Baptists and the American Civil War: October 30, 2012

The editor of North Carolina Baptists’ Biblical Recorder, J. D. Hufham, this week offers a few remarks about the spiritual challenges of army camp life and then refers to a news item concerning religion among Confederate soldiers.

We are pleased to learn, from various quarters, that a deep religious feeling prevails among many of our gallant soldiers. It is indeed gratifying to know that they can so far resist the demoralizing and hardening influences of the camp as to think seriously about their duties to God and their relations to the eternal world. How cheering and encouraging are these assurances to the christians at home? How could they stimulate us to pray for the soldiers and to do all in our power to furnish them the means of grace?

The Winston Sentinel has heard from the 21st N. C. Regiment. Says the Sentinel:

Quite an interesting religious revival was then in progress in the 7th brigade (of which the 21st N. C. Regiment constitutes a part.) Religious meetings were held nightly and were largely attended by the troops of the brigade; the ministers officiating being chaplains of different regiments. Gen. Jackson was a frequent attendant at these meetings, and on the day previous (Sunday) he appeared to be more than usually interested and pleased with the services. On this occasion, our correspondent describes him as seated on a stool (the only one who was thus favored with such a comfort) surrounded by a large circle of men seated on the ground, a small vacant space immediately around Stonewall, and his elevated position, alone distinguished him from the rest of the soldiers. He was a very attentive listener to the sermon, keeping his eyes fixed on the minister, apparently riveted on him, until the services ended.

Our correspondent says it was a subject of remark that every commissioned officer in the brigade had on several occasions been present at preaching.

There are, as of yet, no reports of massive conversions among Confederate soldiers. Interest in religion among soldiers is, depending upon the observer and the locale, in some instances encouraging, in this report “interesting,” and in other accounts alarmingly lacking. Nonetheless, Gen. Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson–a devout Presbyterian with a Baptist background–is now looked upon as a military genius and an exemplary Christian leader, both by his men and, seemingly, the nation at large. If the evil influences of camp life are to be truly conquered, surely Stonewall’s personal piety and high stature among the troops will point the way.

Source: “Religious Feeling in Camp,” Biblical Recorder, October 29, 1862 (link)