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In Their Own Words

April 09, 1865

Diary Entry on Attending Church with Civil War Soldiers

Eliza Frances Andrews wrote in her diary of attending a church service where she was much moved by the condition, and the faith, of soldiers in attendance.

” I went to worship with a little band of Episcopalians, mostly refugees, who meet every Sunday in a schoolhouse. It is a rough place, with very uncomfortable benches, but beautifully situated in a grove just at the entrance to Lovers’ Lane. The services were conducted by old Mr. George, who used to come out to the Tallassee plantation, as far back as I can remember, and hold mission services for father’s and Mr. Nightingale’s negroes, sometimes in Uncle Jacob’s cabin, sometimes in the little log chapel on Mr. Nightingale’s Silver Lake place. He teaches in the little schoolhouse all the week to support his family - a full baker’s dozen - and holds church services on Sundays for the refugees and soldiers of the faith that have stranded here. He has spent his life in mission work, laying the foundation of churches for other men to build on. There is something very touching in the unrewarded labor of this good man, grown gray in the service of his God. The churches he builds up, as soon as they begin to prosper, ask the bishop for another pastor. He wore no surplice, and his threadbare silk gown was, I verily believe, the same that he used to wear in the old plantation chapel. It was pathetic to see him - his congregation still more so. It consisted mainly of poor wounded soldiers from the hospitals, especially in the afternoon, when there were no services in the other churches. They came, some limping on crutches, some with scarred and mangled faces, some with empty sleeves, nearly all with poor, emaciated bodies, telling their mute tale of sickness and suffering, weariness and heartache. I saw one poor lame fellow leading a blind one, who held on to his crutch. Another had a blind comrade hanging upon one arm while an empty sleeve dangled where the other ought to be. I have seen men since I came here with both eyes shot out, men with both arms off, and one poor fellow with both arms and a leg gone. What can our country ever do to repay such sacrifice? And yet, it is astonishing to see how cheerful these brave fellows are, especially Cousin Bolling’s patients, who laughingly dub themselves “The Blind Brigade.” …”

Source: Eliza Frances Andrews, The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, 1864-1865 (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1908), pp. 137-138.