The General’s Right Hand Man
Prior to the Civil War there were few black Baptist preachers in the North or the South. But it is a thrill to read of the exploits of those few that existed. “Uncle” Harry Cowan was a slave to Thomas L. Cowan. On one occasion Mr. Cowan was present for a funeral where his servant was to preach, and he was shocked at Uncle Harry’s grasp of the Scripture. This resulted in the master granting “privilege papers” allowing Uncle Harry to preach, marry, and baptize any one who makes a profession of Faith.” In time Uncle Harry’s success caused his master to extend this privilege of preaching wherever his slave had “protection.” The blessing of God was attendant upon this choice servant of the Lord, and literally thousands of both races heard him gladly. His ministry extended from before the Civil War, during that awful conflict, and following it as well. In fact, during the Civil War, Uncle Harry served as Confederate General Joseph Johnston’s body servant. He preached every night during the war, with the exception of May 2, 1863, when General Stonewall Jackson fell in battle. He served General Johnston faithfully until the General’s surrender on April 26, 1865
His young widow continued their faithful ministry
December 19, 1902 – Marilla Ingalls was buried at Thongze, Burma where she had given over fifty years of fruitful, loving ministry. Marilla was the second wife of Rev. Lovell Ingalls whose first wife died as they served in Burma and went with him as he returned to Burma to face the hostile conditions of that country as well as the disappointments of lack of support from the churches at home. Because of the separation of the churches of the North and South over the slavery issue, finances were scarce, thus affecting the ministry in Burma. Lovell Ingalls sent a letter to his mission, “Tell the churches that the missionaries cannot endure what they put upon them. We must come, and build houses and chapels without funds, and beg money, and the churches at home, and every member, and every preacher of the gospel are as much bound to give the gospel to every nation as we are. And God will hold them responsible in that great day.” After 19 years of ministry, Ingalls died at sea between Calcutta and Rangoon. His young widow continued their faithful ministry for forty-six more years. She had returned to the small jungle village of Thongze after returning to America to bring her husband’s daughter home for education. There she began the work of her life. Over one hundred Buddhist priests, the most difficult class in Burma to reach, became the humble followers of the despised Jesus. To the sick and suffering, she has been a doctor and a nurse; to the wronged and oppressed, both lawyer and judge; to pastor and preacher, the faithful theological professor. She left a strong native church, a Christian school, and Christian homes from which earnest pastors and preachers, evangelists and teachers, went out and spread the good tidings of salvation.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 529-31.