Baptists and the American Civil War: June 19, 1864

Texas Civil War MapToday off the coast of France the Confederate’s prize naval warship, the CSS Alabama, is sunk by the USS Kearsarge in the Battle of Cherbourg. With the sinking of the Alabama, what little hope the Confederacy had left on the high seas is gone, as virtually the entire Southern coast is effectively blockaded by the powerful United States Navy, even as Union armies slowly but surely squeeze the South inland.

Meanwhile, today in Texas “a few black missionaries” and “Rev. Butler a white minister from Richardson” meet “under a large elm tree in the White Rock area of Dallas.” In this gathering of Northern (American) Baptist missionaries and a local Baptist minister the Mount Pisgah Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas is born. The church’s first deacons are John Huffman, Dan Howard, Sam Fowler, William Phifer, Tobe Howard and Jack Sanders.

The Mount Pisgah Baptist Church thus has the distinction of being the first black Baptist church organized in Dallas County.

The new black Baptist church is one of dozens if not hundreds of new black congregations that are established this year as the winds of freedom blow ever stronger throughout the South. Like many others founded this year, the Mount Pisgah Baptist Church prospers in the post-war years.

The church remains a vibrant congregation with some 2,000 worshipers each Sunday.

Sources: Battle of Cherbourg (link) and (link); Mount Pisgah Baptist Church history (link) and (link); “Mount Pisgah Baptist Church Celebrating 150 Year Anniversary With Release of CD and Activities” (link)