Mistaken Mode of Baptism

Occasionally, however, even good men brought criticism upon themselves by a doctrinal lapse or other indiscretion. One such case involved a Baptist chaplain who encountered a mortally wounded man who, having made a profession of faith, desired baptism. The soldier was of the Baptist tradition and believed, as did the chaplain, that immersion was the only scriptural method. The chaplain, being urged by the soldier, whom he felt sure was dying, poured much water over him, pronouncing the formula of baptism. The soldier died a few hours later. When the chaplain's act was made known to his fellow Baptist ministers, he was roundly rebuked. At length the chaplain found it necessary to take a leave of absence from the army, return to his home church, publicly apologize, and promise never to do so again. The Religious Herald, in reporting the story, stated that the chaplain wept when he faced the congregation and begged their forgiveness for his indiscretion. He assured them that there was no lapse in his doctrinal belief but that under the conditions imposed he had compromised himself. Such occurrences were rare in the lives of Southern chaplains.

Charles F. Pitts. Chaplains in Gray: The Confederate Chaplain's. Shelbyville, TN: Bible & Literature Missionary Foundation, 1957. P 8-9