On July 20, 1863 The Reverend Doctor Isaac W. K. Handy, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Portsmouth, Virginia, was arrested without any claim of Habeas Corpus and imprisoned in Fort Delaware. His apparent crime was having “uttered language disloyal to the government.” He was incarcerated as a ‘political prisoner’, joining more than 6000 Confederate soldiers on Pea Patch Island in the Delaware River. Dr. Handy would spend 15 torturous months there, carefully recording in his journal a remarkable story of faith, perseverance, death, and an amazing spiritual awakening. His journal was published in 1872 titled United States Bonds or Duress By Federal Authority. In his journal, which he kept carefully hidden, were recorded the minutiae of prison life and his observations and opinions concerning a wide variety of subjects. Throughout his ordeal Dr. Handy recorded the lives of men well-educated and ignorant, refined and pious, course and wicked, and “many clever fellows.” Though surrounded by agonizing deaths, deplorable food, absolute confinement, an abundance of human vice and an arbitrary camp commandant, Dr. Handy never lost his determined belief in the sovereignty of God. Though his captors controlled every aspect of his life he never gave up his freedom to preach the Gospel and witness for Christ. This truly rare reminiscence of the Civil War should take a prominent place among the literature of war, church history, and revival.
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