Baptists and the American Civil War: January 30, 1865

South Carolina Civil War MapFormed in the 1780s, the Robertville Baptist Church today falls victim to the Civil War. Sherman’s troops, descending upon the town that serves as a crossroads between Savannah, Augusta and Charleston, also destroy a number of other structures in Robertville, including many businesses and homes.

Located just inside the state line and about four miles from the Savannah River, Robertville thus becomes the first of the state’s city to experience the wrath of Sherman’s troops. As one soldier shouted out upon landing on the South Carolina side of the river and marching toward Robertville, “Boys, this is old South Carolina, let’s give her hell.”

The residents of the state that started the war are fearful that many other of her cities will go up in flames before the Federals are satisfied.

Meanwhile, the Richmond Daily Dispatch reports on Christian calls for slavery reforms in the manner of recognizing the legitimacy of slave marriages.

The Protestant and Catholic clergy of the Confederacy are calling attention to the duty of enforcing the sanctity of the marriage relation among slaves. The Baptist Convention of Georgia has adopted an emphatic resolution upon this subject. The Southern Churchman quotes various religious authorities, setting forth the sinfulness of any neglect by masters of this Christian duty; among them Bishop Verot, (Roman Catholic Bishop of Savannah,) who says: ‘”Slavery, to become a permanent institution of the South, must be made to conform to the law of God; a Southern Confederacy will never thrive unless it rests upon morality and order; the Supreme Arbiter of Nations will not bless with stability and prosperity a state of things which would be a flagrant violation of His holy commandments.”

White Christian leaders of the South, in short, remain committed to the permanence of black slavery. The institution, they yet insist, is of God but has not yet been perfected.

Sources: “Church History,” Robertville Baptist Church (link); John F. Marszalek, Sherman: A Soldier’s Passion for Order, Southern Illinois University University, 2007, pp. 320-321 (link); Christopher G. Crabb, Facing Sherman in South Carolina: March Through the Swamps, Charleston, SC: History Press, 2010, pp. 30-31 (link); “Religious Duties of Masters to Slaves,” Richmond Daily Dispatch, January 30, 1865 (link)