Preachers Fought Too: (Rev. Andrew Jackson Eldred: Born, March 20, 1825, in Catskill, New York, Died, June 26, 1910, in Traverse City, Michigan.)
The need for religious services within the United States Military is well documented in the relatively brief period since the Founders affixed their signatures to the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776. April 14, 1818, Congress reduced the size of the peace time Army eliminating chaplains, surgeons, and judge advocates. Chaplains did, however, continue serving in State Militia. 210 Chaplains were serving during this time with one active Chaplain at the United States Military Academy at West Point, charged with ministering to the cadets.
In 1825-26, the United States Army Chaplaincy, 1791-1865, Volume II, records a massive religious revival at West Point under the Chaplaincy of Charles McIvaine, who had been appointed to the academy, January 1, 1825, by the Secretary of War, John C. Calhoun. Cadet Leonidas Polk approached Chaplain McIvaine, an Episcopalian from Princeton, requesting reading material on the subject of religious inquiry. McIvaine provided cadet Polk some tracts which struck Polk’s heart leading to his marvelous conversion.
Polk was earnestly concerned as to the disposition of his fellow cadets with his new-found faith. Chaplain McIvaine urged his new convert to make a public confession. It was a Saturday. The next day, Sunday, during chapel, cadet Polk kneeled at the altar to symbolically demonstrate his Christian commitment. Present that memorable day, were cadets Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston, Joseph E. Johnson, Jefferson Davis, and Robert Anderson. Each would serve with the Armies pitted against one another 36 years later. Polk, who was commissioned a Bishop with the Episcopalian denomination, would become a General with the Confederacy, loosing his life from an artillery shell fired at the order of General William Tecumseh Sherman.
During the Civil War, chaplains were primarily attached to regiments, and occasionally, to a Brigade. Most, were honored on the level of a captain’s rank, and often were provided a horse. In addition to providing religious services for the troops, they were often present on the field of battle succoring the wounded and dying. Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians, and Roman Catholic clerics dominated both Northern and Southern Armies. One Union Army chaplain, Andrew Jackson Eldred (A. J. Eldred), found himself with Grant’s Army at Shiloh, in April, 1862.
Eldred assisted in raising the 12th Michigan Volunteers from the Niles area, which was attached to Grant’s Army at Shiloh, and later served as aide to General Prentiss during the siege of Vicksburg on the Mississippi, which fell to Grant, July 4, 1863, the day after the battle of Gettysburg. Eldred, according to the commemorative record of the 75th Anniversary of the First Methodist - Episcopal Church, May 20-21, 1911, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, took an active part in the Battle of Shiloh, putting himself in great personal danger, and would have received recognition for his action, but for the cowardly conduct of a superior.
Eldred was licensed to preach in 1844, becoming a circuit rider the following year in the Kalmazoo district. He was ordained a Deacon in 1848 and Elder in full connection in 1850. He was known throughout Michigan as a great orator when only 16 and commissioned with an Exhorter’s License. Among his many accomplishments was the formation of the First Methodist society on the west side of Grand Rapids on Division street, where he oversaw the construction of a building. He twice pastored the church in 1852-53, and 1866-69.
During his first appointment in the church, he refused to miss his pulpit duty due to illness. Suffering severe hemorrhaging of the lungs he nonetheless occupied the pulpit as usual. With forceful, eloquent pleas, Eldred so stirred the people that revival broke-out that very day, with meetings continuing nightly for several weeks. The entire city was awakened, with the revival being endorsed by Protestants and Catholics alike, noting that the moral character of the community had been significantly affected!
Eldred left the regiment in 1864 and returned to Michigan. He was appointed to the Methodist-Episcopal Church in Albion, from the Conference held that year in Niles. Men were esteemed as much for their loyalty to the Union as for their religious persuasion during the war years. Church laity, knowing Eldred was a Democrat, believed he had left his regiment because he endorsed the Democratic peace platform of giving the South their wish to be independent. laity sent word to the Bishop they would not pay Eldred if he, indeed, came to Albion.
Eldred accepted the appointment informing the Bishop God was his source not the Albion church. True to their word, the church did not pay him a salary and many left in protest. When asked his politics, he replied, “I am an ambassador of the Lord Jesus Christ, and I am here on His business.” He set about repairing the building and preaching with power the gospel. Soon, converts filled the church with many prominent businessmen coming to Christ. Church records reflect Eldred’s pastorate saw the greatest revival in the church’s history through 1913.
The church not only paid his back wages, but doubled the customary salary. Church benevolence multiplied two times over the previous year and the church rose in prestige to an all time high with the moral life of the community thoroughly aroused.
Preachers made a difference on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line providing Christian ministry to all American soldiers. Revivals among the various Armies have been thoroughly documented. In the years from 1862-65 in Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, some 15,000 men were swept into the Kingdom. One account estimates over 150,000 converts were produced in all the Confederate Armies. Men, called of God to the preaching of the gospel, were a Divine Connection to America’s bloodstained past.
Dennis L. Kutzner, Founder & President
GETTYSBURG CAMPFIRES, INC.
* Information concerning the United States Military Academy at West Point was taken from the United States Army Chaplaincy, 1791-1865, Volumes I and II, Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island, New York.
