Dog Tags, the Confederate Bible Society and the New Testament

| July 12, 2013 | 0 Comments

Stars and stripesWhat do Yankee ‘dog tags’, the Confederate Bible Society and a lost Confederate New Testament (NT) have in common? They are all part of the Maryland Bible Society’s Historic Collection and each has its own story. While sometimes the clues are fascinating, they can be difficult to follow.

In 1862 the Confederate Bible Society (CBS), located in Augusta, GA printed 20,000 NTs for their soldiers. Other than a voluntary name or contact written inside, there was nothing required as an identifier. One such NT resides in our Collection with only a name… Edmond C. Rivers. So far we have only been able to learn of 2 Edmond Rivers. One was a black soldier who enlisted during the war. Did he pick up this Confederate NT as a war trophy? The other Edmond C. Rivers was born 1847 in the state of Alabama, dying on February 28th, 1914. The trail ends there, remaining what we call a cold case.

The Union Army gave the soldiers NTs with a preprinted card affixed onto the inside of the front cover. This card allowed the soldiers to put identifying information along with a family contact. These preprinted cards were the Civil War equivalent of Dog Tags. The NT in our collection has a faded and illegible name and contact information. Our Archivist, Glenn Johnston, has had it looked at through a variety of advanced cameras and scanners but to no avail. But there is one hope. The MD State Police Lab does have ‘CS–level’ equipment that may well do the trick. Stay tuned.

After the first 20,000 NTs were depleted, the CBS began to purchase NTs from the Maryland Bible Society. Since Maryland was a border state and MBS had a distribution network into the southern states it was the logical next step. Hence MBS is possibly the only state society to distribute bibles to both the Northern and Southern armies.

All this reminds us that both the northern and the southern soldiers were Christians of deep faith. All of these soldiers saw value in their cause and deeply believed that God was on their side. This Collection is full of stories. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.


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For over 200 years, the mission of the Maryland Bible Society (MBS) has been to see that every individual has an opportunity to own a Bible regardless of their native language or financial situation. Here in Maryland this mission has been mostly fulfilled. We now are turning our emphasis to encouraging and helping people read, understand and live out the truths and principles God has given us through His Holy Scriptures. As a non-denominational ministry, MBS is uniquely positioned to offer God’s Word without note or comment to Christians from all denominational backgrounds. This position allows us to work with all local Christian churches, serving and assisting them as they follow God’s lead. MBS has and will continue to establish and build partnerships that promote the distribution of the Bible, supply related sources and provide educational opportunities. Our vision is to ignite fresh passion for God’s Word to be lived out in the daily lives of people in Maryland and the world beyond. God’s Word contains truths that speak to all of the important areas of our lives: family, marriage, work, friendships, finances and parenting. It serves as the ‘road map’ for the often-overwhelming experience of life. It is a comfort, an encouragement, a teacher. It is convicting, edifying and inspiring. The Bible reveals our purpose in life. The Creator of the Universe has given us His Word to guide and direct us as we serve Him and live in the world.

As we embark on this renewed vision, our desire is to impact lives. As God leads us on this great adventure, we invite you to partner with us. Lives will be transformed as the Holy Spirit works through the Scriptures, resources and opportunities provided by MBS. Join us as we ignite fresh passion for God’s Word among individuals, ministries, local Churches, and businesses.

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