Sunday, March 02, 2008

Sunday in the Western Theater

For a time in the first part of the war, ancestors on both sides of the family - mine and my wife's - were serving in the same part of the Confederate Army. A number of our North Carolina forefathers were in the 29th N.C. Infantry, commanded by Col. Robert B. Vance; my wife's ancestor, Capt. Samuel C. Godshall, served in the 11th Tennessee under General Rains (and in fact, Vance was in command of Rains' brigade after that officer was killed).

One of the religious histories of the war related a chaplain's visit to these units in the spring of 1863, somewhere in central Tennessee:
Rev. S. M. Cherry, one of the most devoted chaplains in the army, gives an account of the revival at this period in McCown’s division, to which he was attached as chaplain of the 2d Georgia battalion. … “While riding on,” says Mr. Cherry, “I met with Rev. Dr. Bunting, chaplain of the Texas Rangers, who kindly consented to preach for us. We found General Ector’s Texas brigade, and Colonel Vance’s brigade, of North Carolina and Georgia troops, concentrated in a glade of rough rocks and gloomy cedars. Both commanders are official Church-members, and never object to preaching even on the outpost. Soon one thousand of our soldiers were grouped about the spot selected for Sabbath morning service. It was a grand sight to behold such a vast assemblage, seated upon the rugged rocks, to listen eagerly to the words of life. … While all listened so attentively, I could be contrast the scene with the bloody charge made by the same men when the gallant General Rains fell upon a spot very similar to our preaching place. The theme of the preacher was: ‘Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap,’ and strong were his arguments and earnest his appeals to impress indeliby upon their hearts the truths of his sermon.”
From Chapter XVII, “Spring of 1863”, in William Wallace Bennett, A Narrative of the Great Revival which Prevailed in the Southern Armies, (Philadelphia: Claxton, Remsen & Haffelfinger, 1877), pp. 266-266 (Accessed via Google Books, 2 Mar 2008).

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