34th Ohio Soldier Writes of Prayer Meetings in Camp on Flat Top Mountain in 1862
In a letter from Flat Top Mountain, [West] Virginia, on July 18, 1862, Sergeant John F. Sherrick of Company E, 34th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, describes the beauty of the area, and of prayer meetings being held in camp. Enlisting at age 27, Sherrick was later wounded at Fisher’s Hill, Virginia, on September 22, 1864, and died of his wounds at Baltimore on October 1, 1864. He is buried in the Loudon Park National Cemetery, Baltimore, Maryland.
Camp Flattop Tannery
Flattop Mountain July 18th, 1862
One & all
Once more I try to drop a line to you & endeavor to let you know of my whereabouts yet I know not what is the reason that I do not receive more letters from you, whether you never receive mine, or I yours.
Since our retreat from Princeton we have remained on Flattop Mountain which is a very healthy & pleasant place & the most romantic scenery of any camp we have ever been in. To go on the highest point one can see from 30 to 60 miles over a hilly or mountainous country which looks beautiful & to a great extent like some vast meadow or grain field when the wind blows making its surface a succession of waves. In the distance may be seen looking up like some dark cloud the top of some of the highest points of the blue ridge, nearer the Alleghany range & still nearer & nearly surrounding you smaller mountains, spurs of the Alleghany & numbers of large hills, thus you may form some idea of the scenery. The best of water & plenty of it flows from the top of this mountain. The health of the men here is good. There are very few in the hospital & our surgeons are almost idle. My health is still good.
We started a prayer meeting about a week ago & the 1st night there was 8 or 10 present & we continued on every night & the meeting has been growing both in numbers & interest & I tell you I found it was good for me to be there. Now we have a couple hundred present generally. Some confessing that they do not enjoy religion but did once & desire to start anew. Others say their “feet had well nigh slipped” but they felt encouraged & strengthened & were determined to persevere on & finally reach their “mansion in that sunlight clime”. One or two say they have felt a change of heart & that they enjoy themselves in a Saviors love & then what touching incidents are related. One man left home a professed Christian but since he was in the army he grew cold & indifferent in religion. He had a wife & 5 children at home & he was not blessed with much of this worlds goods. His companion took sick & died & his children are left without a home, cast upon the cold charity’s of the world, his wife requested him to meet her in heaven. It aroused him & now his only stay & support is the Savior & his love & mercy & then the prayers of many a pious mother or loved one is often spoke of & its mellowing influence is felt by more than one.
Amongst those thus assembled are a number of Germans & our meetings are carried on part in English & part in German & from various denominations yet they all seem to travel the same road & have the same theme to talk about namely the love of God, truly one can say here “How pleasant thus to dwell below in fellowship & love” when he sees them thus mingling together in harmony, but there are other things that detract from the loveliness of the scene, such as being in arms & the constant profanity & vulgarity of many others by which we are surrounded.
Oh that all would turn from the error of their way & seek salvation. Remember us in your prayers that much good may be done in the name of God & we all finally meet in heaven. Please answer & give my respects to all enquiring friends, I must close. Remaining yours as ever,
John F. Sherrick
Co. E. 34th Regt. O. V. P.
Via. Charleston W. Va.
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