A Place of Peace Becomes a Place of War
by Rev. David T. Myers
In your mind, imagine a white country church nestled by the side of a Virginia county road. Ordinarily, what might be heard from that church would be the singing of the hymns of the faith, testimonies of salvation from the church goers, solid preaching of the Word by the faithful pastor, fellowship suppers on the church lawn, and families coming and going on the Lord’s Day, or in the middle of the week.
What you wouldn’t expect to see or hear would be armies digging trenches for offensive and defensive positions, orders to fix bayonets, the hurrahs of Union men mixed with the Rebel yell, and dreadful sounds of wounds and deaths of men from battle. Yet the latter picture more than the former was the case around Cumberland Presbyterian Church, northeast of Farmville, Virginia on April 7, 1865 during the day and evening. This country church was on the stretch of journey of the retreat of the Army of Northern Virginia, under the command of Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Escaping from Richmond and Petersburg, Lee’s scattered army was seeking to escape the pursuing Union armies of Gen. U.S. Grant. Lee had hopes of joining another Confederate force in North Carolina. But elements of the II corps under General A.A. Humphreys stopped their advance. Entrenching around this Presbyterian church, the southern forces stopped two advances of this Union corps. In what was interestingly a Confederate victory, the Army of Northern Virginia would reach Appomattox several days later and surrender their valiant forces to the North.
Words to Live By: In the midst of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Civil War, or War Between the States, we can acknowledge the sovereign will of God, as its military leaders, both North and South, did back then. We can rejoice that the gospel went forth in power through various spiritual awakenings and revivals among the soldiers, preparing this united nation to reach beyond its borders with the blessed gospel of Jesus Christ. We can remember the courage of military officers and common soldiers for their respective nations. We can look back to this era when a once divided nation became the United States of America . . . again.