Rachel Caldwell: A Firm Faith in God’s Provision and Protection
by David T Myers
In your mind’s eye, consider the scene. The proud Presbyterian pastor and parents, Alexander Craighead and his wife, are introducing their old friend, the Rev David Caldwell, to theit third child, a daughter, born to their household. Rev. Caldwell takes the new born infant into his arms to cradle this precious covenant child of God. Fast forward twenty plus years! The Rev. David Caldwell, Presbyterian Pastor to two Presbyterian congregations, and educator at his Log College, in North Carolina, at age 41 takes Rachel Craighead Caldwell, age 24, into his home as his wife!
Rachel Caldwell had already experienced much already in her young years in the American Colonies. She had the experience of fleeing often out the back door of her home as the native Americans were bringing their tomahawks into the front door. It became so dangerous that her parents moved south to safer areas of the country, namely North Carolina.
The influence she had in both the pastoral ministry of her husband with two Presbyterian churches (which still exist today!), to say nothing of the example to the Log College students in their celebrated classical school , was truly one with a firm belief in God’s protection and provision.
Remember this was the era of the Revolutionary War. From both pulpit and pew, Pastor Caldwell and his members went forth to oppose the British invasion of their colony. Rev. Caldwell had placed upon him a bounty by the British that two hundred pounds could be collected in delivering him to the invading British army. That left his wife, and all the other women of the Revolution at the mercy of the advancing enemy troops. On March 15th, parts of the British army encamped at David Caldwell’s plantation.
It was said that Rachel Caldwell immediately retired from the enemy at the front door into the house to warn two visiting neighbors to escape out of the back door to their homes. The British troops took possession of the home, and directed Rachel and her children to live in the smoke house, where she and her family existed on a few dried apples and peaches. Some reports tell us a British physician kindly intervened to help her, giving her a bed, some provisions, and cooking utensils. When the occupation was over, the whole plantation was given over to destruction, with many valuable books, sermons, and even the family Bible destroyed.
During the ensuing battle, the women of the two Presbyterian congregation met to earnestly pray for victory. After the battle, which the British won but as a high cost of dead and wounded, godly women went to the battlefield, led by Rachel Caldwell, to search for their loved ones, administer comfort to the wounded, and help bury the dead. It must have been a tragic experience.
After the battle, and the War of Independence, the ministry of the Caldwell’s continued in both churches and Log College. It was said Rachel’s ministry was so effective that“Dr Caldwell makes the scholars while Mrs Caldwell makes the Preachers!” This was in reference to her example of piety and help to dispose student’s minds to religious impressions.
David Caldwell would live to one hundred years and going to the Lord in 1824. Rachel Caldwell would join him a year later, dying on June 3, 1825. Her testimony continues to this day in that there is a Chapter of the American Revolution in Greensboro, North Carolina, called the Rachel Caldwell Chapter.
Words to Live By: On the web page of that Rachel Caldwell American Revolution chapter in Greensboro, North Carolina, it reads, “Rachel Caldwell was highly intelligent, well educated, prudent, kind, and respected and trustworthy. She was a woman of faith in Jesus Christ. She believed everything God said in the Bible, and she put her knowledge of it in her work through her prayers and actions.” What a wonderful testimony and worthy of imitation for our female subscribers of This Day in Presbyterian History.