In order to get an accurate picture of the life and times of the Southern people just prior to and during the War for Southern Independence, one must consider the nature of southern religion and its clergy. The institution of Southern Protestantism and the strong influence of the Christian clergy were two of the major factors that molded southern social and political values for sixty years prior to the war. While Northern Unitarianism waged its war of idealism against the South, the South waged its defensive war against Northern liberal religion in order to preserve its conservative Protestant heritage.
Of all the historical accounts of the War for Southern Independence, only a small amount deals with its religious and spiritual aspects. Yet, in some respects this war was as much a religious crusade, as it was a military campaign. "A more religious war was never waged by any nation than that now entered upon by the southern people," wrote the editor of the Richmond Dispatch in June 1861. During this trying time of national turmoil, there were many southern Christian ministers that displayed unusual courage and were a source of moral encouragement and spiritual guidance throughout the war. Moses Drury Hoge was one such noble man of God who faithfully served his fellow citizens and the cause of the Confederacy.
Moses Drury Hoge was born on September 18, 1818 in Prince Edward County, Virginia to Hampden-Sydney College Vice President Samuel Davies Hoge and his wife Elizabeth. Samuel Hoge moved his family to Athens, Ohio in 1820, but was there only six years before passing away. Moses went to live with his uncle, Drury Lacy in New Bern, NC in 1836 and entered Hampden-Sydney College in the fall. He graduated as Valedictorian of his class in 1839. After several months he then entered Union Theological Seminary in Prince Edward County as a ministerial student. In 1843 he accepted the call as assistant to the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Richmond, VA. In 1845, with the help of his denomination, Dr. Hoge became founder and pastor of Richmond's Second Presbyterian Church where he faithfully remained for fifty-four years.
Rev. Hoge soon became very active in serving not only the members of the church, but also the citizens of the city. In 1848 he established a school for girls and served as Headmaster until 1852. His denominational duties included preaching, traveling, lecturing and conducting revival services. In the late 1840's Rev. Hoge, with his friend Rep.James McDowell, was instrumental in pushing through a
bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would allow
chaplains in every regiment of the army. He stated "I have thus
been the humble instrument in originating an action which has resulted
in the appointment of chaplains for every regiment where as before there
were none". He was a man that was held in high esteem not only
for his intellectual abilities, his untiring service to the people,
his sincere conviction and dedication to God's Word, but his leadership
qualities and was therefore offered the presidency of two southern colleges.
He declined both offers in order to remain as pastor in Richmond.
Early on, Dr. Hoge was intensely interested in ministerial work among the soldiers in the Confederate Army. Governor John Letcher soon appointed him to the Council for Chaplains. He became a regular preacher at the Camp of Instruction in Richmond and preached to over 100,000 men during the course of the war. He soon became a favorite speaker among the soldiers of the Stonewall Brigade.
Corporal James P. Smith records: "One Sunday afternoon, by our invitation, Dr. Hoge drove out to preach in the camp of the Stonewall Brigade. How well I remember the great assembly of young soldiers, seated on the ground like the five thousand at Bethsaida, in companies Of the sermon I have no distinct recollection, but the prayer, with far reaching distinctness and with appeal and tenderness went up through the open skies to the God of so many fathers and mothers, to the great Captain of our Salvation, and went down into the hearts of those boys in gray and tears were on many faces and strong desires in many hearts. Near the preacher, on a log sat Stonewall Jackson, and with him a circle of men of rank and on one side a choir of boys who knew their hymns well."
Dr. Hoge was so dedicated to the cause and the soldiers of the Confederacy that he returned to the
See CONFEDERATE CHAPLAIN page 5