Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Trans-Mississippi Revival

Religious revivalism reached a peak in Walker’s Texas Division in the winter of 1863-1864. At the same time, soldiers in the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of Tennessee also attended frequent revivals. A former captain in the 28th Texas Cavalry (dismounted), Martin V. Smith, became one of the most important preachers in the revivals that attracted men of Walker’s Texas Division. The Eastern Baptist Convention of Texas petitioned in support of Smith’s request to resign his commission to become a “missionary” to Colonel Horace Randal’s brigade (the 28th Texas was part of this unit). His resignation request was also accompanied by a petition signed by a number of brigade officers; they contended that his preaching “will satisfy the desire of the religious part of the Command and have a good effect in restraining many from vile practices which soldiers are liable to engage in….” Authorities approved his resignation, and Martin V. Smith joined several other ministers in the evangelizing effort. The revivals reached a peak in late November; by then, Smith had baptized ninety-two men. As the revivals strengthened, card playing and the use of profanity dropped in the division. Interestingly, the division was actively campaigning in Louisiana through much of this time.


  1. Although better known for other things, the Seventh Kansas Vol. Cav., according to a couple of diaries I have read, was in an almost constant state of revival during the period of time, late in the war, when they were posted to Rolla, Pilot Knob and Patterson, Missouri. Preaching and Bible study were regular evening activities.

  2. Very interesting information! This does indeed give a different impression of the Seventh Kansas Cavalry.