Tag Archives: Revolutionary War

Valley Forge was a trial of Faith

Valley Forge was a trial of Faith

Washington-Praying-at-Valley-ForgeAmerican Minute with Bill Federer

After the American victory at Saratoga, British General Howe struck back by driving the patriots out of Philadelphia.

On DECEMBER 19, 1777, over 11,000 American soldiers set up camp at Valley Forge, just 25 miles outside Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, another 11,000 Americans were dying on British starving ships.

Yale President Ezra Stiles recounted May 8, 1783:

“‘O that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears,’ that I might weep the thousands of our brethren that have perished in prison ships–

in one of which, the Jersey, then lying at New York, perished above eleven thousand the last three years–while others have been barbarously exiled to the East Indies for life.”

Soldiers at Valley Forge were from every State in the new union, some as young as 12 and others as old as 60.

Though most were of European descent, some were African American and American Indian.

Among them were Marquis de Lafayette and the future Chief Justice John Marshall.

Lacking food and supplies, soldiers died at the rate of twelve per day.

Over 2,500 froze to death in bitter cold, or perished from hunger, typhoid, jaundice, dysentery, and pneumonia.

In addition, hundreds of horses perished in the freezing weather.

A Committee from Congress reported on the soldiers:

“Feet and legs froze till they became black, and it was often necessary to amputate them.”

Of the wives and children who followed the army, mending clothes, doing laundry and scavenging for food, an estimated 500 died.

Two days before Christmas, George Washington wrote:

“We have this day no less than 2,873 men in camp unfit for duty because they are barefooted and otherwise naked.”

Washington wrote “…that unless some great and capital change suddenly takes place… this Army must inevitably… starve, dissolve, or disperse, in order to obtain subsistence in the best manner they can.”

Hessian Major Carl Leopold Baurmeister noted the only thing that kept the American army from disintegrating was their “spirit of liberty.”

A farmer reportedly observed General Washington kneeling in prayer in the snow.

On December 24, 1983, President Ronald Reagan stated in a Radio Address:

“The image of George Washington kneeling in prayer in the snow is one of the most famous in American history.”

On April 21, 1778, Washington wrote to Lt. Col. John Banister:

“No history…can furnish an instance of an army’s suffering such uncommon hardships as ours has done, and bearing them with the same patience and fortitude –

To see men without clothes to cover their nakedness, without blankets to lay on, without shoes, by which their marches might be traced by the blood from their feet, and almost as often without provisions…

marching through frost and snow, and at Christmas taking up their winter quarters within a day’s march of the enemy, without a house or hut to cover them…

and submitting to it without a murmur, is a mark of patience and obedience which in my opinion can scarce be paralleled.”

Despite these conditions, soldiers prepared to fight.

A Christmas carol that lifted spirits at this time was “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,” first published in 1760 on a broadsheet in London as a “New Christmas carol.” It was called “the most common and generally popular of all carol tunes”:

“God rest ye merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay.
For Jesus Christ our Savior,
Was born on Christmas Day;
To save us all from Satan’s power,
When we were gone astray. (Chorus)

O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.”

In February, 1778, there arrived in the camp a Prussian drill master, Baron Friedrich von Steuben, who had been a member of the elite General Staff of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia.

Baron von Steuben, who was sent with the recommendation of Ben Franklin, drilled the soldiers daily, transforming the American volunteers into an army.

Lutheran Pastor Henry Muhlenberg, whose sons Peter and Frederick served in the First U.S. Congress, wrote in The Notebook of a Colonial Clergyman:

“I heard a fine example today, namely, that His Excellency General Washington rode around among his army yesterday and admonished each and every one to fear God, to put away the wickedness… and to practice the Christian virtues…

God has… marvelously, preserved him from harm in the midst of countless perils, ambuscades, fatigues.”

Washington successfully kept the army intact through the devastating winter, and gave the order at Valley Forge, April 12, 1778:

“The Honorable Congress having thought proper to recommend to the United States of America to set apart Wednesday, the 22nd inst., to be observed as a day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer,

that at one time, and with one voice, the righteous dispensations of Providence may be acknowledged, and His goodness and mercy towards our arms supplicated and implored:

The General directs that the day shall be most religiously observed in the Army; that no work shall be done thereon, and that the several chaplains do prepare discourses.”

On May 2, 1778, Washington ordered:

“The Commander-in-Chief directs that Divine service be performed every Sunday…To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest Glory to laud the more distinguished Character of Christian.”