* Information concerning Andrew Jackson Eldred taken from the Michigan archives of the Methodist Church, in the library of Albion College, Albion, Michigan, which includes: Volume I of the 75th Anniversary of the Methodist-Episcopal Church of Grand Rapids, and the Michigan Conference Ministers, 1908-11, page 393.
* Information concerning Andrew Jackson Eldred’s Albion, Michigan, pastorate, found in the History of Calhoun County, Michigan, Volume I, Methodism in Albion, Michigan, History of the Methodist-Episcopal Church, Published by the Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York, 1913, authored by Washington Gardner, pages 460-461, located in the Marshall, Michigan, public library.
* Statistics concerning numbers converted in the Army of Northern Virginia, "Christ in the Camp, or Religion in the Confederate Army" by Rev. J. William Jones, D.D., first published in 1887 by B. F. Johnson & Co., and 1904 by The Martin & Hoyt Co., and 1986, by Sprinkle Publications, Harrisonburg, Virginia, pages 390-91.
Chaplains: The Soldier's Pastor: (Dr. Rev. Edward McKendree Bounds, D. D., Born, August 15, 1835, Died, August 24, 1913. His remains are at rest in the Resthaven Cemetery in Washington, Georgia.)
Edward McKendree Bounds is best remembered for his marvelous research into the life of prayer. Preachers who are over forty only need to hear the name E. M. Bounds mentioned and they immediately know the subject is prayer! Walk into most Christian Bookstores and it is likely one of Bounds' books will be displayed in the prayer section. Most, however, will know little to nothing of his experience as a Civil War Chaplain.
Born in Shelby County in northeastern Missouri, his father was the county clerk and their home was used for the court's sessions, which very likely inspired Bounds to prepare for a law profession. Passing the bar before his nineteenth birthday, he practiced law until age twenty-four, when he declared his divine call to preach. Monticello, Missouri, was his first pastoral charge.
It was perilous times and Missouri was caught in the middle of the slavery issue which was literally tearing the young nation apart. The Missouri Compromise had been repealed by the efforts of Illinois' "little giant," Stephen A. Douglas. One of the border states, Missouri was home to northern and southern sympathizers. The state legislature declared allegiance to the United States and Union soldiers began rooting out and jailing those southern sympathizers.
Bounds pastored a congregation of the newly formed Methodist Episcopal Church, South, which had resulted in the North-South polarization of the slave issue. Arrested in Brunswick, Missouri, by Union soldiers and charged as a non-combatant Confederate sympathizer in 1861, Bounds spent the next year and a half in a Federal prison in St. Louis. Released in a prisoner exchange in Memphis, Tennessee, he swore an oath to the Confederate Army as a Chaplain to the 3rd Missouri Infantry Regiment. It was apparent his incarceration did not reform his sympathy with the South!
The 3rd Missouri made its way in 1864 to Franklin, Tennessee, in John Bell Hood's Army of Tennessee. Hood had been a Divisional Commander in Longstreet's Corps in the Army of Northern Virginia (Lee's Army) being wounded in his left arm in the vicious blood-letting near Little Round Top at Gettysburg, July 2, 1863. He lost his right leg, being amputated from a bone-shattering bullet wound at Chickamaugua, while a portion of Longstreet's Corps was temporarily attached to the Army of Tennessee, which in September of 1863 was commanded by Braxton Bragg. With the fall of Atlanta 14 months later, Hood replaced Joseph E. Johnston as the head of the Army of Tennessee.
The battle of Franklin, Tennessee, near Nashville, by some accounts was the last great charge mounted by any Confederate army. The spirit in which the Army of Tennessee approached the decisive battle of the Atlanta campaign, to a great extent, was the feeling which caused Hood to hurl his troops against enemy breast-works with almost maniacal abandon and those troops to respond with a reckless courage unsurpassed in history!
November 30, 1864, without adequate artillery and over the protests of his officers, the gallant Hood ordered the attack against an enemy of approximately his own strength, but strongly entrenched. 20,000 Confederate troops paraded toward death in what is considered by many to have been the most magnificent charge in military history. Nearing the entrenched line of the Federal army, the attacking Confederates responded to the first volley from skirmishers with the wild rebel yell, which once heard was never forgotten!
In the end, Hood lost 6,000 men! 2000 of this number lay dead! The next morning Hood rode to the site of the demise seeing the hideous and sprawled bodies of the dead and hearing the moaning of the wounded and dying. The closer he came to that acre of hell the more numerous became the bodies. On the other side of the rifle pits were the mingled bodies of the Blue and Gray lying lifeless across one another. This was Franklin, and these morbid dead would never rally to the Stars and Bars again!
It was on that field that Chaplain E. M. Bounds remained until captured by Union blue bellies, faithfully offering religious solace to the wounded and dying. They were his sheep and he their shepherd. He knew all too well their agonizing cries for mercy. And he would not leave them. Not even to escape prison again. And so once more he found himself a POW of the Yankees. He was released after Hood's second defeat at Nashville, upon taking the oath of loyalty to the United States, returning to the battlefield at Franklin to pastor the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
He met Emma Elizabeth Barnett (pronounced Barn' ett) from Washington, Georgia, who was a school teacher. After being transferred to a St. Louis pastorate, the couple were married in 1876. Three children were born. Emma died eight years after their marriage. Around 1886, Bounds married Emma's cousin, Harriet Elizabeth Barnett. Apparently, Emma had secretly requested that her cousin, Harriet, take care of her husband in case she died. Whether Bounds new this is questionable. It was not uncommon, however, for such chain-of-events in the late 19th century.
