In our last article we saw how the Civil War touched the life of J. R. Graves. Now we turn to one of his partners, James M. Pendleton. By 1861 Pendleton was the president of Union University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He was 49 years of age, married, and with four children ranging from 29 to 6 years of age. As for his political views, Pendleton stuck with the Union. In his autobiography he wrote,"My friend Graves visited me and spent hours in trying to persuade me to declare myself in favor of the Confederacy. He thought my influence and usefulness would be greatly increased if I would do so, and would be ruined if I did not. I told him that if the Confederacy established itself I would either obey its laws or remove from its jurisdiction. This was not satisfactory, and after saying many things he asked me if I could not say that I preferred the Confederate Government to that of the United States. My answer was, 'I can't lie.' This closed our interview. I make all allowances for the anxiety of Graves, Dayton, and others on my account; for they honestly believed that the Confederacy would be a success, and that I would occupy the place of a "Tory" of the Revolution. The only question with me was, "What is right?" Having settled this question in favor of the United States, I took my stand, and there were very few who stood with me. Those were dark days." (Reminiscences of A Long Life, by James Madison Pendleton, pp. 119-120)The May 11, 1861 edition of the Tennessee Baptist, had an article by Pendleton entitled, "Call on God in Prayer." This article gives us an insight to his views concerning the war that was coming. He wrote,"This is emphatically a time for prayer. And why? Because ruin threatens our country. There is danger of a terrible war. And what is more to be dreaded? In 1850 I wrote as follows and see no reason to retract the opinions then expressed.By midsummer the American flag was taken down from the county court house in Murfreesboro, and was replaced with the Confederate "stars and bars." Pendleton wrote, "I was known to be a Union man, and it was no advantage to me that nearly all my family connections, by blood and marriage, were on the other side." This put him into grave danger and he knew of death threats that had been made against him. Again he wrote, "I knew not what might happen. I supposed that if measures of personal violence were resorted to, it would be done in the night; and how often, before going to bed, did I arrange a back window and shutter, so that I could escape in a noiseless way."
"War is a satire on civilization - a reproach on humanity. It is legalized butchery. It is the employment of the resources of government to destroy life. It is a systematic attempt to create a necessity for as many premature graves as possible - to abbreviate the day of mercy - and hurry souls with terrific velocity into the eternal world. O, how monstrous is war! How much blood have belligerent armies shed! How many human beings have fallen on fields of battle! How often have the waters of old oceans been discolored with blood! And yet wars have been waged on the slightest and most ridiculous pretexts. National sensitiveness has been excited by childish misunderstandings, and kingdoms have been thrown into deadly antagonisms.
"When I wrote the foregoing I was thinking of hostile nations. Nothing was farther from my thoughts than our own nation divided against itself. Can this be so? When I wake in the morning and think of an American civil war it seems to me I have been dreaming. I cannot believe for the moment that American blood is to be shed by American hands. O that this was a dream! Alas, it is not. The probability is that ere long swords will be drawn by thousands from their scabbards - bayonets glisten in the sun light - and death-dealing cannon pour forth their thundering roar. And for what? To destroy the lives of American citizens! To drench the land of Washington in fraternal blood! To confirm the tyrants of the old world in their opinion that man is not capable of self-government! Alas, this is a lamentation and shall be for a lamentation.
"I see much in both Northern newspapers and Southern to disapprove. The North underestimates the resources and the valor of the South and the South attributes very little courage to the North. What I have to say is that the man who thinks either the North or the South deficient in unfaltering prowess in the day of battle has not read American history just as I have read it. However, I may have received false impressions.
"If there is a general war between the North and south, it will probably be the most appalling struggle of modern times. It is not incredible that from five hundred thousand to five millions of soldiers will fall on the field of battle. Sorrow will visit every family, and bereaved parents will say with breaking hearts, "blessed are the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never gave suck." No matter how the struggle ends, those who survive it will perish before they see reparation of the terrible injuries it inflicts.
"Is there no way to prevent the colossal calamity of civil war in the once favored, now ruined country? Vain is the help of man. Politicians do not care about doing what is right. The few Statesmen who yet live are unable to do anything. We have no Calhoun to protect earnestly and eloquently against war, as in 1849 when the "Oregon question" attracted so much attention. We have no Webster to exemplify the declaration that 'eloquence is logic on fire.' We have no Clay with a genius ever fertile of pacificator expedients. Alas, these great men sleep in death.
"I have never been as deeply impressed as now with the fact that God alone can extricate this nation from the calamities in which it is involved. Madness is in the hearts of rulers and people. I fear multitudes are thirsting for blood. The time for negotiation and compromise is gone. There is absolutely no hope for this nation but in God. Hence I say to all Christians, CALL ON GOD IN PRAYER. 'Prayer moves the hand that moves the world.' 'Man's extremity is God's opportunity.' Who knows but Jehovah will in answer to prayer signally interpose, and grant us so great a deliverance that we shall be "like them that dream." He can with infinite ease bring order out of confusion, peace out of trouble, light out of darkness, and glory out of gloom. Pray, Christian, without ceasing. Your supplications may accomplish great things for your country. And if not - if it is the immutable purpose of God to chasten this nation with the dread scourge of war - your prayer will return into your own bosom. God will bless you personally.
"The reader will observe that I say nothing as to how we became involved in our present national troubles. With this matter we have nothing to do now. The troubles are upon us and threaten to become intensified a thousandfold. Let us ask God to deliver us. I close by repeating my caption, call on God in prayer." - James M. Pendleton.
With the closing of the school because of the war Pendleton had to decide how he was going to support his family. The last day of August He placed his family into a buggy with Rev. G. W. Welch, a theological student. He took the train and met them in Nashville where they began their journey north. The state of Tennessee was then void of the voices of the three Landmarkers and they would never again join together. Only God knows how much difference it would have made if the war had not come and the three partners had stayed together.
===========[From Oxford (MS) Baptist Institute Bulletin, January/February, 2012. Document provided by Ben Stratton, Farmington, KY; David Gregg pastors in Florence, AL and teaches at Oxford Baptist Institute. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.] More on James M. Pendleton
Baptist History Homepage