Baptists and the American Civil War: May 30, 1861

Confederate Capital, Richmond, Virginia

Confederate Capital, Richmond, Virginia

Today in Petersburg, the Baptist General Association of Virginia convenes, with W. F. Broaddus serving as president. Baptists, numbering some 100,000 at this time, are increasingly prominent in the state. While dissenters among Virginia Baptists do exist, Confederate sentiment is strong among the state’s white Baptists.

The attention of Virginians, however, is focused elsewhere as the Confederate capital formally transitions from Montgomery, Alabama to Richmond, Virginia. From today’s Richmond Times Dispatch:

The public have been for several days past advised of the expected arrival of his Excellency, Hon. Jefferson Davis, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the Confederate States of America. He made his advent into Richmond at 25 minutes past 7 o’clock yesterday morning, having arrived from Petersburg in an extra train, accompanied by Gov. Letcher and the members of the Advisory Council, members of the City Council, Mayor Mayo, Thos. H. Wynne, Esq., of the House of Delegates, and a number of other gentlemen, who had repaired to Petersburg to greet the distinguished representatives of Southern rights. Hon. Lewis T. Wigfall and lady of Texas, Col. Jos. R. Davis, brother of the President, Col. Northrop, C. S. A., were among the President’s suite. On the arrival of the cars at the depot in this city, the air resounded with the most deafening cheers, oft repeated, for Davis and the Southern Confederacy, from several thousand willing mouths, honest hearts, and warm hands. After the enthusiastic greeting of the President was over – indeed, while it was progressing, a salute of 15 guns, one for each Southern State, was fired by a detachment of men under Col. John H. Richardson. President Davis was then escorted to a carriage in waiting by Thos. W. Hoeninger, Esq., of the Spotswood Hotel, and was drawn towards that elegant “traveler’s rest,” by four splendid bays, His Excellency, Gov. Letcher, Mayor Mayo, and Mr. Hoeninger, being seated with the President. His progress through the streets was marked with many affecting demonstrations of popular regard. People rushed up and would shake hands with the President, many of them doing so with tears of heartfelt joy “in eyes unused to weep.”

By the time the cortege arrived at the hotel, the crowd had increased to many thousands. – Amidst the vivas of a delighted people President Davis ascended the stairs, and was conducted to his parlor, (No. 83,) which had been most tastefully decorated by Mr. Hoeninger with the coat of arms and the flag of the Confederate States. The President hardly had time to get inside his retreat before he was vociferously called for. In obedience to the call he stepped to the window and briefly addressed the citizens on the present aspect of affairs. His remarks, though brief, were to the point, and convinced every one who heard them that Jefferson Davis was the man for the occasion. Gov. Letcher then welcomed our National ruler to its Metropolis, and was followed by Col. Wigfall, who proves himself on all occasions as great on the forum as in the field. Lieut. Gen. Montague spoke briefly but most acceptably in conclusion, when the crowd slowly dispersed.

The whole party, including President Davis, Gov. Letcher, Mayor Mayo, Cols. Davis and Wigfall, and others, then sat down to a capital breakfast, gotten up in the peculiar taking style of “mine host” of the Spotswood. A short time after the morning repast, the President received calls from numerous citizens and Government officials.

At half-past 5 o’clock yesterday evening, President Davis reviewed the troops now at the Central Fair Grounds. The Commander-in-Chief was pleased with his men – they with him.

Sources: Baptist General Association of Virginia meeting (link); Richmond Times Dispatch article (link); photo of the Confederate Capital in Richmond (link)