A National Day of Fast
On this date in 1862, Confederate President Jefferson Davis proclaimed a national day of “Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer.” Aware of what was in store for his beloved country, Davis asked for the fast so that people could have the opportunity to reflect on the circumstances at hand.
Ulysses S. Grant, a relatively unknown Union general, had won significant battles at Fort Henry on February 8 and Fort Donelson on February 18. This was a daunting situation for the South, because the loss of the two forts signified loss of control of the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, thus allowing the Yankees to attack the Confederacy’s interior. Nashville had been lost to Federal invasion on February 23, which was also alarming to the Confederacy.
Davis’ proclamation for a day of prayer was significant for a time when this country was deeply rooted in Christian ideals and beliefs. Every event that occurred during the Civil War was attributed to God’s will. Davis had previously proclaimed a national day of fasting on June 13, 1861, and would request ten more during the course of the war, asking Southern citizens to attend church and fervently pray for the preservation of the South.