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The Baptist Trumpet--1930

This is an incident that took place in the Federal picket line while armies were encamped on either side of the Rapidan in the winter of 1863 and 1864. A certain picket was stationed at the edge of a field along the river from which a draw filled with weeds and brush extended up to where the picket was stationed. About midnight, a premonition of great danger came upon him, and he began to repeat the hymn, "Jesus Lover of My Soul," but before he knew it he was singing with full voice; such was the deep and strong premonition that had come upon him. When he had finished the hymn, to his great surprise and delight the fear that had so oppressed him had gone. The mystery of that night, the almost overwhelming fears, its sudden removal and a sense of safety and peace that followed the singing, remained unsolved until several years after the war.

It came about in this way: I, with other friends on a Mississippi boat, on a bright moonlight night, gathered on the hurricane deck. It was just such a night as it was on the picket post in the long ago, and he was moved to sing the hymn that on that night had entered so strangely into his life. As he began to sing others joined him. And when he had finished, one of them asked him: "Did you serve in the army of the Potomac?'' He answered he did. "Were you on picket along the Rapidan, in the winter of 1863 and 1864? And did you sing the hymn you sang tonight?" For answer they clasped each other's hands and, being deeply moved, embraced like long-parted friends.

The one who asked about the other's army life was a Confederate, and related his part of the mystery: "I was stationed on the river opposite your post and made up my mind to kill the one on post that night. About 12:00 o'clock, I crossed the river under the cover of some over-hanging trees and entered the draw, the other end of which ended at your post. I crept within thirty feet of you, and while I was hid by the thick brush, you stood in the bright moonlight. Raising my rifle I took deliberate aim at your breast, upon which the moon shone full and clear. But something seemed to blur the slights. I 'recovered arms' and passed my hand over them to brush away anything that might be on them, raised my rifle again when you sang

'Cover my defenseless head
With the shadow of thy wing.'

"Again the sights were blurred, and an over-whelming power restrained me and a deep conviction entered my heart that never left me till I found peace in believing on the one whose protection you invoked in your song that night."

This is a story of a song in the night, which will recall the memory of two men both blue and gray. An incident of the times that tried men's souls

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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.