Baptists and the American Civil War: September 3, 1863

Civil War States MapAn editorial in this week’s Georgia Baptist Christian Index article speaks to the “present situation,” that is, the challenges to the Confederate cause in recent months.

He who can view our present “Situation” without an intelligent degree of soberness, is certainly dead to a just appreciation of the crisis. Beyond a doubt perils of an appalling nature are hovering over us; but this is no reason why determination should falter, or courage diminish; far less is it a reason why aught of despair should enthrone itself in any heart. A just survey, while it simply shows the enemy further advanced in his encroachment, beholds our Confederacy far stronger, far better prepared for conflict, and vastly superior to what she was one year since, in the material for successful warfare. We have arms and ammunition in sufficiency; our armies are strong, confident and buoyant; our workshops are turning out constant supplies of the munitions of war; our people are waking–and but just waking–to the necessities of the hour; the Government is active in the performance of its duty; and all we really need is for a hopeful and determined spirit to imbue the public heart.

Let it be remembered that unless we will it, we never can be conquered; let it be remembered that a submissive people only, is a subjugated people; and shall we submit to Lincoln? The question is an insult to Southerners. And, yet, entire and unconditional submission, or victory, are the only two alternatives before us.

Submission? Submission to be followed by emancipation, confiscation, armed guards, satraps, passes, oaths of allegiance, being disarmed, dictated to in our very prayers, and subjugated to such grievances as shall force every bright-minded person from the country?–Shall free born Southerners submit to all this? Never!

Reconstruction!! It is the lure of traitors! There can be no reconstruction–with us independence must be gained, or all else worth having is lost.

On this public sentiment must settle. We must have no wavering–no doubts–no faltering. Our people, with one mind and one heart, must come up to the glorious work of achieving independence. We have no other alternative save destruction.

And, thank God, we have every reason to hope for success. Our noble army still stands, a wall of steel; our people are patriotic and full of courage; they are nerving themselves to the contest and preparing to hurl the myrmidons of Lincoln over the border. The God of nations has manifested his favor towards us, and will soon aid us in disposing our invaders. Why then should we be disheartened? It is but one short, fierce, dogged struggle, on our part, and the worst will be over–Courage, then, Southerners! Once more to the breach! Arm and strike for home, for liberty, for wife and children, for God and your native land.

This editorial reflects larger currents at work in the South. The evidence of Lincoln’s intent on subduing the South is witnessed in many occupied Southern cities. Even as the prospects of white supremacy turn ever darker and Confederate army desertions grow ever more, the rhetoric from Southern (white) pulpit and print falls like a whip upon a faltering steed, striving mightily to rally increasingly weary white commoners to the fading cause of liberty for whites only.

As to whether the verbal coaxing will work is yet to be determined.

Source: “Danger and Duty,” Christian Index, September 4, 1863