General Richard S. Ewell had a reputation for being a heavy drinker, foul mouthed, and blasphemous. During the War to Prevent Southern Independence, he was under the Command of General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, whom he hated and referred to as “That Crazy Presbyterian.”
One night, he went to pay a visit to Jackson in his tent. He looked through the door of the tent and saw General Jackson on his knees, arms uplifted to heaven, deep in prayer. A change came over him. He told someone “I don’t know what Jackson has, but I want it.” As a result of Stonewall Jackson’s example of unshakable faith, General Ewell repented and became a new man in Christ.
This story was not unique- during the war, thousands of Southern men were to be saved and to profess Christianity. I’ve heard of entire Regiments being saved. At Dalton, GA alone it is estimated that as many as 15,000 men were Saved and Baptized between November and March of 1863-64. Included among these were 5 Generals.
After the war, many of these men (including my own Ancestor, as well as my wife’s ancestor) returned home and started Churches in their efforts to rebuild the devastated South. Many of these Churches stand to this very day. I’ve heard it said that the South is known as “The Bible Belt” today as a direct result of the conversions on the battlefield of Confederate soldiers.
The history of the South is the history of America, and it is rich with stories like these.