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Dale Gallon painting of Rev. Lacy and Jackson

"The General and His Chaplain" By Dale Gallon
Image courtesy of Gallon Historical Art, Gettysburg, PA
www.gallon.com

This painting by Dale Gallon was commissioned by the Chaplains Museum Association to focus on the role of religion in the life of the Civil War soldier. The theme was God, the Chaplain, and the soldier.

Rev. Beverly Tucker Lacy Camp
Sons of Confederate Veterans

Biography of Rev. Beverly Tucker Lacy

The excerpts below are taken from "The Battle Rainbow: Jackson and his Chaplains" by Chaplain Russ Campbell.

 

"Stonewall" Jackson and his Chaplain-At-Large

In a letter addressed to the Southern Presbyterian General Assembly, Jackson wrote:

" Each Christian branch of the church should send into the army some of its most prominent ministers, who are distinguished for their piety, talents, and zeal; and such ministers should labor to produce concert of action among chaplains and Christians in the army. These ministers should give special attention to preaching to regiments which are without chaplains, and induce them to take steps to get chaplains, to let the regiments name the denomination from which they desire chaplains selected; and then to see that suitable chaplains are secured. A bad selection of a chaplain may prove a curse instead of a blessing. If the few prominent ministers thus connected with each army would cordially co-operate, I believe that glorious fruits would be the result. Denominational distinctions should be kept out of view, and not touched upon; and as a general rule, I do not think that a chaplain who would preach denominational sermons, should be in the army. His congregation is his regiment, and it is composed of persons of various denominations. I would like to see no question asked in the army, as to what denomination a chaplain belongs; but let the question be, does he preach the Gospel? The neglect of spiritual interests in the army may be partially seen in the fact that not half of my regiments have chaplains."(28)

Jackson modestly pled unqualified in commanding matters ecclesiastical, so this ground would have to be examined by a clergyman. Former Chief of Staff Robert Dabney recounted the three objectives of Jackson's spiritual campaign: "to supply regiments destitute of chaplains with a partial substitute in the shape of the itinerant labors of efficient ministers; to supply a channel of intercourse between the army and the bodies of clergy of different denominations, through which the latter might learn the wants of the former, and to give to the labors of the chaplains and other ministers in the army, the unity and impulse of an ecclesiastical organization within their own peculiar field."(29)

Rev Beverly Tucker Lacy

Compatriot Craig Rains gave us this image of a portrait of the Reverend Beverly Tucker Lacy. It was given to him by Greg Mertz of the National Park Service and the painting is in the collection of Washington and Lee University.

"We have a chaplain that came to us today, the Rev. Mr. Lacy of Fredericksburg," wrote Major Jedediah Hotchkiss, Jackson's topographical engineer, to his wife, "he is to stay some time, so we may have preaching again, the bad weather having prohibited it, out of doors. Mr. Lacy says the Yankees used the Church in Falmouth for a hospital a while last year then cleaned it out and made a theatre of it."(30) The Rev. Beverly Tucker Lacy, a Presbyterian, was invited by the General to his headquarters to be "chaplain-at-large" (31) in the II Corps. Rev. Lacy began his duties Sunday, March 1, 1863. One of his first duties was to found a Chaplains' Association of the Second [and eventually the Third] Army Corps.(32)

Rev. Lacy was remembered as a "genial gentleman, an indefatigable worker, and a powerful and effective preacher."(33) For the objectives the General had laid out for him, Lacy would need to be all three, for he was to be the paradigm—the model and example for other chaplains to emulate.

