It was April 1861, and the war came.
Thousands of eager volunteers rushed to defend the Confederacy. They were eager to return home after a short war, covered with honor and glory.
But what they discovered was much different: shocking scenes of sudden death, gruesome wounds, fatal diseases, and the hardships, boredom, and temptations of army life--and the reality of a long war.
Rising to meet the many spiritual needs of the soldiers--more importantly their need to be prepared for eternity--were the chaplains, missionaries, and colporteurs.
Laboring--sometimes with the support of believing officers, such as "Stonewall" Jackson and Robert E. Lee, but often without it--these men set aside denominational differences for the sake of men's souls. Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and others sowed the seed and reaped the harvest.
Some of those who ministered were generals, such as Leonidas Polk and William Pendleton. Others were medical doctors, such as Charles Quintard. Some were renowned theologians, such as Robert Lewis Dabney, E.M. Bounds, and John Broadus. Most, however, were relative unknowns. But they all contributed valuable spiritual service.
As a result, revivals swept through the armies of the South. Hundreds, even thousands, were led to the Savior, including generals Richard Ewell, Joseph Johnston, and John B. Hood. Estimates of the number of souls saved range from 45,000 to 150,000. Only God knows for sure.
After the war, the survivors returned home to help their churches and communities rebuild during the trying days of Reconstruction.
My soon-to-be-published book from TouchPoint Press, Christ in Camp and Combat, tells the story of religious work during that great conflict. It's the story of God's working His plan for spiritual good in terrible times. And the examples of the faithful chaplains, missionaries, and colporteurs offers us hope in our own times of trial.
Stay tuned to this blog for the upcoming announcement of the release of Christ in Camp and Combat: Religious Work in the Confederate Armies.