To this union were born three sons and three daughters. Two of the boys died within one year of each other. The family remained in St. Louis where Bounds accepted the post of associate editor of the St. Louis Advocate, later moving to Nashville to the task of associate editor of the Christian Advocate, the weekly paper of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South denomination, and in 1894 moved his family to Washington, Georgia, to live his remaining nineteen years in the Barnett house, which today is the home of Washington's Historical Society.
Before his death, Bounds published two books. Nine manuscripts were printed after his death in book form by two of his close friends, Howard W. Hodge and Claude L. Chilton. Hodge said of Bounds, "he was meek and humble, and never did we know him to retaliate upon any of his enemies. He cried over them and wept praying for them early and late."
Hodge also remarked that Bounds was at rest in Washington's cemetery without marble covering. In February of 1999, I walked through that cemetery looking for the distinctive grave markers of the Civil War soldiers buried there, recording the names, companies, and regiments they served in the book I keep with me when I am on the road. A friend that day called me to come to the grave of a Civil War chaplain he had discovered. As I began writing the name in my book I gasped, "Edward McKendree Bounds, E. M. Bounds!"
His headstone is a simple one, containing his name, date of birth and date of death. It also contains the same information of his second wife, Harriet Elisabeth Barnett Bounds. That is all. Nothing that says he was the author of so many books on prayer that have survived and thrived for nearly a century since his death. Nothing to indicate he was unsurpassed since the days of the Apostles in the depths of prayer.
But, at his feet there is another stone. The familiar white roof-like tipped stone of the Confederate States of America, noting that he was the Chaplain of the 3rd Missouri Infantry Regiment. The men of 1861-1865, who survived into the 20th century always had a memorable view of the past. They realized all too well the enormous sacrifice they and their fallen comrades had paid for the preservation of the Union.
Prior to the Civil War America is referred to in publications as, "The United Sates of America are," but after the Civil War, one will always read, "The United States of America is." Anyone who has immersed himself in the record of that colossal conflict understands why, to E. M. Bounds and all the other 4 million soldiers North and South who participated in that bloody struggle, being remembered for their undeniable devotion to freedom's cause was and is their legacy.
Some, who died on the many fields of sorrow, were fortunate indeed to have men like Chaplain E. M. Bounds kneel over them and offer comfort and prayer in their dying moment. And we are fortunate too, to have the record of one pastor, who truly stands out as an honored soldier of the Christian Army.
Dennis L. Kutzner, Founder & President
GETTYSBURG CAMPFIRES, INC.
* Material used includes: "Power Through Prayer," by E. M. Bounds, published by Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1991; "A Treasury of Prayer," the best of E. M. Bounds, compiled by Leonard Ravenhill, published by Bethany House Publishers, Minnesota, 11th printing, 1981, copyright, 1961; and "The Gallant Hood," by John P. Dyer, published by Smithmark Publishers, New York, 1994, pages 210-11, 289, 291-92, 295.
An Irish Priest in the Irish Brigade
The only bronze statue on the Gettysburg battlefield dedicated to a Chaplain is that of Father William Corby. Perhaps, the only memorial to a Chaplain on any Civil War battlefield! You will see Corby's statue while passing north on United States Avenue, near the Weikert Farm, and just a few yards south of the largest monument on the field, the Pennsylvania Monument. Corby's likeness stands on a rock east of the avenue looking west, with his left hand on his chest and his right lifted with palm open, giving general absolution to the men of the Irish Brigade, moments before they entered some of the hardest fighting of the battle, in and near the Wheatfield, July 2, 1863.
Reading other testimonies from the Irish Brigade, Father William Corby was every bit a soldier, and unequaled as a shepherd. He genuinely cared for the men he considered his sheep. Brevet Brigadier General St. Clair Mulholland of the 116th Pennsylvania and Major W. L. D. O'Grady of the 88th New York initiated a campaign to acquire the Congressional Medal of Honor for Corby, stating he was a "Fighting Chaplain," who had unfailing joined his men, even under fire, to do his duty. No spot was too dangerous or too much exposed to the fire of the enemy, that he would ever consider abandoning them. General Mulholland requested the medal be awarded Corby for his, "very gallant and most remarkable act in preaching a most patriotic sermon and administering the religious rite of General Absolution on the battlefield at Gettysburg." Major O'Grady insisted that William Corby was, "a man whose courage was not surpassed by the bravest soldier of our armies, whose unflinching devotion on the march, in camp and under fire, made him eminent, whose magnificent conduct at Gettysburg has become historical, one of the most picturesque and beautiful incidents of that great drama."
Among the normal and routine duties of a Civil War Chaplain, was the preparation and proclamation of the Bible, the conducting of religious services, counseling, and the service of communion, and if a Catholic Priest, the hearing of confession. Too many chaplains did only what was expected of them and nothing more, and all too often with a critical and complaining spirit, which did nothing to endear them to their regiment(s). One story at Gettysburg is of such a chaplain who entered a barn, which was serving as a hospital and began preaching, when the soldiers, both Union and Confederate who were patients there shouted him down forcing him to leave. This was not the case, however, with Father William Corby.
