Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Army of Northern Virginia and Religion

As in every army, drunkenness and vice were abundantly present in the Army of Northern Virginia. Still, it was not uncommon to find soldiers forming around campfires in prayer groups. There was a general demand in the army for small Bibles. “Soldiers are so eager for them that they frequently say they will give several months wages for one.” When the war broke out nearly all the great publishing houses were in the North.

Although the first Confederate Bible was printed in Nashville in 1861, and although the British Bible Society made liberal donations of its publications, religious material was in such scarce supply that many officers lamented, “Our brave boys must beg in vain for Bibles.”

One officer who was acutely concerned with the spiritual well being of his men was General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Jackson made a profession of faith in November, 1851 and thereafter energetically took up his new commitment. Jackson encouraged congregations to send chaplains to the army, “…who are your best men.” Men with strong commitment..who would not be put off.

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