Baptists and the American Civil War: October 19, 1864

Lewis Raymond, Baptist minister, Chaplain of 51st Illinois

Lewis Raymond, Baptist minister, Chaplain of 51st Illinois

In Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley this day, Union forces deal a decisive blow to Confederates in the Battle of Cedar Creek.

So conclusive is the Federal victory over Confederate General Jubal Early‘s army that Confederate resistance in the valley effectively comes to an end.

Meanwhile, in Bridgeport, Alabama, Lewis Raymond, Baptist minister and chaplain of the Illinois 51st Regiment (that had participated in the battle for Atlanta), awakens to a new reality: he has submitted his resignation as regimental chaplain, and now he looks forward to returning to civilian life. While having served willingly and happily, the Baptist chaplain is glad to put aside the hardships of army life.

Raymond lists his reasons for resigning his commission as chaplain:

1) I have cheerfully performed my duty in that position for more than three years (3), most of the time on the front, with my Reg’t since my “muster in,” and two of my sons entered the service in 1861, showing our disposition as a family to share the privations and perils of this war.

2) The condition of my family, having no son at home of sufficient age to attend to their wants, and, intelligence just received of financial matters that may involve me in serious losses unless I can give my personal attention to them, demand my retirement from the service as soon as I can honorably do so.

3) Our late severe campaign [through Georgia], the latter part of which, my horse having died, compelling me to march on foot over 100 miles, has affected my health so that at fifty-seven years of age (57), I do not feel equal to the winter campaign.

Feeling unable myself to determine whether I could be promptly mustered out of a regiment that had re-enlisted as “Veterans,” I take this method of expressing my desire to the gallant commanders of this army to be honorably discharged from the service.

The “Historical Memorandum” of the regiment notes:

… the Regt bade adieu to Chaplain Raymond …. He had been from the first a zealous hard working man ever alive to the interests of his flock—leaving now because, being long past the meridian of life, he felt himself unequal to the hardships of a winter campaign.

Raymond’s resignation is accepted. On November 6 he is once again a civilian. Returning North, the Baptist minister briefly resumes the pastorate of his old church in Peoria, before retiring in Chicago. Raymond dies at the age of eighty, on December 10, 1887.

Sources: Battle of Cedar Creek (link) and (link); “Lewis Raymond, Regimental Chaplain” (link)