Bill FedererThe Moral Liberal Contributing Editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s bookshere.

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Gano, John

He pastored all the Baptists in NYC and Philadelphia

On June 19, 1762, the First Baptist Church of New York City was constituted by Benjamin Miller and John Gano. Gano immediately became the pastor and also accepted the pastoral care of the Baptist church in Philadelphia. The meetinghouse in N.Y. was enlarged in 1763. During the Revolutionary War, the church was dispersed and its members scattered and the building used as a stables for the British as they occupied the city for seven years. Gano served that time with honor as a chaplain. On his return he found emptiness, desolation, and ashes. He collected 37 out of nearly 200 of his former flock. Many had died and others were scattered throughout every part of the new nation. After the building was cleaned, at the first service he preached from Haggai 2:3-“Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? And how do you see it now?” The days of spiritual prosperity soon returned and lasted until he baptized his last convert on April 5, 1788. John was born July 22, 1727, the fifth son of Daniel Gano and Sarah Britton. He was a direct descendent of the French Huguenots of France. His great-grandfather Francis fled from the persecution that resulted from the bloody edict revoking the Edict of Nantes. Francis Gano settled in New Rochelle, N.Y. His son Stephen raised six sons one of whom was John’s father, Daniel. John’s father was a godly Presbyterian, his mother a Baptist, hence the children were raised in Baptist convictions. John began his ministry by preaching through-out the South, and accepted a call to take charge of an infant church at the “Jersey Settlement” in N.C.  The church grew to be quite large but upon an outbreak of war with the Cherokees he moved to New Jersey.  He ended his ministry as a missionary to Kentucky.

Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 300-01.

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America’s victory over England secured England’s liberty too
1748 – Dr. John Rippon of England,in a  letter addressed to Dr. James Manning, president of Brown University, said: “I believe all of our Baptist ministers in town, except two, and most of our brethren in the country were on the side of the Americans in the late dispute….We wept when the thirsty plains drank the blood of our departed heroes, and the shout of a king was among us when your well bought battles were crowned with victory; and to this hour we believe that the independence of America will, for a while, secure the liberty of this country, but if that continent had been reduced, Britain would not have long been free.” Dr. Rippon was one of the most influential Baptist ministers in England during the 19th century. At the age of 17, Rippon attended Bristol Baptist College in Bristol, England. After the death of John Gill, he assumed Gill’s pastorate, the Baptist meeting-house in Carter Lane, Tooley Street, which moved in 1833 to the New Park Street Chapel in London, from 1773 at the age of 20 until his death, a period of 63 years. Rippon’s church was later pastored byCharles Haddon Spurgeon before moving to the Metropolitan Tabernacle at Elephant and Castle inSouthwark.
Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: John T. Christian, A History of The Baptists (1922; reprinted., Nashville:  Broadman Press, 1926), 2:228
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328 – Nov. 24 – This Day in Baptist History Past


He baptized over 3,000 converts


1802 – D.R. Murphy was born in Jefferson County, Tennessee. His father William, had served in the Revolutionary War and was a nephew of the famous “Murphy Boys” who were Baptist ministers during the struggles of the early Virginia Baptists. D.R. was a wicked young man but had a glorious salvation experience, and was          immersed and united with the Mill Spring Baptist Church on Sept. 3, 1832. He began preaching immediately and was ordained in 1834, and then spent the next five years preaching in Tenn. He married Lucy Carter in 1822 and they had ten children, then hearing of the great spiritual needs of the west, he moved his growing family to Missouri in 1839, and began his itinerant ministry. He established a church in Enon, Missouri in April of 1840. In August in the same county he had enough converts to found the Mt. Zion Baptist Church. In July of 1841, he organized the Coon Creek Baptist Church in St. Clair County. In thirty-five years he started thirty churches. When you consider the scattered population his feats were amazing. Families lived in small log cabins with dirt floors, a side door with wooden chimneys, often ten miles apart. Amazingly he baptized over three-thousand believers. In the last seven years of his life Mrs. Murphy became very ill and after her death he remarried a widow, Mrs. L.A. Cedar who labored with him until his death on Aug. 28, 1875 at 73. Her testimony follows. “My husbands death was a most triumphant one. He suffered intensely for four months, and was patient and meek…The last song we sung was, ‘I am going home to die no more…” [R.S. Duncan, A History of the Baptists in Missouri (Saint Louis: Scammell and Company, Publishers, 1882), p. 604. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 643-44.]
Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon


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283 – Oct. 10 – This Day in Baptist History Past


