Baptists and the American Civil War: March 23,1865

African SlaveryToday’s edition of the Georgia Baptist Christian Index returns to an oft-repeated argument in these latter months of the war. In an article entitled “Marriage of Slaves,” the author follows a well-worn path in refusing to blame slavery as the cause of God’s punishment upon the South, but does argue that the manner in which laws and many slaveowners treat their chattel may be at least a part of the problem. Specifically, refusal to recognize slave marriages is offensive to God, contributing to the woes of his chosen nation.

Meanwhile, Union General William T. Sherman remains busy freeing slaves. So many have been liberated by Union armies at this point that Southern Baptist warnings about the proper treatment of slaves seem largely mute.

Today Sherman, for weeks having marched through North Carolina, reaches Goldsboro. The Union army having only days ago endured two of the most hard-fought battles (Averasborough and Bentonville) since leaving Atlanta, General Oliver Howard issues Special Field Order No. 69 before the soldiers enter the town of Goldsboro.

Special Field Orders, No. 69

Heaquarders Departmen and Army of the Tennessee

Falling Creek, N.C., March 23, 1865.

I.  The command will move tomorrow to Goldsboro.  The Fifteenth Army Corps, Maj. Gen. John A. Logan commanding, will move upon any route or routes, avoiding the river road, and cross the Neuse River east of the Wilmington and Weldon railroad.  The Seventeenth Army Corps, Maj. Gen. F. P. Blair commanding, will move away by the river road and cross the river west of the railroad.  The Army of the Tennessee will take up a strong position beyond Goldsboro, covering the town to the east of the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad, the Fifteenth Army Corps on the right and the Seventeenth Army Corps on the left, and will immediately intrench their positions.  In order to afford ample room, about two-thirds of each corps will be placed in the front line.  A staff officer from each corps headquarters, to whom the positions will be appointed, will accompany the general commanding to-morrow.

II.  The present foraging system is hereby abolished.  Every person not entitled to be mounted will be dismounted and all horses and mules turned over to the corps quartermaster.  Foraging on the country from Goldsboro will be done by regiments or brigades, with officers present.  These will be regularly detailed by corps or division commanders.  The engineer regiment and other detachments may send details, never less than two companies, with their regular officers, and these will attach themselves, when practicable, to regular detailed foraging regiments or brigades, and the officer in charge will always have written authority.  The division commander will always make special provisions for his artillery by attaching its foraging details to a regular party. 

            By order of Maj. Gen. O. O. Howard:

                                                                                    A. M. Van Dyke,

                                                                     Assistant Adjutant-General.


Sources: “Marriage of Slaves,” Christian Index, March 23, 1865; “Oliver Howard, Special Field Orders, No. 69 March 23, 1865,” digitized by North Carolina State History Department (link)