Many historians first mention Rev. Lacy during the aftermath of the battle of Chancellorsville, for it was he who was present with General Jackson after Jackson's tragic wounding and subsequent fatal bout of pneumonia. It was he who took Jackson's amputated arm to his brother's farm in Ellwood for burial. It was he who carried to Jackson General Robert E. Lee's message: "…tell him I wrestled in prayer for him last night, as I never prayed, I believe, for myself."(34) It was Rev Lacy who baptized Jackson's daughter Julia April 23, 1863.(35)

Interestingly, General Lee, via General Jeb Stuart, used Lacy's knowledge of the roads and byways in and around Chancellorsville (Lacy had served a church in the area} to satisfy himself that the orders given to General Jackson were not beyond the soldiers' endurance. However, Lacy was with Jackson that same night. The General was convinced that the roads Lacy knew best were too close to the Union lines, so he sent Lacy out with Major Jedediah Hotchkiss to reconnoiter a more concealed route. This Lacy and Hotchkiss accomplished, and it was the route Jackson's II Corps took to turn the Union flank.(36)

After Jackson's death Rev. Lacy stayed on with the II Corps as headquarters chaplain under Lieutenant General Richard Ewell. The swirl of questions that asked God's reasons for taking Jackson rippled through the Corps, and at least one sermon of two Rev. Lacy preached June 28 at the Carlisle Barracks concerned his fallen chief. Other non-military Presbyterian clergy were quick to point out Jackson's death was the South's chastisement for its many sins. The hope remained, said Rev. Ramsey, Jackson's friend and pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Lynchburg, that God could raise up another like Jackson.(37) Rev. Lacy believed that God intended to emphasize Jackson's Christian and military virtues by taking him at the height of his career. He agreed with his peers that God desired to teach the South to trust in no man but in God alone. God was disciplining Southerners for their sins (including the sin of idolizing Jackson); however, the South would in time regain divine favor.(38)

Dick Ewell was given command of the II Corps June 1, 1863. Three weeks later Col. Sandie Pendleton was named Chief of Staff after Chief of Staff Lt. Col. Charles Faulkner resigned from the army. Rev. Lacy continued as Chaplain-At-Large.(39)

Photo of Beverly Tucker Lacy

This photo was sent to us by Sanford L. Steelman, Jr. who is married to Elizabeth, the great-great granddaughter of Rev. Lacy. He obtained the photo from his wife's neice whose husband is the pastor at the church in St. Louis that Rev. Lacy pastored after the war.

Ewell was natured quite differently from Jackson. He possessed a mercurial temper that led him to be optimistic one moment and pessimistic the next. He also lacked the decision-making skills of his former commander.(40) Ewell did not accord the same influence to Lacy as did Jackson. Five days after Ewell's promotion, William Pendleton (himself a minister) and Presbyterian Bishop John Johns discussed with the General ways to proclaim the gospel to the soldiers; Rev. Lacy was noticeably absent.(41) But, Rev. Lacy outlasted Dick Ewell and ended his Chaplain-At-Large career in 1864 under II Corps commander Major General John Gordon.

Epilogue

The religious revivals in the Southern camps during the summer and autumn 1863, after the losses at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, were, according to Rev. J. William Jones, stunning successes. Conversions, confessions, baptisms, and a real searching for God spread across the Army of Northern Virginia. Rev. Beverly Tucker Lacy's preaching (called "flowery" by Dick Ewell's wife's family) amply fed the flames of revival.

Outside the army, Robert Dabney's sermons and broadsides lifted up the belief that, like the biblical Israelites who had been beaten, God had not abandoned them. Seek and obey God, trust in God only, and God will bless our endeavors.

In retrospect, this is a request for God's overarching love, care, and compassion. It is the image of a bow—a rainbow—"Of Freedom, Peace, Victory, bent over all." (42)
May this image be our legacy, too.