Corby's father was born in Ireland in King County, emigrated to Canada, and married Corby's mother in Montreal in 1824. They moved to Detroit, Michigan, in 1826, where William was born in 1833. His father sent he and two younger brothers to the recently and struggling University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, in 1853. It was here that William Corby entered the Priesthood and took his final vows in 1860. By the next year, 1861, Corby was director of the Manual Labor School and pastor of what became St. Patrick's parish in the city of South Bend. The outbreak of Civil War would forever change his direction.
The Roman Catholic Church took no official position on the war. Being left out in the cold, so to speak, by the Protestant majority, and with suspicions that their foreign allegiances threatened the republic, for the church to take sides would have labeled Catholics as traitors to either the Union or the Confederacy. For individual Catholics neutrality was impossible, wherever they lived.
The founder of the university, Father Edward Sorin, was able to keep unity within the faculty and student body, though his sympathies lay with the Federal Government. Seven priests were sent to serve as Union chaplains and over eighty sisters to help nurse the sick and wounded in Union hospitals, but there was to be no discussion of favoring one side or the other on the University campus. Because of such a policy southerners continued to attend Notre Dame alongside those with northern sympathies, including the children of William Tecumseh Sherman!
Father Corby in the fall of 1861 began his chaplain duties by working with another Catholic priest, James Dillon, who was chaplain of the 63rd New York Volunteer Infantry, one of the three regiments that made up the famous Irish Brigade, then commanded by Thomas Francis Meagher. It was not long until Corby was assigned to the 88th New York as chaplain.
When Congress created the position of chaplain it never defined the position's responsibilities, nor granted any authority within the command structure. Eventually, chaplains were given the pay allowance of captains of cavalry. Then in 1864 Congress finally declared that chaplains would hold the rank of captain, but noted the rank was without command. Chaplains, therefore, had to individually work out their duties and whatever authority they achieved was by the respect they earned from the men they served as shepherd.
Unfortunately, the soldiers, including officers, often regarded chaplains with disdain and little respect that the duties they performed were of any value. Considered useless, most comments were derogatory and very few men expressed appreciation for chaplains. William Corby was one giant exception!
Preparing the souls of condemned men before execution was one responsibility that Corby took most serious. Quoting from Corby's "Memoirs of Chaplain Life," concerning a certain condemned man, Corby writes that once he had baptized the condemned man, noting he was now a Christian, he exhorted him to "offer your life to God in union with the sufferings of Christ on the cross," further commenting he noticed a genuine softening in the soldier's disposition, with the light of faith showing in his countenance.
Corby writes as to the end of this chilling event that the condemned man, "had only a few moments to live, and when the squad of armed men came to escort him to death, he went out as coolly as if he were going to dinner. Eight or ten thousand troops were drawn up in a hollow square, with one end of the square vacant. The condemned man was placed at the end. A squad of twelve men, with muskets loaded by one of the sergeants, came forward. According to rule, the sergeant puts no ball in one of the guns, and no one of the soldiers knows whether his gun has a ball in it or not. The twelve soldiers, under the command of an officer, stood in front of the condemned man. The sentence was read and the provost-marshal drew a cap over the man's eyes. Then the officer gave the stern commands: 'Get ready, aim, fire!' Eleven bullets struck the young man; still he was not dead. The provost-marshal was obliged to use his own revolver, to put him out of pain. Scenes like this jarred my nerves much more than a battle. And now, when more than a quarter of a century has passed since this took place, it causes a shuddering sensation to think of it; still more to write all the circumstances of such a dreadful spectacle."
The Good Shepherd knows his sheep, the Bible says, and Father William Corby certainly knew his congregation. The men of the 88th New York and the other regiments of the Irish Brigade, knew and fully appreciated the man who identified with them in a soldier's life. Fighting actually took up very little of that life. Most of it was spent in boring hours in camp, drilling, drilling, drilling, marching many miles, sometimes all day and end with sleeping on the ground, too often in a drenching downpour. There was too little solid food, and not much in the way of delicacies. As many men died of disease as did mortal wounds on the battlefield.
Pastor Corby experienced everything that the men he served experienced, which won for him their love and honored respect. This was made vivid when Father Corby attended the 25th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. The Irish Brigade veterans by the scores tearfully embraced their old chaplain indicating how very important he had been to them! His willingness to share in their hardships had brought spiritual and physical comfort to them in the midst of battle. His movement among the casualties on the field, giving assistance to the wounded and absolution to the dying, and his determined care for days after battles in the field hospitals forever stamped love on the hearts of these brothers in blood.
Father William Corby held in addition to his many titles at Notre Dame, the office of President more than once, but his heart was always with the men he served for four years during the darkest days of the United States. He gave tireless hours to preserving artifacts from the Irish Brigade and received the honor of being the Chaplain of the Irish Brigade in the early 1890s.
July 2nd of 1863 as Father Corby stood with the men of the Irish Brigade awaiting the order to advance, he asked Colonel Patrick Kelly's permission to address the men. With Kelly's leave he took from his pocket a purple stole, placing it around his neck. Climbing onto a large boulder to be clearly seen he viewed the men before him who would momentarily engage the enemy to their front with many loosing their life. There was no time to hear confessions this day, so he informed the Brigade he would pronounce a general absolution of sins for those who were sincerely contrite. He reminded them of the noble cause for which they fought and declared that the Church would turn its back on those who deserted their flag.
