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The Handwriting On the Wall
John Quincy Adams Campbell, of the Fifth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, believed that God’s handwriting was on the wall. If the South wanted freedom, she must be willing to ...

The Handwriting on the Wall

John Quincy Adams Campbell, of the Fifth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, believed that God’s handwriting was on the wall. If the South wanted freedom, she must be willing to grant others the same opportunities for freedom.

Thursday, November 12, 1863

Started at 7 o’clock A.M., marched 3 miles towards Winchester and camped. I have employed myself today to writing letters. We will probably start for Chattanooga tomorrow. General Grant is evidently gathering a large army at Chattanooga, and a big battle will doubtless be fought in Northern Georgia within 30 days. It is useless to speculate as the result. While I believe that it will result in a great victory for our army, I cannot tell what the result will be, if even we should be victorious. Every day my conviction becomes firmer that the hand of God is in this and that in spite of victories and advantages he will deny us peace unless we grant to others the liberties we ask for ourselves—“break every yoke and let the oppressed go free. The difficulties of this war have proved knotty questions to our Belshazzars and our “wise men” but in a generation from this time, every child will so be a Daniel—able to interpret the handwriting of God, telling us that we have not been faithful to the charge he committed to our trust. My earnest prayer to God is that we may have mercy and not judgment. I believe that our Nation will yet emerge from the conflict, entire and triumphant but it will only be after she has been purged with fire …

For Campbell, the outcome of the Civil War hinged on “breaking the yoke” of the oppressor. Although the war did not begin over the issue of slavery, it soon became the rallying cry for Union sentiment. Campbell prayed that the nation would emerge unified and purified by God’s righteous fire and the absence of slavery.

Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for: through the fear of the Lord, a man avoids evil.

Proverbs 16:6


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