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The Immediate Providence

Robert Lewis Dabney's belief in divine providence was well known among the officers of Stonewall's brigade. A story told about him is that at the Battle of Malvern Hill, shortly after Dabney had preached a message on God's providence (during which he had declared, "Every shot and shell and bullet was directed by the God of battles"), the staff members came under heavy enemy fire, and Jackson ordered them to take cover.

One staff member saw Dabney hunkered down behind a large fence post and teased him, "Why Dr. Dabney, if the God of battles directs every shot, why do you want to put a gatepost between you and a special providence?"

Dabney replied, "Why just here the gatepost IS the special providence!"

This account is an excerpt from Christ in Camp and Combat: Religious Work in the Confederate Armies by Dennis L. Peterson. Available in Kindle and paperback versions on

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