Baptists and the American Civil War: September 23, 1861

Civil War Soldier TractSouthern Baptists are now publishing religious tracts and New Testaments for soldiers by the thousands. The extensive nature of their soldier publications through the Baptist Colportage Board in Richmond, Virginia, is evident. As reported by the Richmond Times Daily Dispatch:

Much good may be done in the progress of the present campaign by clergymen, as well as others who feel disposed to aid in the distribution of religious literature among the soldiers. Indeed, much has already been done in this respect, as the subjoined communication will show. There are many thousand men in camp and field who would be grateful for the bestowal even of a small tract; and by thus causing a general circulation from one to another the light of religious truth may penetrate minds hitherto oblivious. Rev. A. E. Dickinson, General Superintendent of the Baptist Colportage Board in Virginia, writes to us as follows:

“The Baptist Colportage Board, located in this city, has published upwards of seven hundred thousand pages of religious tracts addressed to-soldiers, and have arranged for the publication of twelve thousand pocket Testaments, two thousand of which we expect to receive next week. We have colporteurs at various encampments within the State who are laboring, with very great success. Besides this, we propose to supply chaplains, and all persons who may desire to do good by distributing religious tracts. We shall be glad to have the names of such as may desire to aid in this most important work.”

Meanwhile, Baptist associations in Georgia continue meeting. Baptists of the Middle Cherokee Baptist Association, meeting at the Oothcaloga Baptist Church in Cass County, speak frankly of the war:

We live in times of war. Our nation is now contending for that liberty which we had thought belonged to us as a rich legacy from our patriot fathers of ’76. But in this we have been greatly disappointed. Our property [slaves], equality, liberty – yea, all that is dear to freemen, cruel tyrants would wrest from our hands. To preserve these inestimable blessings, our brave youth of the South have cheerfully sacrificed all the comforts of home and rushed to the field of carnage. And now we, as a nation, have risen up as one man to repel our wicked invaders. All honor to the God of battles, who has thus far given victory to our arms, and let every Southern heart cry, Amen.

Note: The soldier tract pictured above is a Union tract, but is representative of soldier tracts North and South.

Sources: Religious tract publishing (link); Minutes of the Middle Cherokee Baptist Association, Georgia, September 21-23, 1861.