James G. Martin, Adjutant General for the State of North Carolina, was responsible for the organization and training of new Tar Heel regiments at Camp Mangum, near Raleigh. Martin ensured the recruits were housed, clothed, fed, trained, and properly equipped before sending them off to war. But Martin also realized that the soldiers’ spiritual well-being was as important as their physical readiness.
General Martin served for 20 years in the antebellum army and had lost an arm during the Mexican War. He had first-hand knowledge of the horrors the new soldiers would face when they finally faced the enemy. Martin knew that a young soldier needed strong spiritual strength to overcome the fear he would feel when engaged in combat.
In order to bolster the recruits belief that God was with them, Martin issued General Order #6 on May 23, 1862. The order required all regiments at Camp Mangum to assemble for prayer after morning and afternoon drills. As a career military man, Martin was very specific about the formation of the regiment, the stance taken by the men, and the prayers that were delivered.
The companies of a regiment were to form three sides of a rectangle. The Field and Staff assembled on the open side of the formation. On command, the soldiers knelt and bowed their heads. The Chaplain then intoned the Lord’s Prayer. Following the Lord’s Prayer was a longer prayer that beseeched God to protect the soldiers, make them brave and help them “drive the invader from our soil.” At the end of the second prayer, the Chaplain was allowed to say a few words (“a short prayer and not more than two verses of a Psalm or Hymn”). Finally, the assembly ended with the Chaplain reciting, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore. Amen.”
You can see an image of Martin’s General Order #6 HERE.
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