amuel Adams was one of the founders and a key leader of the Sons of Liberty, a secret resistance group during the early days of the American War for Independence. Adams was a true statesman. His contribution to the cause, with his ability to rally fellow patriots by his strong rhetoric and principled perspective, cannot be overstated. A signer of the Declaration of Independence, Adams went on to serve as President of the Massachusetts Senate, Lieutenant Governor and Governor of Massachusetts.
“If ye love… the tranquility of servitude [better] than the animated contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!” —Samuel Adams
“A horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory is of the LORD.” —Proverbs 21:31
The Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862
fter fifteen months of brutal combat—stretching from Arizona Territory to the eastern seaboard, as well as across the Atlantic Ocean—Union and Confederate armies met in the rolling countryside of western Maryland, in a small town named Sharpsburg, to fight a battle on a Wednesday, which proved to be the bloodiest single day in American history. It still is.
The Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862
Following the Confederate victory at II Manassas in August of 1862, Robert E. Lee, in command of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, made the controversial decision to move his army into Union territory and take the war to the enemy’s ground. A persistent Southern hope throughout the war centered on making the Northerners so tired of the bloodshed that they would negotiate a peace and end the war. That was one thought President Abraham Lincoln could not and would not countenance.
General Robert E. Lee (1807-1870), commander of the Army of Northern Virginia
The President’s most recent hand-picked General, John Pope, had failed him at Manassas. He turned once again to George B. McClellan, a man whom Lincoln knew hated him and was a proven failure, though popular with the army itself. General McClellan knew that Lee was somewhere in Western Maryland, and his job was to track him down, bring the Confederates to battle, and put an end to that army. Providence handed McClellan the opportunity to do just that.
Union General John Pope (1822-1892)
Lee had divided his army into three parts, sending Stonewall Jackson and 13,000 men to capture the Union supply depot at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, defended by a force of about 12,700. General Longstreet and his Corps continued north to Hagerstown, Maryland, and General Lee with the remainder of his forces camped at Sharpsburg along Antietam Creek. The Union Army of the Potomac marched to Frederick, Maryland, the last known location of the Southern Army. While camping in the vicinity, two Yankee soldiers found General Lee’s entire strategic layout written on a General Order and wrapped around three cigars, carelessly dropped by a Confederate general. They rushed the information up the chain of command and McClellan suddenly possessed the opportunity to crush Lee’s army in detail and end the war.
Union General George B. McClellan (1826-1885)
Confederate observers on South Mountain, which screened Sharpsburg from the Northern army, saw the blue host emerge from Frederick and begin its march across South Mountain to destroy the Southern army. The outlying Southern troops were ordered to Sharpsburg, units were placed in the gaps of the mountain to slow down the overwhelming onslaught, and Lee prepared for the battle of his and his nation’s life. The Southern army had its back to the Potomac River, was outnumbered, 38,000 to 87,000 and was hungry and tired. McClellan, whose reputation was one of caution and slowness, did not disappoint, taking two days to get into position, allowing time for the gray-clad invaders to concentrate at Sharpsburg. The stage was set for the greatest effusion of blood in the history of the United States.
Union troops attack Confederate forces at Turner’s Gap during the Battle of South Mountain, three days before the Battle of Antietam
The battle began early in the morning of September 17 as 8,000+ veteran Union infantry advanced up the Hagerstown turnpike against an approximately equal number of Confederates awaiting them along the post and rail fences and open fields of the farms that lay in the path. Most of the men on both sides were veterans and had proven themselves courageous and deadly many times in the past year. Confederate artillery in front and on the right flank of the Union attack opened fire, as did the massed Union artillery across Antietam Creek. The thunder and lightning of the big guns was both deafening and deadly.
Overview of the Battle of Antietam
The first phase of the battle immortalized places called the Dunker Church, the East Woods, Miller’s Cornfield, and the West Woods. After the two armies exhausted themselves, leaving more than 13,000 men on the ground dead and wounded, including two Union Corps commanders, they shifted the fight to “the Sunken Road” later known as the Bloody Lane. Another six or seven thousand fell here, including several generals. The Confederate line bent but did not break.
