Organized in a Presbyterian Church Basement
by Rev. David T Myers
After a stirring sermon to the some 250 members of Second United Presbyterian Church of Allegheny, Pennsylvania by the pastor, Rev. John Barr Clark, he challenged the male members to rise to the challenge of preserving the Union by returning on Monday night to the church basement. They did and the 123rd Pennsylvania regiment was organized for nine months of service in the Civil War. The pastor became the Colonel of the regiment.
John Barr Clark was born in Ohio on October 9, 1827. After suitable training by Christian parents, he attended Franklin College at New Athens, Ohio, graduating in 1848. In the fall of the same year, he entered the Associate Theological Seminary to train for the Lord’s work. Graduating in 1851, he was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Muskingum and sent at a missionary to Detroit, Michigan! Laboring as an evangelist, he organized a church there with three hundred members. Leaving it, he went to the Presbyterian Church of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, where he also had a successful pastorate. Released by his own request after ministering for several years, he became the pastor of the Second United Presbyterian congregation of Allegheny, Pennsylvania, where he labored as an under shepherd until his death in 1872.
Responding to the call of President Lincoln for nine-month regiments, he and the male members of his church entered the Union Army for this short duration. However, the brief time in the Union Army included the battles of Civil War battles of Antietam, Frederickburg, and Chancellorsville! All three were Union defeats at the hands of the Confederates.
In the second battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, the One Hundred and Twenty Third Pennsylvania Regiment made a charge upon the Confederate lines which was costly in dead and wounded soldiers. Fighting in Chancellorsville, Virginia, their third battle, their time of enlistment ended, but they stayed on in the Union lines to provide strength to yet another battle. They ended their nine month service on this day, August 10, 1862.
Turning to Pittsburgh to great fanfare, the men of the regiment either re-enlisted under other regiments or retired back to their professions and families. John Barr Clark died on January 13, 1872, and is buried near Cadiz, Ohio.
Words to Live By:
Talk about serving our Lord in church and state! Many a Presbyterian pastor has done the same, ministering to civilian families and military families. John Barr Clark had a love for souls and won many to the Savior. He ministered effectively to Christian families as well. Pray much for your pastor/teacher to be effective in service with the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. In fact, contact him to inquire how you might be praying for him! Tell him that this post in Presbyterian history encouraged you to do just that. Then be faithful in prayer weekly for him, his family, and the greater congregation.