Baptists and the American Civil War: October 9, 1864

sherman_mapThis month many Baptist churches and associational assemblies throughout the South hold special prayer meetings for the Confederacy. Dark are the clouds descending over the nation, hiding the face of God from his people.

In Tennessee near Knoxville, the Gallaher Baptist Church prays and fasts, calling on God to bring peace to the land.

In Alabama, the Alabama Baptist Association today concludes three days of meetings that have included prayers for the Confederacy.

Many other white Baptists of the South, especially in the mountainous regions of the South, are ready to surrender to the North. The institution of black slavery has brought little if any benefit to them, even as military service in the defense of slaveowners’ rights has visited death upon many of their families.

Union General William T. Sherman is also ready for the war to come to a close. Today he voices his thoughts on a new campaign that he has been working on, a campaign that has as its goal the subjugation of white Southerners. The road to putting down the rebellion, the general believes, lies in the heart of Georgia.

It will be a physical impossibility to protect the roads, now that Hood, Forrest, Wheeler, and the whole batch of devils, are turned loose without home or habitation. I think Hood’s movements indicate a diversion to the end of the Selma & Talladega road, at Blue Mountain, about sixty miles southwest of Rome, from which he will threaten Kingston, Bridgeport, and Decatur, Alabama. I propose that we break up the railroad from Ohattanooga forward, and that we strike out with our wagons for Milledgeville, Millen, and Savannah. Until we can repopulate Georgia, it is useless for us to occupy it; but the utter destruction of its roads, houses, and people, will cripple their military resources. By attempting to hold the roads, we will lose a thousand men each month, and will gain no result. I can make this march, and make Georgia howl! We have on hand over eight thousand head of cattle and three million rations of bread, but no corn. We can find plenty of forage in the interior of the State.

The war has been ugly and brutal all along. It may take yet more of the same, at a new level of intensity, to force the nearly powerless Confederacy to wave the white flag of surrender.

Sources: “Gallaher Baptist Church Homecoming, October 3,” Knoxville News, September 8, 2010 (link); “Minutes of the forty-fifth session of the Alabama Baptist Association, held with the Fort Deposit Baptist Church, Lowndes Co., Ala., on the 7th, 8th and 9th October, 1864″ (link); William T. Sherman, Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman (link)