ransom’s Brigade, which is composed of the 24th, 25th, 35th, 49th and 56th regiments. The health of the 56th is excellent–as good as it has ever been since we were organized. I think this is attributable, in a great degree, to the manner in which we have been cared for. There is hardly a regiment in the service that has been better provided for than ours. Our beloved Colonel believes in clothing and feeding his men, and expects them to work, when the time for work comes.

I regret that I can not write as cheerfully and hopefully about our spiritual condition and prospects. We have had no Chaplain, since the resignation of Rev. Mr. Wilson, which took place in November. Family afflictions rendered it necessary for him to leave us, and since that time we have been like sheep without a shepherd. He seemed to be deeply interested in our spiritual welfare while he was with us, and, in his parting address, promised to use his influence to secure us another. I wish very much that some one could be appointed in his place; for we sadly need the services of a faithful minister at this time. Swearing and card playing are epidemics in the camp, when the men are off duty. The sad spectacle of men playing cards, even on the Sabbath, is not uncommon. But a few minutes ago, I passed a group of men thus engaged, and when I expostulated with them, they replied, “It is no harm to play for amusement.” It grieves me to state these things, but it is perhaps well for our friends at home to know the truth, as they may thus be induced to increase their efforts and contributions, and be more earnest in their prayers for the spiritual welfare of the soldiers.


Source: Biblical Recorder, February 18, 1863 (link)