Baptists and the American Civil War: March 16, 1865

North Carolina MapToday near Erwin, North Carolina the Battle of Averasborough takes place.

Having conquered Fayetteville, Sherman‘s army is in route to Goldsboro when Confederate resistance is encountered. Although outnumbered some 5-1, the Rebels briefly hold up the Federals’ advance, although not nearly long enough to blunt Sherman’s progress through the state.

Part of the fighting this day revolves around the meeting house of the Pleasant Union Baptist Church near Big Swamp, which by the end of the day is no more.

Needing wood to replace a bridge burned by the Confederates, Sherman’s Fourth Division tears down the nearby Baptist Church, in addition to felling trees in the area, in order to construct a new bridge some 180 feet long.

Not only is the South losing the war on the battlefield, but many Southern Baptists are of the opinion that the Confederate Army is losing the battle with alcohol.

Today’s Virginia Baptist Religious Herald publishes a commentary on alcohol and the army, reflecting a major concern among many White Baptists of the South.

A missionary in the Army of Northern Virginia writes to the N.C. Christian Advocate: “I preach and labor for the soldier’s salvation; he is impressed with a sense of his lost condition, and begins a reformation; he stops swearing and reads the Bible; he attends regularly to the preaching of the gospel, and my hope of his conversion grows stronger day by day. But alas, in the beginning of his reformation and my hope, he gets a box, with brandy or whiskey in it, from home. The temptation is too strong; he drinks the fatal draught, and all is lost. O, ye fathers, mothers, wives, could you see the evil you are committing, the prospects you are blighting, the souls you are preparing for hell, doubtless it would startle you; and I call on you, in the name of God and humanity, to send no more liquor to the army.”

Sources: Battle of Averasborough (link) and (link); “Ten Days of Hell” (link); “Sending Strong Drink to the Army,” Religious Herald, March 16, 1865