FROM THE FLAG TO THE CROSS: Scenes and Incidents of Christianity in the Civil War
Amos S. Billingsley
The sub-title to this masterpiece is "The conversions, prayers, dying requests, last words, sufferings and deaths of our soldiers, on the battlefield, in hospital, camp and prison and a description of distinguished Christian men and their labors."
Amos Stevens Billingsley was born in 1818, near East Palestine, Columbiana County, OH. He was ordained as a Presbyterian Minister on 10 Jan 1854, and pastored the Slippery Rock Presbyterian Church in Lawrence County until 1857, when he was sent to west as a missionary by the Presbyterian Home Board of Missions. He ministered in the Colorado Gold fields, 1861-62. In 1861 he was elected Chaplain of the Colorado House of Representatives. In 1863, he was assigned as Chaplain of the 101st Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers. He mustered in 9 Jan 1864. He was captured 20 April 1864 at Plymouth, NC, and held captive at Libby Prison in Richmond, VA. He and his wife settled in Statesville, NC, where he pastored at the colored Presbyterian Church. Rev. Billingsley died 12 Oct 1897 in Statesville, NC.
This book is a rivetting account of the work of God in the Civil War. The title of the book, FROM THE FLAG TO THE CROSS, is taken from a letter written from a dying soldier to his brother in which he commends his allegiance to the Flag but urges him to the highest allegiance to the Cross of Jesus Christ.
During the civil war in America, over 600,000 men died serving in a conflict that is hard for us to imagine. A nation birthed in liberty just some 80 years before fought a war on its own soil, between its own people, that nearly destroyed the nation. Only the hand of providence could have re-birthed this young nation out of the ash heap of the civil war, to become one of the greatest nations on the timeline of freedom.
Many theologians, historians and philosophers have debated the providential hand of God and where it acted through this terrible chapter of our history. Few have put down the telescope, in order to pick up the magnifying glass and look into the lives of the men who fought and see not whose side God was on, but where He was.
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; for you are with me; Your rod and your staff, They comfort me."
Even the most cursory reading of civil war history makes apparent the "valley of death" that the soldiers walked through in the civil war. Scenes from Dante's Inferno pale in comparison to the reality of civil war battlefields and hospitals. Brave men on both sides of this struggle walked through the valley of death and stared into the belly of hell. But there is a story woven throughout the civil war that has remained relatively unknown. That is the story of a living God walking among the men, a Savior granting men true and eternal life in the midst of this "shadow of death." And a story of heroic men and women that went to the battlefields, not to fight for the blue or the grey but to fight for the souls of men and for the sake of the gospel. Their instruments of battle were not rifles or bayonets; their instruments of battle were Bibles, bandages and the love of Christ. These were the military chaplains and the men and women of the United States Christian Commission.
One such man was Amos Stevens Billingsley, Chaplain of the 101st Pennsylvania, who in addition to being a lifelong servant of His Master, was a prolific writer. His story from the hospitals and battlefields represents thousands of others, who like Billingsley, went to war under the banner of the Cross.
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