Robert E. Lee – Day of Prayer

Robert E. Lee’s Proclamation of a Day of Fasting, Humiliation
and Prayer – the results of Prayer. General Lee’s death.

Robert E. Lee Proclaims a Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer –
“Soldiers,We have Sinned against Almighty God”

Gettysburg marked a turning point in the war; the South no longer had the battle against the North. Though there would be another two years of fighting, the North began getting an upper hand with their superior resources and manpower. On August 21, 1863, Jefferson Davis called for a day of fasting and prayer. Lee issued the following order regarding it:

General Order No. 83
Headquarters Army Northern Virginia, August 13, 1863
The President of the Confederate States has, in the name of the people, appointed the 21st day of August as a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer. A strict observance of the day is enjoined upon the officers and soldiers of the army. All military duties, except such as are absolutely necessary, will be suspended. The commanding officers of brigades and regiments are requested to cause divine services, suitable to the occasion, to be performed in their respective commands.
Soldiers! We have sinned against Almighty God. We have forgotten his signal mercies, and have cultivated a revengeful, haughty, and boastful spirit. We have not remembered that the defenders of a just cause should be pure in his eyes; that “our times are in his hands;” and we have relied too much on our own arms for the achievement of our independence. God is our only refuge and our strength. Let us humble ourselves before Him. Let us confess our many sins, and beseech Him to give us a higher courage, a purer patriotism, and more determined will; that He will convert the hearts of our enemies, that He will hasten the time when war, with its sorrows and sufferings, shall cease, and that He will give us a name and place among the nations of the earth. 1

The Results of Prayer – “A Precious Revival was in Progress – 15,000 Professions of Faith in Christ”
Chaplain Jones of the Confederate Army reported the following regarding the spiritual revival which resulted from this day of fasting, humiliation and prayer:

We can never forget the effect produced by the reading of this order at the solemn services of that memorable fast day. A precious revival was already in progress in many of the commands. The day was almost universally observed, the attendance upon preaching an other services was very large; the solemn attention and starting tear attested the deep interest felt; and the work of grace among the troops widened and deepened, and went gloriously on until there had been at least fifteen thousand professions of faith in Christ as a personal Savior. How far these grand results were due to this fast-day, or to the quiet influence and fervent prayers of the commanding general, eternity alone shall reveal… 2

Robert E. Lee’s Death
“Leaning Trustfully upon the All-sustaining Arm –
he Passed from this World to the Realities of the Hereafter”

Robert E. Lee’s last days were written by Colonel William Preston Johnston for Reverend J.W. Jones in his Personal Reminiscences of General Robert E. Lee, 1874.

The death of General Lee was not due to any sudden cause, but was the result of agencies dating as far back as 1863…In October, 1869, he was again attacked by inflammation of the heart-sac, accompanied by muscular rheumatism of the back, right side, and arms. The action of the heart was weakened by this attack…His decline was rapid, yet gentle; and soon after nine o’clock on the morning of October 12th, he closed his eyes, and his soul passed peacefully from earth…General Lee’s closing hours were consonant with his noble and disciplined life. Never was more beautifully displayed how a long and severe education of mind and character enables the soul to pass with equal step through this supreme ordeal; never did the habits and qualities of a lifetime, solemnly gathered into a few last sad hours, more grandly maintain themselves amid the gloom and shadow of approaching death. The reticence, the self-contained composure, the obedience to proper authority, the magnanimity and the Christian meekness, that marked all his actions, still preserved their sway, in spite of the inroads of disease and the creeping lethargy that weighed down his faculties…Leaning trustfully upon the all-sustaining Arm, the man whose stature, measured by mortal standards, seemed so great, passed from this world of shadows to the realities of the hereafter. 3

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Bibliography:

1  Lattimore, Ralston B. (ed.) The Story of Robert E. Lee, as told in hi sown Words and those of his Contemporaries. Washington, D.C.: Colortone Press, 1964, p. 12.
I bid. p. 13.
Lee, Robert E., Captain. Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee by his Son. New York: Doubleday, Page and Company, 1924, pp. 88, 89.

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