Her Baptism of Blood

Deus, repulisti nos, et destruxisti nos; iratus es, et misertus es nobis. Commovisti terram, et conturbasti eam; sana contritiones ejus, quia commota est. Ostendisti populo tuo dura; potasti nos vino compunctionis. Dedisti metuentibus te significationem, ut fugiant a facie arcus; ut liberentur dilecti tui, salvum fac dextera tua, et exaudi me.

Psalmus lix. 4-7.

During the progress of this relentless war, our enemies have wrested from us the great river of the west, which once bore upon its waters the commerce of half a continent; and though its possession has proved nearly valueless to them, its loss to us severs the connexion between portions of the Confederacy, and renders active cooperation betwixt them almost impossible. They have placed the heel of oppression upon the queenly city which, within the embraces of this imperial stream, once filled her horn with plenty, and danced gaily to the sound of the viol and harp. They have trodden down and defiled other noble towns and cities, once the abodes of affluence, the seats of learning and science, whose ancient families handed down from father to son a proud, ancestral name. Their mailed ships beleaguer our coast, and seek to seal our ports against the commerce of the world. They have massed their numerous armies and driven them, like a wedge, nearer and nearer to the heart of the land; exulting in the hope of speedily riving it in sunder, as the axeman of the forest rives the gigantic but fallen oak. They have stirred up the resentment of the civilized world against our social organization, and pointed their prejudices, like poisoned spears, against our cause, that our strength may dry up within our bones in this state of dreadful seclusion. In all history there is nothing more grandly sublime than the perfect isolation in which the Southern Confederacy is now battling for those rights which are so dear to the human heart. The nations of the earth have no eye of pity for our distress, no tear of sympathy for our wrongs. They turn away in cold indifference, and leave us to grapple with a superior foe, whose malice feeds upon the memories of past brotherhood, and can be satiated only by drinking the life of a people to whom they were once bound by the most sacred of covenants. Yet all alone, this young nation, strong only in her consciousness of right, girds herself for the mighty struggle. Like the fabled Antoeus, she gathers strength from the very reverses which bring her to the ground, and rises with new energy to the conflict. She drops a tear over the tombs of her martyrs, and then goes patiently again under her baptism of blood. All alone, she lifts an eye of faith to Heaven above, and beneath the shadow of Jehovah’s throne, strikes again for liberty and life. All alone, with God for her avenger, she treads danger beneath her feet, and moves forward to the triumph which an assured faith reveals steadily to her gaze. Like David in the text, she stands upon the trembling earth, and whilst drinking the wine of astonishment mingled in her cup, she recognizes a commission from the God of Heaven which binds her to duty in the face of trial, and receives at His hands a banner which she must display because of the truth. Let us, my hearers, read the inscriptions upon this banner; and then throw its folds anew to the breeze, in testimony of the principles which we are called this day to confess before the nations of the world.

— Benjamin M. Palmer, D. D., A Discourse before the General Assembly of South Carolina, Day of Fasting, Humiliation, and Prayer, 10 December 1863.

Author: Christian Clay Columba Campbell

Christian Clay Columba Campbell is a Roman Catholic of the Anglican Use. As Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL), he organised the process by which the parish accepted the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, petitioning to join the Catholic Church. The Anglican Cathedral is now the Church of the Incarnation in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Personal queries should be directed to me at eccentricbliss dot com.

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