Baptists and the American Civil War: November 2, 1864

preliminary_emancipationToday the Federal crimping of Confederate capabilities continues with the capture of the Lucy, one of few remaining Confederate blockade runners. The Lucy‘s signal officer, Sidney Lanier, is taken prisoner and transferred to Point Lookout prison in Maryland.

Lanier (1842-1881), a native of Macon, Georgia, survives the war, marries, returns to his home town, and becomes an organist, lawyer, university professor and, most notably, a poet. Much of his poetry is about Georgia. Following his life, his name comes to grace a number of structures. The county of Lanier, Georgia is also named after the Confederate veteran and poet.

Meanwhile, and even as the Siege of Petersburg continues unabated, a new Baptist church, founded by former slaves, is birthed in Yorktown, a Union-controlled area of Virginia, in a nondescript building.

The early history of the Rising Sun Baptist Church, the church name expressing the earthly new life that Abraham Lincoln‘s Emancipation Proclamation has provided for black Americans, is thus recounted in brief:

On November 2, 1864, in a log cabin, the Rising Sun Baptist Church was organized by several persons from First Baptist Williamsburg, First Baptist Hampton, and Mill Creek, Virginia. About 1878, the humble log cabin was destroyed by fire and a brush harbor was used. A plot of land was given, by Noah Eagles, on which to build a better church for the faithful worshippers.

The church grows and thrives, relocating in the early 20th century and constructing a new sanctuary, and remains a vibrant congregation in the 21st century.

Sources: “Sidney Lanier” (link) and (link); Eugenia Dorothy Blount Lamar, Sidney Lanier: Musician, Poet, Soldier, Macon, Ga.: J. W. Burke, 1922 (link); Point Lookout State Park and Civil War Museum (link); “Church History,” Rising Sun Baptist Church (link)