Baptists and the American Civil War: July 23, 1864

Civil War States MapSoldiers in the Confederate armies by this time are spread about in seemingly haphazard fashion. Many of the defenders of the besieged city of Atlanta hail from far away, as do many of the soldiers engaged in the defense of Richmond that is currently playing out in the siege of nearby Petersburg. In the trenches around Atlanta are to be found many Virginians, while not a few Georgians are hunkered down in Virginia trenches.

Among the latter is Captain Thomas H. Bomar of the 38th Georgia Infantry Regiment. From a prominent Baptist family in Atlanta, Thomas probably, from time to time, thinks of his home church, the First Baptist Church of Atlanta. His father, Benjamin F.–born in Spartanburg, South Carolina in 1816, he moved to Georgia in 1850 to practice medicine–was a charter member of the church. Benjamin’s father had been a minister in South Carolina.

A newspaperman, Benjamin had been one of Atlanta’s first leaders. He was a member of Atlanta’s first City Council (1848), served as the city’s second major (elected 1849), and co-owned the Atlanta Intelligencer newspaper.

Today from Virginia son Thomas writes to his father Benjamin and mother Sarah, who are concerned both about their son and the menacing Union threat to Atlanta. Thomas relates the recent movements of his regiment and Confederate General Jubal Early‘s recent campaign into Maryland (that ended in a failed attempt to invade Washington, D.C.).

One family, two battlefronts, two beleaguered cities intertwined in a desperate effort to prevent the Northern abolitionist foe from conquering the Confederacy and bringing to an end to the lucrative (for a few) institution of black slavery.

The saga for the Bomar family is far from over. Thomas, captured in Virginia on October 19, is thereafter imprisoned in Fort Delaware, Delaware until his release on July 24, 1865. From Delaware he makes the long trek home to a city in ruins.

Sources: Bomar Family Papers, 1862-1870, Emory University (link); “Muster Roll of Company L, 38th Regiment Georgia Volunteer Infantry Evans’ Brigade, Gordon’s Division Wright’s Legion Army of Northern Virginia, C.S.A., Dawson County” (link)