Baptists and the American Civil War: October 20, 1864

lincoln_1863novGovernment leaders North and South repeatedly invoke God’s favor upon their respective nations throughout the war. Now, with the nearly four-year old conflict having reached a point at which God’s favor is visibly evidenced on the side of the United States, President Abraham Lincoln issues his second annual, official Thanksgiving proclamation.

United States residents, despite the travails and destruction of war, are feeling much better. The Confederacy is reeling. With Atlanta captured, Richmond besieged via Petersburg, and Confederate armies reduced to a shadow of their former abilities, it is merely a matter of time before the Rebels are forced into submission.

Lincoln’s proclamation this day reflects the prevailing public optimism.

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with His guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy, who is of our own household. It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their camps and our sailors on the rivers and seas with unusual health. He has largely augmented our free population by emancipation and by immigration, while He has opened to us new sources of wealth and has crowned the labor of our workingmen in every department of industry with abundant rewards. Moreover, He has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage, and resolution sufficient for the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of freedom and humanity, and to afford to us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions:

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may then be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of Events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 20th day of October, A.D. 1864, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-ninth.


By the President:


Secretary of State.

Meanwhile, beleaguered Confederate generals Beauregard and Hood plot strategy at the First Baptist Church of Gadsden, Alabama. Beauregard advises staying close to Sherman‘s armies, attacking the enemy’s rear lines when feasible. Hood recommends moving northward through Nashville en route to engaging Grant‘s armies at Petersburg, thus reinforcing Lee and relieving the pressure on the nearby Confederate capital city.

While neither option harbors much of a chance of success, giving up is not yet considered to be a viable option.

Several more days of debate between the two generals takes place before Confederate forces begin movements toward Tennessee.

Sources: Abraham Lincoln, “Proclamation 118 – Thanksgiving Day, 1864,” October 20, 1864 (link) and (link); Danny Crownover, “The Vagabond: A Decision in Gadsden,” Gadsden Messenger, June 27, 2014 (link)