Baptists and the American Civil War: July 9, 1862

Reprinted in today’s North Carolina Baptist Biblical Recorder is a letter from a Confederate correspondent from Camp Magnum, near Raleigh, North Carolina, who in recent weeks wrote of his observations regarding newly-mandated prayers at Confederate Army dress parades.

All the troops in this State now have prayer at Dress Parades. This was commenced a week or two ago. There has been doubt whether it would effect any good. I think it will have a beneficial effect. Man’s patriotism and bravery is based mostly on his moral nature, and the conscience–the seat of the moral qualities, should be educated and developed. Nothing can better tend to this than habitually associating together and reverently exercising the moral powers of the soul in the holy attitude of prayer.–It reminds us afresh too of the dangers around us and of our entire dependence on the great God of battles. It elevates and refines the man and counteracts that brutish, selfish disposition so generally evinced in some portions of the army. An infidel will not pray anyhow, and every moral man professing a belief in christianity can endorse most of the prayers used, and none are compelled to pray though present.

While sometimes claiming that church and state are separated in the Confederacy, Baptists of the South nonetheless repeatedly insist that the Confederate government mandate among the Army observance of Sunday as a holy day and prayers at certain times, in addition to officially calling upon local churches to set aside days of fasting and prayer for the government.

Source: “Prayer at Dress Parade,” Biblical Recorder, July 9, 1862 (link)