Sunday, November 25, 2012
The revival of 63' - 64' was not limited to enlisted men. It is well known that Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson were both pious, devout men, but during this time many Confederate officers were baptized, including A.P. Hill on the battlefield of Second Manassas, and Dorsey Pender.
By the end of the war, it is estimated that 100,000 Confederate soldiers in the Army of Northern Virginia alone surrendered to the Lord.
And the revival was by no means limited to the army in the East. There were signs of this revival in the Army of Tennessee even before Longstreet’s Corps joined it for the Chattanooga campaign, but the Spirit of revival surely came with Longstreet’s men. Estimates are that another 50,000 men from the Western armies were baptized. General Braxton Bragg had been baptized in mid-1863.
After the Battle of Missionary Ridge, the Army of Tennessee moved to Dalton Georgia for winter quarters. The soldiers built many churches while there. During that time, General Leonidas Polk baptized Generals J. E. Johnston, William J. Hardee, and John Bell Hood. Hood, unable to kneel due to his amputated leg, supported himself on a crutch and bowed his head.
So what was the effect of the great revival? Literally thousands of new churches were founded throughout the South after the war, creating the “Bible Belt”. By 1870, the number of churches and church membership had more than doubled from their number in 1860. I have read that there are more existing churches in the South that were founded from 1860 to 1870, than there are that were not founded during that period.
The newly found faith of the Southern people helped them through the horrible post-war period which included much of the population having died in the war, many thousands of men who were invalid or amputees due to wounds, not to mention the complete lawlessness of Radical Reconstruction.
For those of you that believe, my answer to his question was: surely God’s purpose for the Great Revival was to prepare the Southern people for what was to come to them for the next 17 years. Actually the next one hundred years.