Baptists and the American Civil War: February 16, 1865

Civil War States MapMarching upon Columbia, South Carolina’s capital, Sherman‘s troops discover that the Gervais Street Bridge over the Congaree River has been burned by retreating Confederate soldiers. Sherman orders Union artillery to target the railway station and the partly-constructed new state house.

Amidst the firing, the Union general orders his troops northward, to the lone remaining bridge on the approach to Columbia. The route takes the Federals past Camp Sorghum, a former open air prison camp which at one time help almost 1,500 Federals. The site of the infamous camp further stokes the anger and resolve of Union soldiers.

Burning a mill along the route, Union troops arrive at the Broad River Bridge just as the structure goes up in flames.

Once again, Federal efforts to invade Columbia have been thwarted. In a driving rain Union forces wait until darkness.

Meanwhile, Georgia Baptist Christian Index editor Samuel Boykin this day asks his readers to “Pray for the Country.”

Now is the time for patriots to pray for their country …. Sherman is advancing into … South Carolina …. [but we will] never give over this contest …. [until] self-government is achieved. Pray, thee, Christian friends … surely He will hear and answer!

Mount Pisgah Baptist Church of Durham, North Carolina also voices support for and prayers on behalf of the Confederacy.

February, 1865 – The church convined in conference and in the absence of the pastor Brother Wm. Yates was called on to preside as moderator. Bro. P. H. McDade presented himself from the Chapel Hill Baptist Church for membership with a letter of recommendation stating that he was a deacon in that church and had acted as their church clerk for many years. Received. A charge was brought against Lucetta Williams for fornication which it was understood she admitted the evidence being such the church excluded her from its fellowship. The church agreed to observe the 10th day of next month as a day of fasting, prayer, and praise to almighty God for his blessing upon our country in compliance with the request of the congress and president of the Confederacy. Bro. Wm. Yates, moderator. C.R. Scott, clerk.

If God is yet to intervene on behalf of the Confederacy, there is little time left.

Sources: “General Sherman’s March on Columbia, South Carolina” (link); “Pray for the Country,” Christian Index, February 16, 1865; Mount Pisgah Baptist Church Minutes, Durham, NC (link);