Monday, June 8, 2009

Preaching to the Soldiers on Sunday

A selection from a letter by Robert L. Dabney to his mother about his new job. General Thomas J. Jackson, better known as “Stonewall,” had appointed Dr. Dabney as his adjutant with the promise that he could preach to the troops on Sundays. Colonel Grigsby, of the Stonewall Brigade, a somewhat profane officer, paid a high compliment to Dabney when he said, “Our parson is not afraid of Yankee bullets, and I tell you he preaches like hell.” Dabney’s letter, written May 6, 1862, gave a brief description of his duties in the Confederate army.

The adjutant is pretty much the General’s secretary; and as he must be near the General’s person, he necessarily shares his comforts. I always eat at the same table, and most frequently sleep in the same military pallet. In general, I may say that he treats me with the greatest kindness and consideration; and while he is exact and exacting in an official point of view to all under him, personally he is almost embarrassingly kind. The bargain is that I shall do his army work in the week, and be at liberty to preach to the soldiers on Sundays.

The Life and Letters of Robert Lewis Dabney, by Thomas Cary Johnson, first published in 1903, reprinted by the Banner of Truth Trust, 1977, p. 264.

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