Baptists and the American Civil War: August 19, 1864

North Carolina MapThe war does not put a damper on Southern Baptist revivals.

The traditional revival season is August through October, the months reflective of harvest season, although some revivals take place in late July. Food crops are scarce in much of the South, but congregational evangelistic gatherings in meeting houses and outdoors are in no short supply. Revivals in army camps, more common during the winter off season, are also still taking place in areas of the South where there is a lull in battlefield action.

Indeed, the hard times filled with fear and uncertainty seem to evoke a heightened degree of religious fervor, in some instances.

There are many Baptist ministers who specialize in revival preaching, as is the case with North Carolina’s Rev. C. B. Justice, who today writes a letter to the North Carolina Baptist Biblical Recorder, reporting on the successes of his preaching.

Dear Bro. Hufham:–Believing that it would rejoice your readers to hear what the Lord is doing for His people in this part of His moral vineyard, I will give you some account of my labors of late. On Saturday before the 4th Sunday in July I commenced a protracted meeting at Smyrna church, in Burke county, N. C., which continued eight days and resulted in the addition of seven persons to the church; all of whom I had the privilege of baptizing on the last day of the meeting, I was assisted one day by Elder R. H. Moody and three days by Elder J. C. Grayson. We left a large number enquiring the way of life.

From this church I went to the Zion church, in the same county, and assisted Elder J. C. Grayson, in holding a protracted meeting, commencing on the fifth Sunday in July and continued eight days. It resulted in the addition of six persons to the church at Zion and one to the church at Smyrna.

I am now conducting a protracted meeting at Monfort’s Cove the result of which I will give you as soon as it closes. To God be all the glory.

Your Bro.
Rutherfordton, August 19th, 1864

While revival successes cheer Southern Baptists, some recent war news is sobering, as a commentary in this week’s Biblical Recorder, conveys.

….The enemy’s fleet has made an attack on the outer defences of Mobile, Ala. Fort Powell was evacuated and blown up by Lt. Col. Williams. On the 6th, 7th and 8th inst., the enemy bombarded Fort Gaines, which was under the immediate command of Col. Chas. Anderson, of the 21st Alabama regiment. At half past nine o’clock on the 8th, Col. Anderson struck his colors and surrendered the fort. This powerful work is said to have been provisioned for six months; and the surrender of it under the circumstances, is regarded as shameful and humiliating….

….The deserters in Moore county, in this State, are becoming more audacious and troublesome. On the 6th inst., while a detachment of the “Senior Reserves” were carrying a squad of recusant conscripts and deserters to the railroad, they were ambushed and fired on by a gang of deserters, and three men instantly killed….

Sources: Biblical Recorder, August 31, 1864 (link); “The News,” Biblical Recorder, August 17, 1864 (link)