Baptists and the American Civil War: May 16, 1864

Civil War States MapMany readers of the North Carolina Baptist Biblical Recorder depend upon the paper to convey and interpret the latest battlefield developments. While often a few days behind, and even more so due to the two to three days it may take subscribers to receive the paper, editor J. D. Hufham‘s summaries are reliably as optimistic as possible. Such optimism has been hard to maintain since Confederate defeats at Gettysburg and Vicksburg in July 1863, but Hufham does his best to keep hope alive in the hearts of white North Carolina Baptists.

Now, with the major spring Union offensives against Richmond and Atlanta well underway, the editor is hard at work again encouraging his news flock to remain hopeful. An all-powerful God, after all, can easily bring this war to a successful conclusion for his Confederacy, if He so chooses.

The great struggle has commenced in Virginia, and there are indications that it will not be long delayed in Georgia. To these points all eyes are now turned and all await the latest news with breathless anxiety. Thus far we have been victorious. Let us hope that this will continue, and that our armies, with the blessing of God, will bring peace and acknowledgment of our independence.

The accounts are meagre and indefinite, but we gather the following facts. The enemy seem to have crossed the Rapidan without interruption, at Germana and Ely’s fords on the 4th or 5th instant.–Ewell’s and Hill’s corps advanced to meet there and were fiercely assaulted by the enemy on the morning of the 5th.

The battle raged till night but we were everywhere successful. We captured many prisoners and four pieces of artillery. In this fight we lost Brig. Gen. Jones, killed, and Gen. Stafford wounded. On the same day the enemy landed a strong force at Clay Point, on the James river, nine miles from Petersburg.

On the following day, as the divisions of Hill’s corps which had been previously engaged were being relieved, the enemy made another attack and created some confusion. But, as soon as fresh troops got into position he was driven back to his original line, extending from the Wilderness Tavern to Twigg’s Mill. Subsequently we turned his right and left wings compelling him to move down from the Rapidan towards Ely’s ford, Germana having been abandoned. Our loss in men was small. Gen. Longstreet was severely wounded in the shoulder. Gen. Pegram was also badly wounded and Gen. Jenkins was killed. The Yankee General Wadsworth was killed and Generals Seymour and Shaler are prisoners in our hands. South of Richmond the Yankees are succeeded in cutting the railroad between Weldon and Petersburg, and also at Chester, half way between Richmond and Petersburg.

On the following day, after a fierce engagement, the enemy was driven from Spottsylvania C.H., and moved down towards Fredericksburg. He was still entrenched not far from the former place at last advices. The railroad and telegraph lines have been broken between Weldon and Petersburg and also at Chester, half way between Petersburg and Richmond.–The enemy has attempted to occupy the railroad at the latter place, but has been repulsed each time with heavy loss. Such is a connected statement of affairs in Virginia. It is brief and unsatisfactory, but still the best that we could gather from Gen. Lee’s dispatches. The cutting of the railroad and telegraph lines renders it difficult to get news. Thus far all is well and we hope soon to hear that the enemy has been driven from Virginia.

At Dalton the enemy have made two demonstrations, but have been defeated each time. The defeat of Banks in Louisiana is fully confirmed. Price has also achieved a victory over Steele in Arkansas.

With thankfulness for these manifestations of God’s favor, let us patiently and hopefully await the developments of the future.

Source: “The Struggle is Commenced,” Biblical Recorder, May 14, 1864 (link)