Beginning to recite the Latin words of absolution he raised his right hand over the columns, and every man fell to his knees, though all around them raged the battle. To their left was Devil's Den and Little Round Top, to the right, the Peach Orchard, but for a moment the part of the field they knelt on seemed to be still. Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, commander of the Second Corps, to which the Irish Brigade was attached was clearly moved by this scene and removed his hat and bowed his head.
Thirty-four years later at the age of 64, Father William Corby died from the complications of pneumonia, December 28, 1897, and at ten o'clock on the morning of the last day of that year, the hearse carried his body to its final resting place in the community cemetery on the shores of St. Mary's Lake. But, in a fitting departure from custom, the casket was not carried by priests. Aging Civil War veterans from the local Grand Army of the Republic (G. A. R.) were under his remains. His coffin wrapped in the flag of his old regiment was lowered into the grave while rifle volleys split the crisp December air. The last call of the bugle was trumpeted, and the veterans present sang the words: "Answering to the call of the roll on high, dropping from the ranks as they make reply, filling up the army of the by and by."
When you visit the hallowed field at Gettysburg and you drive past the statue of Father William Corby, pause long enough to hear the muffled din of battle while that faithful chaplain prays over the men of the Irish Brigade, and remember the awesome price that was paid by Americans to preserve our cherished freedoms, which allow us, above all peoples on the earth, the most lavish benefits. And may the inspiration of that moment cause you to take from that field a renewed commitment to the holy cause of winning the lost in the battle for men's souls.
Dennis L. Kutzner, Founder & President
GETTYSBURG CAMPFIRES, INC.
* "Memoirs of Chaplain Life," by William Corby, edited by Lawrence Frederick Kohl, published by Fordham University Press, 1992, Introduction by Lawrence Frederick Kohl, pages x - xxv, 126, 127.
* "The Irish Brigade and Its Campaigns," by David Power Conyngham, published by Fordham University Press, 1994.
Dwight L. Moody and the Civil War
Dwight. L. Moody was one of the great 19th Century Christian Warriors. After his death in December, 1899, telegrams, cables, letters, and resolutions from Christian Organizations worldwide were received without social distinction and concordant with their love and veneration for such a humble servant of God.
Memorial services were held across America and in several nations of the world. In England, St. James and Exeter Halls, Edinburgh and Glasgow in Ireland, and as far east as Japan, similar memorial services were held. Christian Leaders placed him among the last of the great group, Spurgeon, Brooks, Beecher, and Moody. Such notables as, F. B. Meyer, John R. Mott, C. I. Scofield, and G. Campbell Morgan, honored him with amicable eulogies.
So much remains of the work of love achieved by the tireless efforts of Moody and the students who have been trained by his commitment to the evangelism of lost souls. The pure beginnings of the Chicago Chapter of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) are owed to Moody.
Sunday, November 25, 1860, President-elect Abraham Lincoln in route to Washington, D. C., spent the morning in the midst of Moody’s students with the understanding he would not be asked to speak. But Moody, true to his unorthodox and independent nature, called to Mr. Lincoln as he rose to leave, “Mr. Lincoln has come to see the school on condition that he be not asked to speak. But if he wishes to say a word before leaving, we all have our ears open.” Lincoln stopped and looking around to the students, said, “I was once as poor as any boy in the school, but I am now President of the United States, and if you attend to what is taught you here, some one of you may yet be President.”
Moody was a Unionist and an Abolitionist. When the call went forth from the White House for 75,000 volunteers after the firing on Fort Sumter, 75 of Moody’s students rallied to the flag! Moody, himself, would not go owing to the needs of the school and on account of his personal pacifism. “I felt that I could not take a gun and shoot down a fellow being. In this respect I am a Quaker.” This assertion, however, did not dampen his recruiting efforts nor his eventual important part in spreading Christian love and care for the Civil War soldier.
Near the future site of the Illinois Institute of Technology, which was then a few miles south of the city of Chicago, a military encampment was set-up to train and process the thousands of citizen-soldiers gathering from all over the north-west. Camp Douglas was a ripe field of souls waiting to be harvested. Moody was eager to plunge into this sea of souls, and the struggling, newly-formed committee of the Chicago Chapter of the Young Men’s Christian Association provided him the foundation to satisfy his hunger to win the lost to Christ.
The Association’s principle work was the conducting of a noon prayer meeting in the Methodist Episcopal (North) church bloc. Moody was deputized by the YMCA to provide Christian assistance to the camp. In May of 1861, Moody was appointed ‘Librarian,’ with the understanding he would act as Agent for the Association as its City Missionary. These titles were all there was to it officially.
Moody experienced unmediated success from the regular services held in the camp. Innocent farm boys discovered new temptations they had not encountered until Camp Douglas. With the faithful preaching of Moody hundreds of young men responded to his unconventional approach to immediate conversion and an untold number of decks of cards were left at the altar!
As the War lingered and casualty lists lengthened, Moody felt it his divine mandate to personally shepherd these broken boys who had been so cheery when they left Camp Douglas, and to tell them, “. . . at every opportunity the power of Christ to save!” Every individual to Moody was sacred and worthy of his effort. Though shy and backwards when it came to preaching to those his own age and older, D. L. Moody maintained a vigorous preaching schedule among the Union boys, eventually overcoming his fears, which after the War thrust him into the world’s limelight as an itinerant evangelist.
