Baptists and the American Civil War: October 15, 1863

revivals_confederatesA Confederate chaplain writes in his diary this day.

October 15 – Ten years ago God converted my soul. C. H. Ruffin, of Nash Co., wounded yesterday. Dies in my arms – in perfect peace. Charlie enlisted at 17, and perhaps, was the wildest boy in his Regiment.

        He was very respectful to me, but showed no signs of any care for his soul till April last. About the time I was disappointed in my hopes to go home, he began to seek my company and give good attention to preaching. He became deeply convicted and was happily converted and I took him into the Missionary Baptist Church, and sent his name to the home church the day I started home If I had gone home at the time I first proposed, he might not have been converted. Just before he breathed his last I asked him about his case. He sweetly smiled and said: “Bro. Betts as soon as I die I shall go straight to my blessed Jesus!” That was a happy moment to me. As I write about it in October 1896 the joy I feel pays me a thousand times for all the nights I ever slept on frozen ground, snow or mud.

Betts is a Methodist chaplain. Like many other chaplains of various denominations, however, he ministers across denominational lines. One of the dynamics of the religious life of the Confederate camps is the multi-denominational nature of religious services and personal religious experiences. Many Baptists spiritually saved during the war are led to the Lord by chaplains of other Christian denominations.

Source: Betts, Alexander Davis, Experience of a Confederate Chaplain, 1861-1864, Greenville, SC, 190?, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Documenting the American South project (link)