Talks of revivals within the Confederate Army increasingly occupy space in Baptist newspapers of the South. The influence and work of faithful chaplains is said to be aiding the spread of revival fires.
Or is this so? Alex Morgan, the Assistant Surgeon of the First Georgia Regiment, currently stationed at Camp Cumming near Mobile, Alabama, offers his own first-hand perspective on the subject of army chaplains.
“Camp Cumming.” Mobile, Ala. Feby 28, 1863.
My Dear Wife
Saturday night has come again my regular time to answer your letter, but it has not come. no word from you since the half sheet of Jany 30. but I know it is not your fault. So I wont let it be mine if you miss your next regular time. I reckon it is some trouble to get the mail over the River now. There is no passing now at Vicksburg. I hope the interuption wont be very long. It is said that we have two of the Yankee gun boats the Queen of the West + the Indianola recently captured, + have controll of the River from Vicksburg to Port Hudson. The last few walks have been terribly wet in a great many places + the roads are almost impassable. I am tired of winter, with its cold wet days + long nights. I long for Summer when I can spread my blanket under a tree + lie down + sleep like I did last summer at Tupelo. There we had no mosquitoes or sand flies. I am afraid they will worry us if we should have to spend the summer here. I try to hope the war will be over before the hot weather sets in.
There is an ignorant conceited old Baptist brother who acts as Chaplain to the Battalion. He rants + foams + murders grammar at a terrible rate every Sunday.
In one respect I dont like our present Camp as well as the first one. We are four miles from the City. Most too far for Church + I dont go so often There is an ignorant conceited old Baptist brother who acts as Chaplain to the Battalion. He rants + foams + murders grammar at a terrible rate every Sunday. He has the characteristic unctions, [?] appearance, manners + language that I admired so much in the association that dined at your Fathers soon after we were married. He is a good meaning old man though + I have no doubt Suits the congregation much better than such a man as Stillman would.
I am the only man in the Battalion, who does not think it a great misfortune to be “born’d” out of Georgia. From the Col down, with one or two exceptions. They are as vain + conceited about Georgia as the Specimens we had about Marshall when we left there. I would enjoy it much better if I had some one to laugh with me. It wont do to carry a joke far enough to make an enemy. Old Bro Oldham is a Colporteur as well as Chaplain + occupies part of his time distributing tracks + little religious books among the boys. Somehow he has not taken a fancy to me. he mere offers me a tract + I treat him as politely as possible on your account. Do you know Fanny dear that I have come to believe this Chaplain business is rather a humbug. I dont think they earn their $50 a month. on an average there are not more than one third of the men who attend preaching. I think there are very few talented preachers in the field. I have not heard one yet. We read of some men in the old war, who would Soldier it all week in the ranks, + on Sunday get up on a log or stump + preach powerful sermons. I would like to meet one of these. We need some of that sort in our army for I tell you we are a desperately wicked Set. –
In the way of news this week I am very dull I have been rather busy + have not been out. About one week in the month I am busy writing. At the end of each month we make out what is called a monthly Report, giving a full account of all the sick for that month, no of cases, the diease, deaths furloughs discharges +c. We draw our supplies of Medicine monthly + the requisitions have to be made in duplicate, + presented on the first day of each month, + there is a particular form for every thing. These forms bothered me a good deal at first till I got the hang of them. So you see the last week in each month is rather a busy one. I have no news since my last from Joe or Spoon at Pollard. They have a new Brig Genl there now + I hear to day that he thinks he can drive the Yanks away from Pensacola, so there is a chance for the boys to see a little service soon. A young man just from Eutaw ate dinner with me day before yesterday + reported all well there. Enoch had left for Wheelers Cavalry. He will have a lively time. They will work some of the lazy out of the old fellow. I would rather be in any other arm of the service, it is the hardest and roughest. We have not a word of war news of any kind. No fighting any where. You did right to pay the “Mercury” Man’s bill. I intended to settle with him when I was in Charleston but was in such a hurry I forgot it, I would send you the Mobile paper but you would get it very irregularly. You dont mention much Peter. What is he doing? Remember me kindly to Ma + Maj + all the rest. Take good care of yourself + the children + believe me your affct Alex,
Source: “Believe Me Your Own: Letters from the Battlefield to Fanny from Alex,” February 28, 1862 (link)