Civil War Letters of James Henry Lauriston Hull
Office of Post Quarter Master
August 30th, 1863
My Dear Parents,
Another Sabbath morning finds me seated in good health in my monotonous old prison just after attending preaching at the quarterly meeting at the Methodist Church. In this town of evils, I finally believe they are practicing the word Method-(ist) literally. Oh such a system! Oh the vast difference between a quarterly meeting in this town where they seem to vie with each other in putting bunches of ribbon and other things, goose feathers, and other fancy laces, etc., on their “Beauregard” hats (until they really look like hen's nests) and then go to show them; and our preacher, not to speak of the cold formal manner of his speech, as he tries to say everything with exactly the peculiarly right vim and everything else in accordance. I say 'tis disheartening to see the great difference between this and a meeting of the same kind in Texas. There we have, at such times, soul rousing, soul inspiring, Heaven inspired sermons that send forth that same flame that burns on the speaker's heart to light up every man within hearing whose heart is not scored over with vice as with a hot fever.
I even heard a lady say in this town that if she should see a daughter of hers become excited and shout in a congregation she would be sure to whip her when they got home. Nay, you know I am no advocate of the shouting principle though I believe 'tis right for a person to express that happiness they find if they choose, and I am sure I would far rather see any person or persons shout 'till they were hoarse from it than sit in the cold, moody systematic manner I see so many, indeed all here! I really should not have known 'twas a quarterly meeting had it not been announced last meeting, unless I shall have taken the hint of something of the kind, by this having the "Lord's Supper" and passing the hat around, to which of course I added my "mite." But that Communion! After the sermon the preacher told the congregation such might leave as did not choose to stay till after the Lord's Supper, and I suppose there were a dozen or so remained! No wonder such coldness when there were so few to take any interest in Christianity. His text was very appropriate; 'twas in Matthew, and read something thus: "Unto him that hath shall be given in abundance, but unto him that hath not shall be taken even that which he hath, " speaking of men and their talents, which I suppose means that if we don't make use of what we have it will be taken away, and I fear what little remains of Religion they possessed has been taken away. I hope to find it different in our little church when I return, though I should find it thus in my heart which God forbid.
Well I shall go again this evening if I can slip away from this place, and then worry you again with another long, tedious account of our times going to church, but I hope to have better tidings to bring this evening. For the present, I will wear away the time by telling you some more of the “rumors” so current in this little villa. War of course. There are Yankees, ten thousand strong at Monroe, only 180 miles from this point and only 120 miles from Shreveport, so I expect you will hear of and from them before this reaches you, if it ever does. Well, this is reported for truth here, and they have already had a skirmish with our Cavalry at that place. General Walker’s Division will be here again in a day or two, and I’ll see all the boys again. …
Well, the lunch bell is ringing, and I must go – and I went, but when I got near the church I found I was likely to be the only colored person as the remainder were all black, so I haven’t anything more to say about the quarterly meeting except that thus it ended Sunday evening. That doesn’t look much like our meeting that was in session when I returned home, does it! So much for preaching in Alexandria. For one day, oh that I could once more sit under the sound of Mr. Wilson or Mr. Lucas’ voice again.
Well, ‘tis precious little news you will get from me this time. I can tell you, for I have written up this sheet telling you something about meetings, and I have just read it over & to save me I can’t think what I was driving at for a point at which to arrive and stop!
There is not much apprehension of a movement on this country from below here, though such a thing may be. as it is reported that the Yankees intend to make simultaneous advance on all Louisiana at once. They may come, but if they do, they won’t find us asleep—at least the Quarter Masters and the Clerks—they will be away towards Shreveport long before the Feds get to this little place!
J. H. L. Hull