The Southern Baptist Convention is now in its third day of meetings. The battlefields are distant, but as in the previous two days, the war remains uppermost on the minds of the Southern Baptist divines who today, a Sunday, fill pulpits throughout the city of Augusta.
Unbeknownst to these Baptists, Confederate hero Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, having grown increasingly ill after having been accidentally shot by his own men during the recent Battle of Chancellorsville, is on his deathbed. By the end of the day, the news of Jackson’s passing leads to great grieving in Virginia. Within days, the news travels throughout the Confederacy, and the nation mourns over the loss of the daring military commander upon whom many had pinned hopes for a victory over the Union.
To white Christians of the South, Jackson is not only a military hero, but also an exemplary Christian leader. Having attended a Baptist church in his youth, Jackson in adulthood embraced the Presbyterian faith. During the early war years the pious Jackson attended Sunday worship services in the camps and financially supported efforts to supply Christian reading material to his soldiers.
Military and Christian leader, Stonewall Jackson is now dead, leaving army officers and government leaders of the Confederacy to sort out what their military capabilities and prospects look like in the absence of their most successful general.
Sources: “Proceedings of the ninth biennial session, of the Southern Baptist Convention, held in the Green Street Baptist Church, Augusta, Ga., May 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th, 1863” (link); “Thomas J. Stonewall Jackson Dies,” History.com (link)