Asked to attend an Illinois, Zouaves regiment bivouacked in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, near Lincoln’s birthplace, Moody’s preaching received the local media’s positive review, “The active missionary of the YMCA of Chicago. . . has labored incessantly both day and night in distributing books, papers, tracts, and hymnbooks . . . his advice and example convinces and converts.” It was at this time that Moody’s Chicago friends convinced him to remain an unordained army chaplain, using his free-lancing to provide ministry to many more soldiers.
The United States Christian Commission was formed out of the YMCA with a Navy and Army branch purposed to provide the voluntary services of relief, welfare, and religion among the Federal armies. Moody was part of the North-Western branch. The chaplains’ department commissioned ministers, not holding chaplain posts in the army, to visit the front, particularly the field hospitals, and provide the Commission’s services. These ministers received expenses for their time but no pay, spending from four to six weeks in the Commission’s ministration.
Moody’s first field assignment was attending to the wounded after the February, 1862, battle of Fort Donelson, West of Nashville, Tennessee. “I tell you, you do not know how roughly the poor fellows are treated. I was on the battlefield before they had buried the dead, it was awful to see the dead lying around without anyone to bury them.” The next month he found himself at the battle of Shiloh or Pittsburg Landing, with the army of U. S. Grant. Among the repulsive wounds bearing evidence of the foul stench of gangrene from the innumerable amputations and the unfortunate deaths that medical science and hygiene further advanced would have avoided, chaplain Moody conveyed his urgent message that could immediately make an eternal difference in a man’s pending doom, by simply asking, “Are you a Christian?”
Coming down the Tennessee River with four hundred and fifty wounded men, most mortally, Moody and his friends, “. . . would not let a man die on the boat without telling him of Christ and heaven. . . we would tell them of Christ as we gave them a cup of cold water.” Coming near a boy dying from shock and loss of blood, Moody, gave him brandy and water in hopes he would revive long enough to speak. A buddy close by appraised the evangelist they were from the same town and the dying youth was the only son of a widow. Knowing this mother would be anxious to receive a word from her dying son, Moody asked the buddy if she was a Christian, to which he said, she was. Finally coming around, Moody asked the boy if he knew where he was. “I am on my way home to mother,” he feebly said. Informed the youth would die before reaching his mother, Moody sought the soldier’s last words for her. “Tell my mother . . . that I died . . . trusting in Christ.”
Nine times the tireless messenger of hope went to the front, finding himself under fire in January, 1863, at Murfreesburo (Stones River) with Rosecrans in the Federal push to Nashville. Sparse were those of the Civil War age that lacked a fundamental Christian foundation, but who, hardened by battle and the temptations of camp life, required spiritual attention. Watching as the dying found peace through his pastoral care, when drilling into their consciousness that a man could encounter instantaneous and sure salvation, Moody took great solace applying liberally the gospel’s hope.
During one such encounter with a Murfreesboro casualty who sought his spiritual comfort asking for help to die, Moody heard his confession, “I have been fighting Christ all my life. My mother was a praying woman, but I disregarded her prayers.” Recounting biblical promise after promise there seemed to be no change in the noticeably discouraged soldier’s countenance, but Moody persevered. Reading from the passage of Nicodemus’ encounter with Christ “. . . as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” the intense seeker rose on one elbow, “Read it again,” he pleaded. The next morning when Moody returned he found an empty cot. The orderly present told him the deceased convert had murmured the enlightened passage many times over, dying restfully.
The 1861 novice by 1864, had become a skilled craftsman when applying his providential trade. His labor was sincerely sought by other Christian Officers. Major General Oliver Otis Howard (known as the Christian Soldier), who was present at Gettysburg leading the XI Corps of the Army of the Potomac, was then Commander of the Fourth Corps attached to Sherman’s Army in bivouac near Cleveland, Tennessee, preparing for what would become the infamous ‘March to the Sea’. The one-armed General significantly complemented Moody when he said his men, “. . . were about to set out on what we all felt promised to be a hard and bloody campaign, and I think we were especially desirous of strong preaching.” Crowds turned out to hear Moody. “. . . He showed how a soldier could give his heart to God. His preaching was direct and effective, and multitudes responded with a promise to follow Christ.”
Moody did not attend the army through Georgia, nor witness the notable holding of Fort Altoona, which would inspire the most famous of the Moody and Sankey hymnal-book songs, “Hold the Fort for I am Coming.” (Philip Paul Bliss, an accomplished songwriter, who might have become Moody’s singer had Ira David Sankey, not come the next year, 1870, into Moody’s life, composed the words and music to the hymn, “Hold the Fort for I am Coming,” after hearing the story of the defense of Fort Altoona during the Atlanta Campaign, where Sherman signaled his famous line, “Hold the fort for I am coming.”) D. L. Moody’s work, however, among the armies of the North won for him an everlasting place of affection in the hearts of the boys who became men in battle and death. One 96th Illinois combatant summed it up for all those forever changed by chaplain Moody’s tender care when he said, “I have always looked on Mr. Moody as my spiritual father.”
Dwight Lyman Moody, (named Lyman on his mother’s side who was cousin to Lyman Beecher, father to Harriet ‘Beecher’ Stowe, author of ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’), is known best as the first of the modern-era world evangelists and founder of the eminent Chicago-based ‘Moody Bible Institute’. His prowess, however, for successful mass conversion preaching was matured not in comfortable churches or hallowed halls nor on civilian campuses, but on the crimson fields and in the billeted bivouacs of the American Civil War.
