Baptists and the American Civil War: June 5, 1863

The 26th New Jersey Infantry taking part in the engagment at Franklin's Crossing, June 5, 1863 (Illustration from Samuel Toombs' New Jersey Troops in the Gettysburg Campaign, Digitized Version by Google Books)

The 26th New Jersey Infantry taking part in the engagment at Franklin’s Crossing, June 5, 1863 (Illustration from Samuel Toombs’ New Jersey Troops in the Gettysburg Campaign, Digitized Version by Google Books)

As the Battle of Franklin’s Crossing near Fredericksburg takes place only sixty or so miles to the north, the annual gathering of the Baptist General Association of Virginia continues in Richmond, with much emphasis placed on slavery and the war:

At 9½ o’clock the association was called to order by the President. The opening religious exercises were conducted by Rev. T. Hume.

The committee on the resolution to report “the best methods” of instructing our slaves was made to consist of Elders Wm. F. Broad dus, T. Hume, J. B. Taylor, J. B. S. lomon, and T. W. Sydnor.

The Secretary read the proceedings of yesterday, which were approved.

Rev. J. B. Taylor reported the following from the Committee on Business:

From 9 till 10 o’clock, miscellaneous business; till 10½ devotional exercises at 10½ o’clock, report of the Sunday School and Publication Board; adjourn at 4½ o’clock; afternoon, 4 o’clock, Foreign Mission reports, at night. Board of Domestic and Indian Missions; Saturday, business till 10 o’clock; devotional exercises till 10½ report of the State Mission Board; afternoon, reports of committees; at night, report of Education and Bible Board.

Rev. C. Tyree, Dr. Jeter. Rev. J. B. Taylor, Rev. G. W. Briggs, Rev. A. Breadus, of Greenville, S. C; Rev. A. B. Smith, took part in the special devotional exercises.

Fervent prayers were offered in behalf of the soldiers and for a speedy peace.

The brethren who exhorted urged that we should pray for our enemies, and especially that we should seek the blessing of God on our own soldiers.

Rev. A. E. Dickinson, Superintendent of Colportage, read his report. During the past year the work of the society has steadily grown $60,037.34 have been collected; eight Colporteurs and Evangeline have been sustained among the soldiers; 24,000,000 pages of tracts published and put in circulation; 25,000 bibles and testaments printed and circulated. Besides many thousand copies of religious journals published in various portions of the South are sent by the Board to the camps and hospitals.

This Board was the first in the Confederate States to enter upon army colportage. More than two years ago its trained band of colporteurs was sent into the army. The report rejoices in the fact that other societies have been established, and expresses the hope that others may be called into being; for after every effort has been put forth by us all there will still be thousands of precious souls but scantily supplied with the means of grace.

Mr. Winston, president of the Baptist Female Institute, corresponding secretary of the Sunday School and Publication Board, read the annual report. Geo Sumner, the treasurer, also read his report. At the conclusion of the reading of these reports, very interesting addresses, giving graphic and touching incidents in camp life, and the influence for good which the circulation and reading of tracts had effected among the soldiers, were made by Rev. Dr. W. F. Broadus, Rev. T. Hume, Rev. Wm. Huff Rev. John. W. Jones, chaplain 13th Va., represented that great revivals are spreading throughout the Potomac army, and hundreds had been converted. This society had done a noble work. Its colporteurs and tracts are to be found everywhere. But much remains to be done.

Rev. A. Broadus of S. C. Rev. Thos Dodson, of N. C. Rev. Dr. and Lieutenant Governor Montague, also addressed the Association — the latter at some length, in fervent and eloquent strains, which found a responsive chord in the hearts of the audience. The whole discussion was interesting, and facts were elicited which will have an influence on the future operations of the Society. A sketch of the various speeches may be looked for in the next number of the Religious Herald.

The reports on Colportage and of the Treasurer were then unanimously adopted.

E. S. Taylor offered the following resolution, which was adopted:

Resolved, That the Sunday School and Publication Board be instructed to correspond with pastors suited to the work and endeavor to engage them to labor as voluntary evangelists in the army, and that the Board defray the expenses.

While the committee appointed to determine the best method of African slave instruction convenes and the Virginia Baptist delegates focus on the importance of evangelizing the Confederate army, Confederate forces under Gen. A. P. Hill defeat Union forces under General John Sedgwick at Franklin’s Crossing, a small clash with few casualties that presages Robert E. Lee’s impending invasion of the North.

Sources: “Battle of Franklin’s Crossing,” Wikipedia (link); “Baptist Association,” Richmond Daily Dispatch, June 6, 1863 (link); Image, “Resources on the 26th New Jersey” (link)