Baptists and the American Civil War: March 12, 1865

Kentucky Tennessee MapToday Union General William T. Sherman writes General Ulysses S. Grant. Sherman’s men are, for their hundreds of miles of marching the past four months, in good shape. Knowing of Grant’s difficulty in maneuvering past Lee to get at Richmond, Sherman declares his intention to come to his aid soon if no serious Confederate resistance counters his movements in North Carolina.

Sherman also writes of the need “to clear my columns of the vast crowd of refugees and negroes that encumber us. Some I will send down the river in boats, and the rest to Wilmington by land, under small escort, as soon as we are across Cape Fear River.” The large numbers of newly-freed slaves, many women and children, that often attach themselves to Union armies are routinely routed to freedmen camps on the Union-controlled coast, Wilmington being the most recent addition to southern coastal towns under Federal control.

In nearby Tennessee, the Cedar Fork Baptist Church is seemingly disgusted with the war and ready to move on. Today the congregation resolves “that we declare a non fellowship against all aides and abetters of the rebelion until satisfaction be made by them to the church in the letter and spirit of the Gospel…”

Few white southern churches seemingly turn wholesale against Confederates, but then Tennessee has been a divided state for the duration of the war, with many citizens remaining loyal to the Union all along.

Sources: Letter from William Sherman to Ulysses Grant, March 12, 1865, University of North Carolina (link); Robert L. Bailey, compiler, “Cedar Fork Baptist Church Records, 1844-1869” (link)