Dennis L. Kutzner, Founder & President
GETTYSBURG CAMPFIRES, INC.
* Moody, by John Pollock, First Edition, Moody: A Biographical Portrait of the Pacesetter of Modern Mass Evangelism, 1963, by Baker Book House, pp.. 49-56, 78.
* The Life of Dwight L. Moody, by his son, William R. Moody, Sword of the Lord Publishing, pp.. 73-96.
* Gettysburg and the Christian Commission, by Andrew Cross, Edinborough Press, 1997.
* D. L. Moody, The Greatest Evangelist of the Nineteenth Century, by Faith Coxe Bailey, Moody Bible Institute Press, 1959, 1987.
July 1,2, and 3, 1863, witnessed the beginning and the end of one of, if not the most, important battles of the Civil War—Gettysburg. On July 4, the day after the battle, a hard rain washed the blood from the field, and unfortunately, added to the death toll. Wounded men, both Blue and Gray, who could not roll from their back to their side or from their front to their back because of their ghastly wounds, drowned! Some of the wounded had been taken to a low area near Rock Creek, and when the waters rose, could not be removed quick enough and were caught in the swiftly moving stream which overran its bank, carrying men who otherwise may have survived, to their untimely death.
The aftermath of those three colossal days left a horrible site, indeed. There were some 10,000 killed in action (KIA). There were few Federal dead unburied with almost none of the Confederate dead buried. And those who were had been so hastily interred that the rains of all day July 4 and 5, uncovered the remains, revealing a hideous spectacle. Some four months later, during the November 19th dedication of the National Cemetery, there would still be Confederate dead unburied on the battlefield.
Too many of the casualties died several hours or days after the fighting ceased, often alone, crying for water or their mothers. This terrible result of war was repeated on all the over 10,000 battlefields of the Civil War. Read and listen as this lyric depicts the unfortunate and lonely abandoned of the battlefield. . .
The Unfortunate of War
by Dennis L. Kutzner
They laid upon the field at night,
moaning and groaning until the light.
Then seething under a scorching sun,
they all died off, one by one.
No one cared for these dying men,
who cried for help, again and again.
To themselves they were left to die alone,
while memories faded to far away homes.
O for a taste of cool, cool water,
a chance again to see a daughter.
A father, a son, mother, or wife,
soon would all end with the passing of life.
Comrades gone forward to attack the lines,
held tenaciously time after time.
Still they would die alone on the field,
as quietly for them the death bell pealed.
Nay, do not forget such sacrifice borne,
by citizen-soldiers in a nation torn,
by hatred and strife and Civil War,
whose anguish brought peace and union once more.
The town named for J. Gettys (in Gettysburg it is pronounced Get' us), had a mere 2400 inhabitants at the time of the battle; but, there were over 26,000 wounded and dying left to be nursed, fed, and buried! One statistic that is often overlooked by visitors is the incredible waste left by the two armies! There were over 72,000 horses and mules present at Gettysburg, and over 5,000 were dead and rotting, along with human remains! Farmers pulled as many animal carcasses together as they could and burned them as quickly as possible. The stench, however, remained for days.
There was another danger for wounded on the battlefield who were unable to remove themselves—roaming and ravaging swine! Local Gettysburg resident, John Wert would recall, ". . . swine were found reveling in the remains of a corpse in a manner horrible to contemplate." One immovable soldier who spent a night in the wheat field near the John Rose farm, fought off an aggressive horde of hogs with his saber to keep them from tearing his flesh. Fortunately for him the ambulance corps extricated him from his frightening experience.
Christians take comfort in their places of worship and though the church preaches a message of healing for sick souls, the sight of one’s church filled with horribly wounded and dying men sprawled on pews and floor near and around the altar would not be a normal scene. But such scenes were repeated in every church within a 25 square mile radius of the battlefield and town, as well as in barns and homes. One church’s wood floor was so badly blood-stained it had to be replaced. To name a few Christian edifices thus filled with Gettysburg casualties: Lutheran Theological Seminary, Christ Lutheran Church, United Presbyterian and Associated Reform Church, Methodist Episcopal Church, St. Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church.
There were a plethora of heroic acts over the 72 hour battle and there were similar acts of Christian kindness in caring for the wounded as well as numerous displays of mercy for the dying. The Sisters of Charity from Emmitsburg ceaselessly labored among the wounded within hours of the battle's end. Liberty Hollinger, a 16 year old living on York Street (US 30 East of the Diamond), remembered the merciful nuns, "Many instances of their kindness and usefulness as I watched them sit by the hospital cots, moistening the parched lip, fanning the heated brow, writing a letter to the loved home-folk or reading and praying with the wounded and dying. No wonder the men learned to admire and love them."
In those first few days after the battle there were no large kitchens to provide and prepare food to feed the thousands of utterly depraved and ravished men. Andrew Cross, of the United States Christian Commission, arrived Sunday the 5th of July with only two boxes of hardtack when he stopped at Cemetery Ridge. What he really needed was a multiplication of loaves and fishes. "Think of two boxes of soda crackers in a hospital of over 3,000 wounded men who had not anything to eat for three days . . . It was all we had. The scarcity of everything was exceedingly great, no army provisions of any kind having yet come, and the men having been without food in many cases for three days."
