Baptists and the American Civil War: February 28, 1865

Scenes from Savannah 1862The month of February draws to a close with four major, strategic cities of the Deep South under Union control: Atlanta, Savannah, Columbia and Charleston. In addition, the port city of Wilmington, North Carolina is also occupied, leaving the Confederacy with no ports from which to sail naval vessels. With the Union coastal blockade now complete, what little commerce the South had managed to retain with Britain is effectively brought to a close.

Now, as spring approaches, attention is trained upon Virginia, where Confederate General Robert E. Lee‘s Army of the Northern Virginia, desperately trying to prevent Federal forces from attacking Richmond, represents the lone remaining hope for the Confederacy. If Lee can somehow gain the upper hand in Virginia, surely, some white Southerners yet want to believe, the tide of the war can be turned.

Today, however, proves to be yet another disappointment for the Confederacy, as General Jubal A. Early orders the evacuation of Staunton. Everyone where one turns, there seems to be little to no hope for the Confederacy. Many white Baptists share in the despondency.

Black Baptists, meanwhile, have more hope than ever. The most common faith represented among freedmen, black Baptist churches along the Union-controlled Southern coast are thriving. In Savannah and elsewhere, black churches previously forced to function under the supervision of white ministers are now free of such restraints, while new, autonomous congregations in the South form on seemingly a weekly basis.

Sources: Catherine M. Wright, “Staunton During the Civil War,” Encyclopedia Virginia (link)