Dunker Church behind a field of Union and Confederate dead
A monument marks the sunken road, later known as “Bloody Lane”
The final phase of the battle pitted some 300+ Georgia infantry defending the Rohrbach Bridge against the entire 9th Corps of some 12,000 men and fifty guns, commanded by General Ambrose P. Burnside, who took three hours to get across the bridge and finally breach the Confederate line. They were struck on the flank by the timely arrival of A.P. Hill’s Light Division who virtually ran to the battlefield after receiving the surrender of the Federal forces at Harper’s Ferry, only 26 miles away. While the Southern wounded were carried to Virginia hospitals, Lee remained in line of battle the next day, daring McClellan to attack. Thinking he was outnumbered, although he had an entire Corps of fresh troops, more than all the survivors of the CSA army, he allowed Lee to slip back to safety during the night. The cost of one day of battle shocked both nations: about 23,000 combined casualties with nearly 4,000 dead on the field. Northern photographers rushed to the battlefield and took dozens of photographs, bringing the grim horror of war home to the civilian population for the first time. The shocking truth of battle stunned the nation.
Union General Ambrose Burnside (1824-1881)
Infantry regiments cross Rohrbach Bridge, later known as Burnside’s Bridge
President Lincoln declared Antietam a Union victory and issued the Emancipation Proclamation, adding a new goal to the war—the emancipation of slaves behind the Confederate lines. His move had diplomatic repercussions in England, preventing them forever from recognizing the Confederacy. He also sacked McClellan for not chasing after the retreating Confederates. He replaced him with Ambrose Burnside, who would lead the Union Army to be slaughtered at Fredericksburg, Virginia three months later. As a micro-manager, the President’s ill-starred choices would continue until he brought in George Meade. Lee soon recovered from his losses, won two more huge battles before trying another invasion of the north, the second time paying a visit to another small town, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
“The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory belongs to the LORD.” —Proverbs 21:31
The Battle of Lake Erie, September 10, 1813
he most unpopular war in American history took place from 1812 to 1815 between the United States and Great Britain. It was so unpopular that New England representatives met in Hartford, Connecticut to discuss the war, trade, and the possibility of secession from the Union. The Americans suffered serial defeats in every theatre of the war for about two years, with the exception of several significant naval victories over individual British ships of the line, and the annihilation of their fleet on Lake Erie, September 10, 1813. The War Party in Congress finally had something to cheer about.
Oliver Hazard Perry standing after abandoning the Lawrence at the Battle of Lake Erie, September 10, 1813
In the election of 1810, a number of young congressmen were elected for the first time, several of whom became known as “The War Hawks” because they were fed up with peaceful attempts to stop British encroachments. Henry Clay made sure that War Hawks were given chairmen assignments in Congress that would prove strategic in case of war with Britain. The more belligerent members of Congress cited the impressment of American sailors to serve on British ships, their continued supply of weapons to hostile tribes in the South and Midwest to kill Americans on the frontier, and British restrictions on trade with neutral powers, as causas belli. England was still at war with France and used whatever measures that contributed to their continued mastery of the oceans. Congress declared war along strict political lines—not one Federalist voted in favor.
Henry Clay (1777-1852) gave “War Hawks” chairmen assignments in Congress
An 1812 map showing the Great Lakes region
The Great Lakes stood between British Canada and the northern tier of the United States. Once war was declared, Lakes Ontario, Erie, and Michigan became strategic highways for moving supplies and troops, as well as attacking New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan Territory, or hitting back at Canada. Both sides began boat-building programs and merchant ship seizures to put warships in Lake Erie. Finding enough experienced seamen for both sides proved a daunting recruitment task.
The American General William Hull had been sent with a small army to hold Fort Detroit. British Major General Isaac Brock, with a coalition force of British, Canadian and warriors of native tribes, laid siege to Detroit after Hull gave up early on an invasion of Canada. Hull panicked after a few shells from British guns struck the fort, and surrendered his army, opening up the entire Michigan territory to invasion. The only ships in Lake Erie were a small British squadron of a sloop, a brig, and a schooner.