He pastored five churches at one time


1846 – Rev. William Duncan, whose ministry was during the period immediately following the Revolutionary War, ended his earthly sojourn. The seventy- year-old was the elder statesman of the Mt. Pleasant Associational Meetings. This one was being held in Ebenezer Baptist Church of Randolph County, Missouri.  Duncan became ill as he had nearly concluded the final sermon at the final service. When he seemed to have regained his strength he was allowed to ride his horse the twenty miles to his home, where on the following Saturday he died of the congestive fever. He had been born in Amherst County, Virginia, on Feb. 22, 1776. His parents were Rev. John and Sarah Duncan, his father being the pastor of the local Baptist church. William was saved and baptized into his father’s church at twenty years of age. Quite young he married Sally Henley and they were blessed with two sons and six daughters. His theological training was in his fathers “academy”, and soon he was preaching to struggling Baptist churches. Soon he was pastor of four churches, some in other counties, seeing many converts for his tireless efforts. For thirty years Rev. Duncan maintained this grueling schedule of his four-church charge and then followed his children west to Missouri, finally settling in Howard Co., where, at the age of sixty-two he assumed the care of five churches. In Huntsville, Missouri where he had been pastor for the last eight years of his life, the Circuit court was in session at the time, upon hearing the news of his demise, the judge immediately adjourned the court. [R.S. Duncan,  A History of the Baptists in Missouri (Saint Louis: Scammell & Company, Publishers, 1882), p. 187. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. 555-56.]  Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon


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254 – Sept. 11 – This Day in Baptist History Past


Grace is not Hereditary, Depravity is”


1783 – Rev. Isaac Case began his ministry in Readfield, Maine, and until his death at age 91 on Nov. 3, 1852 his life was spent in the preaching of the gospel. The Revolutionary War being over, the message of Christ expanded along with towns and settlements, so his work was the planting of many Baptist churches in those areas. He established the First Baptist Church of Thomaston and Readfield. They only counted converts that were actually baptized in those days, and he baptized scores wherever he went. In 1904 Dr. A.R. Crane presented a paper at the Maine Baptist Missionary Convention entitled The Baptist Ministers in Maine (from 1804-1904) and listed Isaac Case as one of the most important. He said that he heard him preach in his old age, and considered him to have as much power with God as any man he had ever heard, but couldn’t understand why his grown son never attended church services. Asking Case’s son that question one day, the son said, “Grace is not hereditary, depravity is”. (Rom. 5:12)
[Henry S. Burrage, History of  the Baptists in Maine (Portland, Maine: Marks Printing House, Printers, 1904,), p. 68. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 497-99.]
Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon


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252 – Sept. 09 – This Day in Baptist History Past


The Pastor of Firsts


1764 – Rev. Samuel Stillman became the sixth pastor of the First Baptist Church of Boston, Mass., which was the fourth oldest church in America. The church had endured persecution, decline and revivals. At age 27, Stillman found around sixty discouraged members. Those of prominence often attended services, including President John Adams. Samuel, a small man weighing less than 100 pounds at the time of his death in 1807 did gigantic exploits for God, many of them firsts. He had to flee during the Revolutionary War but returned to re-gather his flock. He helped establish America’s first Baptist College. He was a leader in the organization of the Warren Baptist Association to assist in the fight against the entanglement of the church and state. In 1802, ten years before the Judson’s and Rice went to Burma he led in starting the Mass. Baptist Missions Society. And First church was the first to install a stove for heat against the bitter New England winters. Alas, what worldliness, (Ha). [Nathan E. Wood, The History of the First Baptist Church of Boston (Philadelphia American Baptist Pub. Society, 1899), p. 242. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 494-95.] .]  Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon


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226 – Aug. 14 – This Day in Baptist History Past


Gospel preached in the Revolutionary War



1775 – “that in some Cases it was lawful to go to War, and also for us to make a Military resistance against Great Britain, in regard of their unjust Invasion, and tyrannical Oppression of, and repeated Hostilities against America,” we therefore delegate and appoint our well-beloved Brethren in the Ministry, Elijah Craig, Lewis Craig, Jeremiah Walker and John Williams to present this address and to petition you that they may have free Liberty to preach to the Troops at convenient Times without molestation or abuse; and as we are conscious of their strong attachment to American Liberty, as well as their soundness in the principles of the Christian Religion, and great usefulness in the Work of the Ministry, we are willing that they may come under your Examination in any Matters you may think requisite.   We conclude with our earnest prayers to Almighty God for His Divine Blessing on your patriotic and laudable Resolves, for the good of Mankind and American Freedom, and for the success of our Armies in Defense of our Lives, Liberties and Properties. Amen.”  Sign’d by order and in behalf of the (Baptist) Association (of Virginia) the 14th August, 1775. Sam’l Harriss, Moderator, John Waller, Clerk. [Robert B. Semple, History of the Baptists in Virginia, rev. ed. ( Lafayette, Tenn.: Church History Research and Archives, 1976), pp. 493-94]  Prepared by Dr. Greg Dixon


