Baptists and the American Civil War: September 14, 1864


“THE GREAT CATTLE RAID AT HARRISON’S LANDING, September 16, 1864”. From Harper’s Weekly, October 8, 1864

Hunger plagues Confederate soldiers entrenched at Petersburg. A Confederate scout the previous week spotted some 3,000 head of cattle behind Union lines. Major General Wade Hampton, in turn, set about crafting a plan to steal the cattle to bolster food supplies.

Today Hampton sets out with 3,000 men (one for each cow, perhaps?) via a route of which he is confident is only loosely guarded by Federals.

The “Beefsteak Raid” succeeds, resulting on September 16 in the capture of 2,000 cattle, 11 wagons and 304 Union prisoners. On September 17 the Confederates return to the safety of their lines, having suffered only 61 men killed, wounded or missing.

Unfortunately, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia can not spare grain to feed the cattle, necessitating the immediate slaughter of the animals. For days, Rebel soldiers feast on beef, consuming as much as possible before the meat spoils. On the front lines, Confederates gleefully flaunt their steaks in front of nearby Union sentries.

The Union, however, is able to quickly replace their lost cattle, while the Confederate soldiers, albeit temporarily satisfied, are soon enough lacking provisions yet again.

Meanwhile, today’s South Carolina Confederate Baptist newspaper expresses concern for the spiritual nourishment of Southern soldiers.

It is gratifying to notice the interest which is universally felt for the welfare of our soldiers. At suitable stations on our lines of travel, our women appear, with contributions to their bodily comfort; and many a blessing wells up from grateful hearts, as the train bears off its freight of sick and wounded heroes. But our soldiers ought to learn, that the chief object of solicitude with these, their fair countrywomen, has reference to their spiritual welfare. It is religion which suggests their kindness to them, and the same principle moves them to desire, most of all, the salvation of their souls. Soldier, did it ever occur to you that the same gentle hands, which ministered to your necessities, and supplied you with refreshments, at the rail-road station, and at the way-side home, are, that very night, clasped in prayer for you? Yet, it is verily so. Those noble women love their country, and they love you, its valiant defender; but their chief care is for your soul. Could they speak to you, they would “beseech you to be reconciled unto God.” If these most ardent prayers are answered, you will be found among the disciples of the Lord Jesus.

Think of these things, and as you pursue your way homeward, or sit in your tent, recall their sweet faces, as those of “angels sent forth to minister unto them, who are the heirs of salvation.” If nothing else can touch your hearts, think of these blessed women, and resolve, that by the grace of God, you will meet them in heaven.

Sources: “Beefsteak Raid” (link)’ “The Common Care,” Confederate Baptist, September 14, 1864; image (link)