Captain James J. Griffiths of the 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry was mortally wounded two days after the battle, while on reconnaissance. Griffiths was aide-de-camp to General Oliver Otis Howard, commander of the X I Corps who published the following in his report made shortly after the battle, " . . . I have to report the death of Capt. J. J. Griffiths. He was wounded on the 5th of July, . . . and died on the 10th of the same month." Griffiths was one of the fortunate who was assigned his own personal physician, Dr. Robert Hubbard. Griffiths was taken to a private residence in Gettysburg where his friend and commander, Howard, visited him one last time. One eyewitness commented on this scene: "As the Army of the Potomac was preparing to move in pursuit of Lee, General Howard rode to the door. Dismounting, an orderly took his horse, whilst the General passed in to the side of the dying man (Griffiths). The two had loved each other as brothers. Howard clasped the Captain in his arms, kissed him and burst into tears. Recovering his self-possession, the Christian General took from his pocket a testament and read to the dying Captain a portion of the fourteenth chapter of St. John’s gospel . . . The General then knelt down and offered up a fervent impressive prayer. Arising from his knees, he again kissed the dying man, saying, 'We shall meet in heaven.'" Griffiths died July 10th.
Dr. Hubbard departed from Gettysburg, July 14 with a train of 500 wounded, which included Captain Frederick W. Stowe, Harriet Beecher Stowe's son, who had been wounded by a piece of shell on July 3rd, near General O. O. Howard's headquarters on Cemetery Hill. Stowe's mother received a letter from her son's regimental chaplain, dated July 11: "Among the thousands of wounded and dying men on this war-scarred field, I have just met with your son, Captain Stowe. If you have not already heard from him, it may cheer your heart to know that he is in the hands of good, kind friends. He was struck by a fragment of a shell, which entered his right ear. He is quiet and cheerful, longs to see some member of his family, and is, above all, anxious that they should hear from him as soon as possible. I assured him I would write at once, and though I am wearied by a week's labor here among scenes of terrible suffering, I know that, to a mother's anxious heart, even a hasty scrawl about her boy will be more than welcome. May God bless and sustain you in this troubled time."
Capt. Stowe would be transferred to a military hospital in New York, where his parents would visit. In the Fall of 1863 he would be discharged honorably due to his being unfit for further action. The shell fragment had been successfully removed, but still he suffered blinding headaches. Mrs. Stowe noticed that his conduct, at times, was inexplicably erratic. After some improvement he would go to Boston to study medicine under Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, but to everyone's dismay he was drinking excessively and the word got out.
Frederick was mortified. For years he lived in fear that he would be called a coward, but his deeds of valor in the war proved him wrong, and now, he was utterly despondent realizing the son of Harriet Beecher Stowe was a confirmed drunkard! Little was known during the 19th century of how to help cure alcoholism. Eventually he ended up in Florida still fighting his drinking problem. His parents encouraged him to take some time on the sea, hoping the sea air would help him. He ventured to San Francisco to take passage across the Pacific, but disappeared without a trace. He was never found. Whatever happened to Frederick Stowe, no clues were ever found! Harriet's gray hair turned white over night. Her famous brother, Henry Ward Beecher believed this event, more than anything else, turned his sister in the direction of old age.
The United States is in, what church historians have labeled, the 'post-modern Christian era.' Christianity is on the decline and it is no longer "in" to be Christian. Some have become despondent over this announcement and cry that the church has lost its place in society, unlike the church of the 18th and 19th centuries. Interesting? When Christianity had a strong place in our society, we had a Civil War! When our nation was considered Christian, denominations split, North and South, over the ungodly system of human slavery! To even think America, which had been founded on religious freedom, would permit the 'peculiar institution' of slavery to be kept in tact at the signing of the Constitution is unfathomable for a Christian Nation!
Let us learn from our past, for this is the purpose of history. Like Christians from the Civil War era, let us take our rightful place and work to preserve all our freedoms, among which, is the freedom of, " . . . the free exercise . . . ," of religion! People are as hungry for God today, though they do not know God can only satisfy such appetite, as they were one hundred forty years ago! The church must adapt to the present culture and present, not a watered-down gospel, but a vibrant, relative, and pure message of redemption. As God intervened in America's bloody past to bring a new birth of freedom, let us pray He breaks upon America once more with a renewed commitment to moral and holy living that longs for and seeks out His presence!
Dennis L. Kutzner, Founder & President
GETTYSBURG CAMPFIRES, INC.
* "A Strange and Blighted Land, Gettysburg: The Aftermath of a Battle," by Gregory A. Coco, Thomas Publications, Gettysburg, PA, 1995.
* "Killed in Action," also by Gregory A. Coco, Thomas Publications, Gettysburg, PA, 1992.
* "Debris of Battle, The Wounded of Gettysburg," by Gerard A. Patterson, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 1997.
* "Harriet Beecher Stowe," by Noel B. Gerson, Praeger Publishers, Inc., New York, NY, 1976.
* "Chapel Communique," by Rev. Steven F. Ardhuerumly, Electronic Newsletter of Calvary Chapel of Churubusco, Inc. June, 2001.
* "Civil War Lyric," by Dennis L. Kutzner, published by the author, 1999.
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