The Tragic Conflict: The Civil War and Reconstruction

By William B. Hesseltine | Go to book overview

13
Spiritual Welfare:

IN THE NORTH

Horatio B.Hackett

Scattered over the battlefields and camping-grounds of the present war are consecrated spots, Bethels, every one of them sacred to some soul who there held sweet communion with God. A laborer in the work of the Christian Commission gives the following account of a prayer-meeting which was organized and held for a time, in the churchyard of a village, near Fredericksburg, in Virginia.

Prayer-meetings (he says) had been held previously every evening, and many souls, I trust, converted to God. In the Seventh Michigan, especially, a glorious work commenced erelong, and I trust that it has been carried on by the Holy Spirit of God, and that eternity will reveal glorious results which God wrought for the souls of these earnest, truth-seeking men. Before leaving them, I assisted in organizing a prayer-meeting of their own. Nine or ten, sometimes more, faithful young men, retired every evening after roll-call to their little retreat, and there they prayed together, and talked together to strengthen each other in faith and love. That retreat was the village churchyard. Around a broad, flat, old-fashioned tombstone, as an altar, this faithful little band met, and God met with them and blessed them....

These faithful, Christian young men did not forget their prayer-meeting when the fortunes of war called them away from this chosen spot. They still met as often as the evening came. On one of the evenings during the battle of Gettysburg, when the hour arrived for the meeting, some of the wonted attendants were present, but it was found that some of the most devoted had that day fallen as sacrifices on the altar of their country. They

HORATIO. B. HACKETT, Christian Memorials of the War ( Boston, 1864), Ch. v.

The moral and religious life of the soldiers received full attention from churches who supplied chaplains, distributed Bibles and tracts, and sent evangelists to the armies. In the North the United States Christian Commission co-ordinated the work of Protestant denominations and often ministered to the physical needs of soldiers in hospitals. The South had no Christian Commission, but the spiritual welfare of the Confederate soldiers received full attention. A revival spread through the Southern armies."

-216-

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