Baptists and the American Civil War: October 20, 1863

J. D. HufhamEach week during the war, editors of (white) Southern Baptist newspapers offer a potpourri of short pieces that collectively reveal their perspectives of the great conflict. By and large, these gatekeepers of denominational news are ardent supporters of the Confederacy, albeit the nuances of their shared nationalism (like that of the white South at large) are not always in harmony. (Particulars in regards to the fine points of church state issues, the need for more Baptists military chaplains and missionaries, army revivals, the sins of the Confederacy and other matters elicit some disagreements, for example.)

This week’s North Carolina Baptist Biblical Recorder offers a glimpse into how one editor’s views, that of J. D. Hufham, are channeled through his selection of short news items. His selection of news blurbs are frequently accompanied by commentary, whether overt or sly.

A MOVE IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. — We learn that Elder N. W. Wilson, of Chapel Hill, recently passed through this city on his way to Virginia with the view of spending a short time preaching to the soldiers. Elder A. J. Emerson was expected to follow in a short time. This is as it should be. Who else will go?

MISTAKES HIS CALLING. — Mr. Lincoln has suddenly grown religious. In a recent conversation he said, “that he had been commissioned by God to restore the Union, and he meant to do it!” He also said that, after the next Presidential election in the United States, “there will be a dispute in regard to the electoral vote, and he will be President another term, as God has directed!”

DEMORALIZED. — In reference to such professing christians as think the soldiers too much demoralized to be improved by preaching, Brigadier General Gordon, of Virginia, says: “Let them beware lest while they look upon the soldiers as too ‘demoralized’ to be benefitted by preaching, the soldiers ascertain that they are the ‘demoralized’ portion of the army of the Cross.”

THE MEN NEEDED FOR THE ARMY. — Says an army correspondent of one of our exchanges: “We want our best men here–men of courage, faith, experience–holy men–hard working men–men baptized afresh every day by the Holy Ghost for the work. No place here for slow men, mere reasoners and expositors, however learned or eloquent: war has no time to wait for such men–the soldier has no time to wait for such men–he may die to-morrow.”

CONTRABANDS IN BATTLE. — A correspondent of the Religious Herald, now laboring as Evangelist in the army of Northern Virginia, gives the following incident which recently occurred in one of the brigades of that army: “It had been the custom of one of the contrabands to follow the troops going into action, and thereby gather the spoils. On one occasion all of them in the brigade got together, and followed the line of battle some distance. But the shells coming over too thick, one of the darkies, who was riding a horse, rose in his stirrups, and in a loud voice gave the following command: ‘White fellows and brave men to the front, niggers and cowards to the rear; double quick, march!'” The command was obeyed immediately, amid a shout of laughter.

TYRANNY IN MARYLAND. — The Reverend Frederick Gibson, Assistant Rector of St. John’s church (Protestant Episcopal) at huntingdon, Md., has been arrested and confined in jail for the crime of saying that the war waged by Lincoln was “an unholy war.” Mr. Gibson declined by letter to receive into his school the son of a certain Mr. Johnson, stating that his school was full, but even if there were a vacancy, he should prefer not to admit the son of a Unionist, his scholars all being southern in their sympathies. Mr. Johnson sent the letter to Stanton, and Stanton sent it to Gen. Schenck, whereupon he was arrested. Mr. Gibson disclaimed having taught politics to his pupils, but boldly declared his opinion that the war was “unholy.” Upon being committed to jail, Mr. Gibson enquired if he had no political rights, to which the jocose and courteous tool of Gen. Schench, Col. Don Piatt, replied that if he should die in jail he would not be denied the rites of sepulture. So much for the freedom of opinion in Maryland.

Source: Biblical Recorder, October 21, 1863 (link)