General William Hull (1753-1825)
The American Secretary of the Navy authorized the construction of four gunboats at Presque Isle, near Erie, Pennsylvania. A contract to build “four wooden ships” was forthcoming and a master shipwright assigned to duty there. Another shipwright was added in early 1813 and guns were shipped from the Chesapeake Bay and Pittsburgh to arm the boats. An attempt of the British to interfere with the construction failed, because a sandbar off the coast in Lake Erie made it too shallow to attack.
Oliver Hazard Perry (1785-1819), “Hero of Lake Erie”
A senator from Rhode Island pulled strings to get Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry assigned to the burgeoning Lake Erie command. Commander Robert Heriot Barclay took command of the British squadron. Through the summer of 1813, both sides hurried to build a viable fighting force. Commander Barclay was able to set up a blockade off of Sandusky, Ohio where Perry had established his little fleet at Put-in-Bay. In preparing for battle, Perry raised a flag which had the phrase, “Don’t Give Up The Ship”, the final words of a previous American sea captain.
Robert Heriot Barclay (1786-1837)
The Battle of Lake Erie, September 10, 1813
The two sides sailed to battle off Put-in-Bay on September 10, 1813 with the Americans’ nine ships of three sizes against the six ships of four sizes in the British squadron. Many of the sailors were soldiers who volunteered to serve aboard the vessels. The battle lasted about three hours. Perry’s flagship, the Lawrence, was reduced to a pile of splinters, and after his last gun was out of action, he was rowed through plunging fire, moving his flag to the Niagara, having lost four-fifths of his crew dead and wounded. The Niagara and the other American ships, in turn, broke the British line and pounded the enemy ships to a shambles. With Barclay severely wounded, and most of his officers dead, the British ships surrendered. Perry’s terse note to General William Henry Harrison went down in naval history as a classic of its kind:
A restoration / recreation of the brig Niagara on Lake Erie—one of the key players in the battle, and one of the ships built expressly for this purpose
Dear General, we have met the enemy and they are ours, two ships, two brigs, one schooner, and one sloop. Yours, with great respect and esteem, O. H. Perry.”
To the Secretary of the Navy, Perry added:
“It has pleased the Almighty to give to the arms of the United States a signal victory over their enemies on this lake.”
An 1875 photograph of the hulk of Perry’s flagship the Lawrence, raised from Misery Bay
The victory led directly to the defeat of the western British land forces at the Battle of the Thames in Canada, and secured Lake Erie for the United States for the remainder of the war. The psychological effect of the battle on Lake Erie positively changed the attitudes of thousands of Americans who were despairing of ever securing a victory over the British anywhere. It was a small encounter in a larger war, but as George Washington had found in the previous one, small wins can lead to large victories in the end.
Constructed from 1912-1915, Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial at Put-in-Bay, Lake Erie, Ohio, commemorates the American victory under Perry’s command
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” —Psalm 116:15
Captain Hugh White Killed at Second Manassas, August 30, 1862
“When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then battle is your calling, and peace has become sin; you must, at the price of dearest peace, lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy, with all the fire of your faith!” —Abraham Kuyper
ugh Augustus White was the fifth son and the seventh child of the Rev. William and Jane White. He was born in the Presbyterian manse in Charlottesville, Virginia in 1840. Twenty years later, Hugh had graduated from Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) at the age of 18 and his father was the pastor of Lexington Presbyterian Church in Lexington, Virginia where Hugh was a teacher in Deacon Thomas Jackson’s “colored Sunday School class”. Hugh was now studying for the Gospel ministry at Union Seminary, sitting at the feet of Professor Robert Lewis Dabney, who wrote that his “Christian character was as strong and decided as it was sweet, and so his faculties of mind were vigorous, as well as harmonious”. His professors all thought the “modest, gentle, and gracious” divinity student was destined for greatness as a preacher and as a pastor. God in His providential plan decided otherwise.
