Baptists and the American Civil War: January 29, 1865

Civil War States MapFrom the border state of Kentucky, a Baptist writes of the war-generated excitement in his state. Benjamin Franklin Hungerford (1825-1916) is a Baptist minister who is a Union man and anti-slavery. His journal reveals his interest in the war, an interest shared by many other of the state’s residents.

A Union report briefly details some of the military action that is the current talk of so many Kentuckians, including Hungerford. “Thirty-five guerrillas, under Captain Clarke, all dressed in Federal uniform, entered Danville this morning. They robbed some of the citizens and one boot store and left on the Perryville pike at 11.15 a. m. They claimed, at first, to be Federal troops, Fourth Missouri Cavalry, but there is no doubt they are guerrillas in disguise. They gutted my office here pretty effectually.”

This same day near Harrodsburg Federals capture or kill twelve Confederate guerrillas disguished as Union soldiers.

Kentucky, to be sure, is not the only state in turmoil. Divisions of Sherman‘s army are steadily advancing in South Carolina, with some troops reaching Robertville today. Confederate military leaders, uncertain as to Sherman’s next moves, are busy trying to cobble together effective defenses in Columbia and Charleston.

Bit by bit, mile by mile, Union military forces thus pinch the Confederacy ever tighter. Other than at Petersburg, remaining Southern armies are largely powerless in the face of a determined, relentless foe.

Sources: Jack Birdwhistell, “Excerpts from the Diary of B. F. Hungerford, A Kentucky Baptist Pastor During the Civil War,” Baptist History and Heritage, April 1979, Vol. 14 No. 2; War of the Rebellion: Serial 103, Washington, D.C.: 1895, p. 18 (link); War of the Rebellion: Series 1, Volume 18, Part 1, Washington, D.C.: 1895, p. 817 (link)