Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Rev. Doak's Sermon & Prayer

On 25 September 1780, the massive Sycamore Shoals muster was held on the Watauga River in eastern Tennessee. The purpose of the muster was to form an army to cross the mountains, join with Col. Charles McDowell's forces in the Carolinas, and defeat the Loyalist forces commanded by British Maj. Patrick Ferguson. On 26 September 1780, after selection of the soldiers (aka "The Overmountain Men"), a sermon and prayer were delivered by Rev. Samuel Doak, the local Presbyterian minister. (Rev. Doak was also the first president of Washington College near Greeneville, Tennessee.) Here are his words:

    "My countrymen, you are about to set out on an expedition which is full of hardships and dangers, but one in which the Almighty will attend you. The Mother Country has her hands upon you, these American Colonies, and takes that for which our fathers planted their homes in the wilderness–our liberty. Taxation without representation and the quartering of soldiers in the homes of our people without their consent are evidence that the Crown of England would take from its American Subjects the last vestige of Freedom. Your brethren across the mountains are crying like Macedonia unto your help. God forbid that you shall refuse to hear and answer their call–but the call of your brethren is not all. The enemy is marching hither to destroy your own homes.
    "Brave men, you are not unacquainted with battle. Your hands have already been taught to war and your fingers to fight. You have wrested these beautiful valleys of the Holston and Watauga from the savage hand. Will you tarry now until the other enemy carries fire and sword to your very doors? No, it shall not be. Go forth then in the strength of your manhood to the aid of your brethren, the defense of your liberty and the protection of your homes. And may the God of Justice be with you and give you victory.
    "Let us pray.
    "Almighty and gracious God! Thou hast been the refuge and strength of Thy people in all ages. In time of sorest need we have learned to come to Thee–our Rock and our Fortress. Thou knowest the dangers and snares that surround us on march and in battle. Thou knowest the dangers that constantly threaten the humble, but well beloved homes which Thy servants have left behind them.
    "O, in Thine infinite mercy, save us from the cruel hand of the savage, and of Tyrant. Save the unprotected homes while fathers and husbands and sons are far away fighting for freedom and helping the oppressed. Thou, who promised to protect the Sparrow in its flight, keep ceaseless watch, by day and by night, over our loved ones. The helpless woman and little children, we commit to Thy care. Thou wilt not leave them or forsake them in times of loneliness and anxiety and terror.
    "O, God of Battle, arise in Thy might. Avenge the slaughter of Thy people. Confound those who plot for our destruction. Crown this mighty effort with victory, and smite those who exalt themselves against liberty and justice and truth. Help us as good soldiers to wield the Sword of the Lord and Gideon. Amen."