Lexington Presbyterian Church, where Hugh White’s father was pastor
Washington and Lee University, Lexington, VA where High White graduated at the age of 18
When Virginia seceded from the Union in April of 1861, the young men of Rockbridge County flocked to the colors. Hugh wrote his father from Seminary that he agonized over whether to continue his course toward pastoral ministry or join the army. He concluded after a day of fasting and prayer that he possessed a “firm conviction that I ought at once to take part in the defense of my native state, and especially of you and mother”. He enlisted as a private in the 4th Virginia Infantry, several companies of which came from his home county in the Shenandoah Valley. He served under his brother James, Professor of Greek at Washington College, and elected as Captain, in command of Company I, the “Liberty Hall Volunteers”.
Twenty-year-old Hugh wrote to his family that his desire was to “make my company good soldiers and good Christians”. In a letter after the Battle of First Manassas—where his brigade commander, Deacon Jackson became “Stonewall Jackson”—Hugh asked his father to visit the camp where he could preach to the soldiers, expecting great response. He said of Jackson that “I have learned to look up to him with implicit confidence, and to approach him with perfect freedom, being always assured of a kind and attentive hearing”. The young ministerial student never forgot his calling as a Christian and a pastor. He led prayer meetings, distributed New Testaments, witnessed to his fellow soldiers, and helped the regimental chaplain. He wrote his sister that “I long to spend my life in the work of saving souls, and to be kept back now when just on the verge of commencing my work is like being kept from home when it is just in sight. But I may do more good here than in the ministry”.
Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson (1824-1863)
Shenandoah Valley, Virginia
In the midst of the Shenandoah Valley Campaign, Hugh was elected Captain, to command his entire company. Heroism in battle, natural leadership qualities, and his warm consistency as a Christian had apparently resulted in his comrades’ greatest esteem. His old professor Dr. Dabney had earlier joined Jackson’s staff, and Hugh’s company became General Jackson’s personal guard. The war had brought together a vanguard of devout Christian men, in defense of their homes and opportunities to witness for Christ to a captive audience.
After the successful “Seven Days Campaign” around Richmond, the army moved north, placing Hugh and his men near Manassas Junction where they had first fought a little more than a year ago. Multiple thousands of men had died or been wounded or captured on both sides in the intervening months. In his last letter to his father, written August 24, 1862, Hugh wrote “I ought now more than ever to seek my strength, my happiness, my all in God. How could I live without Him? With Him no storm can disturb my peace, no danger can come nigh, no harm can befall, which will not do me good”.
Robert Lewis Dabney (1820-1898)
Five days later, on the night before the second day of the Battle of Second Manassas, Colonel William Baylor, a new convert to the Faith—in part from the witness of Hugh White, and in command of the Stonewall Brigade—proposed to Captain White, now one of his closest friends, to lead “a brief season of prayer to thank God for the victory and preservation of the day, and to beseech His protection and blessing during the continuance of this terrible conflict”. Chaplain A.C. Hopkins was called to the headquarters of the brigade, and they were joined by “nearly the whole of this brigade and those of many others” in the bivouac. “It was a tender, precious season of worship, there in line of battle and in full hearing of the enemy”.
Colonel William Baylor (1831-1862)
Jackson’s Cannon, Henry Hill, Manassas Battlefield
On the next day, the Confederate attack went forward, with thirty-one-year-old Will Baylor scooping up the colors of the 33rd Virginia as they fell, and no sooner had he urged the brigade to follow him, than he was killed, and the flag was grabbed by Hugh White, who led the brigade for a few moments and was himself struck down ahead of the charge, dying instantly at the height of the victory.
A Currier and Ives depiction of the Battle of Second Manassas, fought August 29-30, 1862
God does not promise us long life in the struggles of this world, but His grace is sufficient for the time He does ordain, and He calls for nothing more than our duty in obedience. A brief biography of Hugh was written by his father and published as a Gospel tract for the last two years of the Civil War in the South: “He was habitually cheerful and happy. Seeking to enjoy everything in God, he enjoyed God in everything, and thus even the vicissitudes of life ministered to his comfort. His life was beautiful, and his death safe, honorable and useful”.