Wednesday, April 2, 2014


A Man of Two Swords

He was a man of two swords, the sword of a Confederate cavalryman and the sword of the Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  Endeared by his comrades as “The Fighting Chaplain,” the Rev. Moses McCall fought valiantly in defense of his homeland and fought fervently to spread the word of God.  This former Laurens County minister and Cochran school teacher was hailed as one of the most revered Georgia Baptist ministers of the late 19th Century. 

Moses Nathaniel McCall, Jr. was born on January 6, 1831 in Screven County, Georgia.  A son of Moses Nathaniel McCall, Sr. and Caroline M. Griner, Moses became a minister at the age of sixteen in 1847 at Black Creek Church.  He was licensed to preach at Middleground Baptist Church(Screven County)  in1856, where his father has pastored in 1828.  McCall enrolled in Mercer University in Penfield, Georgia.   One the eve of the Civil War, Rev. McCall graduated second in his class.  He immediately accepted a position as minister in Sylvania.  Like most ministers of his day, Rev. McCall taught school in the local academy.

Just as Moses McCall was settling down into a quiet life in his homeland, violence erupted between the North and the South.  Moses, his father and four his brothers volunteered to serve the Confederacy.  Moses traveled to Savannah, where he enlisted as a private in Company B, 2nd Battalion, Georgia State Troops.  Because he was a minister, Rev. McCall was appointed by Georgia Governor Joseph Brown as a chaplain.  Following a re-organization of Georgia forces, Moses McCall was appointed Chaplain of the Fifth Georgia Cavalry. His brother Thomas was a 2nd Lieutenant and his brother Charles was a 2nd Corporal in the company.   His other brothers Daniel and Phillip also served for a time with their brother.  As Captain McCall, the young reverend took a leading role in organizing a company of cavalry soldiers in Screven County.  The company, known as Company F, became fully organized on January 20, 1863.   The regiment primarily saw action in the defense of coastal Georgia and South Carolina.  

On February 17, 1864, just three days before his company arrived the day after the critical Confederate victory at Olustee, Florida, Capt. McCall took the hand of Janie Warren Daniell.  The bride was a daughter of the Rev. David Garnto Daniell, a native of Laurens County, the first minister of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta, and a Confederate chaplain himself.   Janie McCall was described by those who knew her as “ a woman of rare charm, of great faith and a strong Christian character.”  She spent a good deal of her time in Savannah during the war, aiding the defenders of the coastal city.  When Union arsonists destroyed her parent’s home, she fled for safety to Augusta.  

During the summer, McCall’s regiment took part in the defense of Georgia’s heartland during General William Tecumseh Sherman’s dastardly destructive “March to the Sea.”  His most acclaimed heroism came when he intrepidly lead a charge  in the Battle of Noonday Church on June 15, 1864. McCall and his company saw violent action in the Battle of Atlanta five weeks later. Following the fall of Savannah just before Christmas in 1864, the Georgia cavalry withdrew northward into the Carolinas trying to protect the rear of the retreating column of surviving remnants of the once proud Army of the Tennessee and the a host of militia, reserves and state troops. Captain McCall laid down his cavalry sword in surrender on May 3, 1865 in Hillsboro, North Carolina.  Captain McCall never lost sight of his higher duty.  He made it his mission to never sheath his other  sword.  During the trials and travails of death and suffering, McCall was accessible to those who sought the comforts of God. 

Rev. McCall rode his horse back home to Screven County.  The war had taken a devastating toll on this Christian soldier, who never lost his courage and faith in his religious beliefs.   Georgia and the South was a virtual wasteland.    Men of God realized that in order for the people to cope with the loss of family, friends and freedoms, the Church would have to play a guiding role.  Rev. McCall removed to Longstreet, Georgia in northern Pulaski (now Bleckley) County, Georgia.  It was in that ancient community that Rev. McCall began a seven-year tenure as a teacher.   During that time, Rev. McCall served local churches Evergreen, Friendship, Blue Spring, Harmony, Mt. Zion, Hayneville and Laurens Hill, the latter being located near the Laurens -Bleckley line in southwestern Laurens County, following in the footsteps of his also heralded brother, the Rev. George McCall who served Baptist Churches in Laurens, Dodge, Pulaski, Wilkinson  and Twiggs County County before, during and after  the war.  

In 1873, the Moses and Janie McCall and their sons, Howard Henry, George Daniell and Phillip Boardman, moved to Hawkinsville, Georgia.   After four years in Hawkinsville, Rev. McCall and his family moved to his family seat in Screven County. The rigors of his teaching duties and his widespread circuit of pulpit appearances adversely affected his health.  Howard became a successful businessman in Atlanta. His wife, Etta A. Tidwell McCall, compiled the definitive genealogy of the McCall families of Georgia and the South.  George died at the age of 34.  Phillip, a veteran of the Spanish American War, was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.   

In Hawkinsville, Rev. McCall continued to preach the Gospel and teach the children of the community in the local high school.  The McCalls moved back to present day Bleckley County in 1880.  Janie Warren Daniell McCall died in Cochran on June 10, 1881.  Her body was taken to Savannah for burial in Laurel Grove Cemetery.  

In 1884, Rev. McCall accepted a position as President of Monroe Female College near Forsyth, Georgia.  Despite his unequaled ability as a minister and his efficient educational skills, once again McCall’s health forced him to cut down on  his activities.  After one year, Rev. McCall and his three sons moved to Dalton, Georgia, where he worked with his brother, Rev. William C. McCall in the Joseph E. Brown University.    Soon after his arrival in Dalton, Rev. Moses McCall preached his final sermon in Cave Springs, Georgia.  The cold Spring air and strain proved too much.  He contracted a fever and died a week later on May 9, 1985.   He was buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery beside his wife.

Rev. Moses McCall was eulogized as “one of Georgia’s most consecrated and efficient ministers.”  In his memorial sermon, the Rev. George A. Lofton summarized the life and character of Rev. McCall by saying: “ His mind is strong, original and active; his style is analytical, clear and pointed; his manner, impassioned and forcible.  He fell at his post. He died with the harness on.  Like the Spartan soldier, he never left his shield upon the field of battle, but bore it to his eternal home.”

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