[from the list of officers, and preamble and constitution of the Evangelical Tract Society, Petersburg, Va.]
The War of 1861 having called away numbers of brave men from their homes
and sanctuaries to the camp and the battle-field, to defend the sacred cause of civil
and religious liberty, and establish the independence of the Southern Confederacy,
it is the dictate of Philanthropy and Religion to minister, as much as it is possible,
to the spiritual necessities of our soldiers, deprived now of so many means of grace,
and exposed to so many temptations. The circulation of religious Tracts is an in-
strumentality eminently appropriate to this end. To employ this agency, the for-
mtion of Tract societies throughout the South becomes a necessity, in consequence
of the impracticability, and if practicable, the inexpediency, of obtaining supplies
in future, from the American Tract Society.
The christians of Petersburg, Va., of all evangelical denominations, have uni-
ted in the formation of such a Society, that through it they may lay their offerings
of Piety upon the altar of Patriotism, and lead the soldiers of the Country to be-
come the soldiers of the Cross. But not to them alone, nor to the duration of the
war only, is it designed to limit either the existence of the Society, or the charac-
ter,or the distribution, of its publications. But the welfare of all classes in the
community is contemplated, and the design is that it shall occupy as large a sphere
of usefulness, and for as long a term of years, as God by His Spirit and His
Providence shall be pleased to grant.
The American Tract Society, from whom the citizens of Petersburg, found it neither practical or expedient to obtain literature is still in existence today as a nonprofit, nonsectarian but evangelical organization founded on May 11, 1825 in New York City for the purpose of publishing and disseminating Christian literature.
The Evangelical Tract Society published over 100 short pamphlets which were distributed throughout the Confederate armies during the course of the war. The popular leaflets with titles like Words of Warning, A mother's parting words to her soldier boy, and The Way to Zion were popular with the soldiers and were used by chaplains in their ongoing efforts to convert the troops.