(Passages from the book by J. Steven Wilkins)

Fredericksburg: Page 212

During the (Union) assault, Lee turned to Longstreet and said with a mixture of satisfaction and sadness, “It is well that war is so terrible! We should grow too fond of it!”

The battle of Fredericksburg was actually two battles fought three miles apart: one in Jackson’s sector, and the other in Longstreet’s. Both battles proved disastrous for the Federals. Union Capt. Abner Small conceded, “There had been two battles, and we knew that both had been lost.”

Jackson tried to counterattack later in the day, but given the strength of the Union artillery and the disorganization that came with battle, it proved to be impossible. News of the wounding of Maxcy Gregg weighed heavily upon him, however, and around 4:00 a.m. the next morning Jackson visited Gregg at the Thomas Yerby home. Gregg was in great pain but conscious, and when he saw Jackson, he tried to apologize for a previous disagreement.

Jackson took the general’s hand and said, “The doctor tells me that you have not long to live. Let me ask you to dismiss this matter from your mind and turn your thoughts to God and to the world to which you go.”

Gregg’s eyes filled with tears. “I thank you. I thank you very much,” he replied.

Jackson, Hunter McGuire, and James Smith rode silently to their camp. When they arrived, Jackson paused to look up at the sky and exclaimed, “How horrible is war!” McGuire responded, “Horrible, yes, but we have been invaded. What can we do?”

Immediately Jackson responded, “Kill them, sir! Kill every man!”

Christianity: Pages 269-271

Jackson’s unwavering faith in the promises of God, particularly in the verse that dominated so much of his thinking (Romans 8:28), upheld and supported him in the dark times of sorrow. He once wrote to his sister, Laura, “However dark the night, I am cheered with an anticipated glorious morrow … No earthly calamity can shake my hope in the future so long as God is my friend.” The General understood his weakness and thus had great strength.

Interestingly, Jackson’s understanding of Christianity saw the necessity for applying one’s faith far beyond the individual. Christianity was never to be confined to individual morals and theology, but being the truth, faith should permeate the entire society. His was preeminently a public religion. Jackson believed that the nation ought to conform itself as closely as possible to the Bible. The laws of the land ought to reflect submission to “God’s revealed truth.” It is righteousness that exalts a nation (Proverbs 14:34). Thus it was his concern to strictly enforce observance of the Sabbath. Just before the battle of Fredericksburg, he wrote to Alexander R. Boteler in Richmond and mentioned his keen interest in the repeal of laws that required the mail to be transported on Sundays. Jackson believed that this should be done without debate. “I do not see how a nation that thus arrays itself, by such a law, against God’s holy day can expect to escape His wrath. The punishment of national sins must be confined to the world because there are no nationalities beyond the grave.”

It is as essential for nations to acknowledge the rule of God as it is for individuals. No neutrality is possible.

God deals with communities as well as individuals, and all governments must remember this if they would desire prosperity and blessings. “Let our Government acknowledge the God of the Bible as its God and we may soon expect to be a free and happy people.” He was quite concerned over the view that spread in the nineteenth century of the separation of church and state. It was becoming obvious to Jackson that this theory went far beyond the original intentions of the Founding Fathers, being interpreted to mean that the state had no obligation to honor God at all. This was alarming to him.

“It appears to me that extremes are to be avoided: and it also appears to me that the old United States occupied an extreme position in the means it took to prevent the union of Church and State. We call ourselves a Christian people; and it seems to me that our Government may be of the same character, without connecting itself with an established Church. It does appear to me that as our President, our Congress, and our people have thanked God for victories, and prayed to Him for additional ones, and He has answered such prayers, and gives us a Government, it is gross ingratitude not to acknowledge Him in the gift. Let the framework of our Government show that we are not ungrateful to Him.”

(The above is from the June 2009 Newsletter of the General Robert A. Toombs Camp # 932, SCV)

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