Baptists and the American Civil War: January 5, 1863

Civil War States MapThe new year continues to go badly for the Confederacy. Murfressboro, Tennessee is now occupied by federal troops. Meanwhile, Nashville, Tennessee has been occupied by Union forces since February 24. Today, the United States military confiscates the city’s First Baptist Church for use as a hospital. Church pews and other furniture are removed. Soon, other furnishings, including the baptistery, are destroyed. The building is used by federal troops for the remainder of the war, after which the remaining members attempt, unsuccessfully, to repair the building. Eventually, a new FBC building is completed in a new location in 1883.

In Richmond, Confederate President Jefferson Davis gives a speech in which he does not mention the Emancipation Proclamation. Instead, he puts the best face on the situation, declaring the Confederacy to be “the last hope, as I believe, for the perpetuation of that system of government which our forefathers founded–the asylum of the oppressed and the home of true representative liberty.” The United States he calls demonic, and he (inaccurately) claims victory at the now-ended Battle of Murfreesboro / Stones River.

Today’s events portend the year ahead: slow but steady military victories and advances by United States military forces, over against the dogged determination of white Confederates to defend the Southern system of white supremacy and African slavery (the latter now legally abolished by the United States) as that of true “liberty.”

Sources: Nashville Dispatch, January 6, 8, and 10, 1863 (link); Joe Early Jr., “Tennessee Baptists and the Civil War,” Tennessee Baptist Historical Society Journal, 2006, pp. 12-13 (link); “Address to the People of the Free States, by the President of the Southern Confederacy,” January 5, 1863 (link)