ENDNOTES

28. Quoted in Jones, op. cit., p. 94 and Dabney, Life and Campaigns of Lieut.-Gen. Thomas J. Jackson , pp. 647-648.
29. Dabney, Life and Campaigns of Lieut.-Gen. Thomas J. Jackson , p. 648.
30. Letter of Jedediah Hotchkiss to his wife dated March 1, 1863, found in the University of Virginia’s Electronic Text Center (http://etext.lib.virginia.edu).
31. Since the rank of “Corps Chaplain” did not exist and since the Confederate government did commission Rev. Lacy as an army chaplain without a regimental assignment, the title “Chaplain-At-Large” seems the best fit. This is the title used in Jones, op. cit. p. 530.
32. Jones, op. cit. , p. 325.
33. Ibid , p. 96.
34. Douglas Southall Freeman, Robert E. Lee [vol. II], (New York: Scribners, 1936), p. 562.
35. Calvert County Biographies, found at http://www.joeydragon.com/Calvert%20County/Biotext1.htm
36. Freeman, op. cit. , pp. 521-523.
37. Daniel W. Stowell, “Stonewall Jackson and the Providence of God “ in Religion and the American Civil War . eds, Harry S. Stout, Charles Reagan Wilson , (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 193-195.
38. Ibid , p. 197.
39. Donald Pfanz, Richard S. Ewell: A Soldier’s Life , (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1998), p. 277.
40. Ibid. , p. 279.
41. Ibid. , pp. 279-280.
42. See n. 2.

WORKS CITED

Rev Beverly Tucker Lacy's Tombstone

This photo of Rev. Lacy's tombstone was also sent to us by Sanford L. Steelman, Jr. as well as Rev. Lacy's Narrative of his War Experiences. Click here to read the "Beverly Tucker Lacy's Narrative of his War Experiences" from the Dabney Collection of the Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Books and Articles :
Chesebrough, David B. Clergy Dissent in the Old South, 1830-1865 . Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1996.
Dabney, Robert L. A Defence of Virginia . New York: E.J. Hale & Son, 1867.
Dabney, Robert L. Life and Campaigns of Lieut.-Gen. Thomas J. Jackson . New York: Blelock Co., 1866.
Freeman, Douglas Southall. Robert E. Lee [vol. II]. New York: Scribners, 1936.
Hanley, Mark Y. Beyond a Christian Commonwealth: The Protestant Quarrel with the American Republic, 1830-1860 . Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.
Henderson, George F. R. Stonewall Jackson and the American Civil War . Vol. 1. New York: Longman, 1905.
Holifield, E. Brooks. The Gentlemen Theologians: American Theology in Southern Culture, 1795-1860 . Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1978.
Jones, J. William. Christ in the Camp . Harrisonville,VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1986.
Krick, Robert. Stonewall Jackson at Cedar Mountain . Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1990.
Mitchell, Reid. Civil War Soldiers . New York: Penguin Books, 1988.
Parrish, T. Michael. Robert Taylor, Soldier Prince of Dixie . Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992.
Pfanz, Donald. Richard S. Ewell: A Soldier’s Life . Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.
Schweiger, Beth Barton. The Gospel Working Up: Progress and the Pulpit in Nineteenth Century Virginia . New York: Oxford, 2000.
Shattuck, Jr., Gardiner H. A Shield and Hiding Place . Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1987.
Stowell, Daniel W. “Stonewall Jackson and the Providence of God” in Religion and the American Civil War . eds, Harry S. Stout, Charles Reagan Wilson. New York: Oxford, 1998.
Thompson, John R. “The Battle Rainbow” in H. M. Wharton, War Songs and Poems of the Southern Confederacy . Edison, NJ: Castle Books, 2000
Wood, J. W. Civil War Generalship: The Art of Command . Westport, CT: Prager Pub, 1997.
Woods, Henry M. Robert Lewis Dabney: Prince Among Theologians and Men . A Memorial Address delivered before West Hanover Presbytery at its Fall Meeting, 1936.From the Internet :
University of Virginia’s Electronic Text Center (http://etext.lib.virginia.edu).
Calvert County Biographies, (http://www.joeydragon.com/Calvert%20County/Biotext1.htm)
The Battle Rainbow written by Chaplain Russ Campbell
Copyright © 2003 Russell Campbell