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149 — May 28 – This Day in Baptist History Past


A Ferocious Don Manuel Gayoso de Lemos, a Fearless Woman, and a Fainting Wife


Baptists from the Pee Dee region of northeastern South Carolina arrived at Cole’s Creek near Natchez in the Mississippi territory beginning in 1780, almost forty years before Mississippi became the twentieth state in the United States of America on December 10, 1817.  These Baptists had served the American colonies in their opposition to the British in the Revolutionary War.  Simultaneous with the Baptists’ arrival to Mississippi in 1780, the English were losing their control of the area to the Spanish.


Among the Baptists who left South Carolina were Richard Curtis, Sr., his step-son John Jones and his wife Anna, his sons Benjamin Curtis and family, Richard Curtis, Jr. (born in Virginia on May 28, 1756), and family.


Enforcing Roman Catholicism on the newly acquired area, the Spanish did not recognize non-Catholic forms of religion.  Problems started for the Baptists when Richard Curtis, Jr., a licensed Baptist minister, began to attract attention with his preaching ability.  By 1790, various people in the area had asked Richard Curtis, Jr., to preach for them.  Later, Curtis officiated at the baptisms of a prominent man William Hamberlin and Stephen De Alvo, a Catholic-born Spaniard, who had married an American woman, and Curtis led worship in private homes.  In 1791, the Baptists established a small church at Cole’s Creek approximately eighteen miles north of Natchez near the corner of contemporary Stampley Road and 4 Forks Road.


The Spanish governor, Don Manuel Gayoso de Lemos, wrote a letter to Curtis in 1795 ordering him to stop preaching contrary to the laws of the Spanish province, and went so far as to have Curtis arrested April 6, 1795.  Gayoso threatened Curtis, Hamberlin, and De Alvo with the penalty of working the silver mines of Mexico, especially if Curtis failed to stop preaching contrary to the provincial law.


Richard Curtis Jr., Bill Hamberlin, and Steve De Alvo fled the Natchez Country. Cloe Holt, Volunteered to fearlessly take supplies to the men in concealment. When the territory passed under the control of Georgia and was recognized as United States property, Curtis and his companions returned with joyful hearts. Curtis’s wife, not knowing of his return, fainted when she saw him standing in the pulpit to Preach.


Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I. Thompson/Cummins pp. 218 -219



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130 – May-10 – This Day in Baptist History Past


Why Tarriest Thou?


 At the close of the Triennial convention in May of 1814, Richard Furman on his way home to Charleston, S.C., stopped in the Nation’s Capitol.  He happened to meet an acquaintance, Mr. James Monroe.  Mr. Monroe said, “and you were the young preacher who fled for protection to the American camp, on account of the reward which Lord Cornwallis had offered for your head?”  It seems that young Furman was not only a warm-hearted Baptist preacher, but an ardent advocate of the Revolutionary War.  Everywhere, on stumps, and in barns, as well as in pulpits, he preached resistance to Britain.  Colonel Monroe insisted that reverend Furman preach in the Hall of Congress.  All the elite, including the President and Cabinet Ministers, would be present, for Colonel Monroe had circulated the early efforts and eloquence of the young preacher.  Furman chose for his text, Acts 22:16, “And now, why tarriest thou?  Arise and be baptized.”  He enjoyed great freedom as he spoke, and his voice rang out as in days of old.  His earnestness caught the imagination of his audience and everything built as with a grand crescendo.  Catching the spirit of the hour, he rose to the grand climax of his presentation.  His clear stentorian voice rang out, “And now, why tarriest thou?  Arise!  And be baptized.”  At the word “ARISE,” several of his august audience seemed electrified and rose from their seats, as if alarmed at their past sinful hesitation.  This Mr. Monroe, Colonel Monroe, soon after became President James Monroe of the United States.  Reverend Furman later contributed greatly to the constitutional change, which ended the established church (i.e. state/church) in South Carolina.



Dr. Dale R. Hart, adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III, (David L. Cummins) p.p.  270   –   272



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