Baptists and the American Civil War: November 22, 1864

Basil Manly Sr.

Basil Manly, Sr.

The March to the Sea continues, with today’s primary action playing out in Jones and Troup counties north of Macon. Here in the Battle of Griswoldville Union forces easily dispatch a contingent of Confederates, suffering a mere 62 casualties compared to some 650 for the Rebels.

The Battle of Griswoldville, proving to be one of the more spirited attempts by Confederate forces to resist Sherman‘s forces during the March to the Sea, mirrors the haplessness into which the South has seemingly descended. The Federals, boasting superior numbers and firepower, are simply too strong in the Deep South state of Georgia to be significantly bothered by Confederate military forces decimated by years of deaths and desertions.

Also hauntingly symbolic this day is the sudden fate that befalls one of the most prominent pastors in Southern Baptist life.

Basil Manly, Sr., until recently pastor of the First Baptist Church of Montgomery, Alabama, and earlier one of the founders of both the Southern Baptist Convention (1845) and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1859), reached a pinnacle of public prominence as chaplain of Alabama’s Secession Convention and at the inauguration of Jefferson Davis as Confederate president, a momentous event which he opened with prayer, invoking the certain blessing of God upon His Southern nation. Today, however, the great Manly, arguably the public face of Southern Baptists, is stricken with paralysis.

Manly never recovers from his affliction, dying in 1868, just as the Confederacy never recovers from Sherman’s March to the Sea, the prayers of the man and of a nation forever ignored by an imagined God of human bondage and inequality.

Sources: Battle of Griswoldville (link) and (link); Basil Manly, Sr. biographical info (link) and (link) and (link)