Baptists and the American Civil War: September 30, 1863

Civil War States MapThe long reach of a caring Baptist minister (a pastor and American Baptist missionary) is evidenced today in a letter written by a Michigan soldier in the Michigan 7th Infantry Regiment, Company I.

Head Qrs 7th Mich Vols Near Raccoon Ford Va.

Sept 30./63

Dear Mother

I am very busy just now with my monthly and Quarterly returns, but I will squeeze out enough time to let you know what I am about. In looking over my letters received at New York I find one from Rev T Z R. Jones I do not know as the letter requires an answer still I will try and write one as soon as I can Give him my thanks, and through him to the Baptist Church for their remembrance I am the only one left of the six who went from Climax [Michigan] in the 7th I suppose McFarlin is alive thanks to long legs but I dont want to be in his shoes. I hope Clem will have to come in this draft. Also a lot of the Pierces It would do me good to “break them in.” I saw Angelo Chadsey a short time ago He was well I only spoke with him as I was riding along at the head of the regiment. He told me that James Geddes had died of Typhoid fever- I did not learn where or when. I also saw Spencer Harrison as we were passing – only had time, to say “how are you” – “where’s the rest of the boys?” We were there expecting to have a brush in a short time. Our pickets and those of the enemy are quite sociable drinking coffee together and exchanging papers, but so many conscripts have made use of the chance to desert that orders were issued to day to shoot without challenge any one of our men who should be seen in front of the outposts and no communication is allowed with the enemy except by flag of truce and then only through an officer appointed for the purpose The 11th & 12th Corps have been sent to reinforce our Armies in the west and to help Rosecrans I suppose. Attention seems to be drawn quite strongly that way at present. How is Copperheadism in Climax & how do they like the drafts? I wrote the other day to father to send some boots & sent him the measures. They are wanted just as soon as he can get them here by express. I would like to have that coat that I left cleaned & the straps taken off and sent to me with the boots. I must now close Remember me to all friends

Love to all

Your affectionate son

Saml C. Hodgman

The Rev. T. Z. R. Jones is a pioneer pastor and missionary in Michigan. Whether the letter he writes to Hodgman is as the pastor of the Climax Baptist Church, or a representative of the American Baptist Home Missions Society, is unclear.

Hodgman enters service as a First Sergeant and exits as a Captain.

Sources: Mary Elizabeth Day Trowbridge, History of Baptists in Michigan, Michigan State Baptist Convention, 1909, pp. 136-137 (link); Charles G. Bigelow, History of First Baptist Church Albion, Michigan (link); “Early History of Fountain Street Baptist Church,” 1894 (link); Samuel Chase Hodgman Letters, Western Michigan University U.S. Civil War Collection (link); Samuel C. Hodgman letter, September 30, 1863, Western Michigan University U.S. Civil War Collection (link); Samuel C. Hodgman, Civil War Soldiers Database, National Park Service (link);view=fulltext