Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History


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"The Meeting was appointed some months since by the Presbytery and commenced on Friday the 2nd instant. The grove wherein the camp was pitched was near the waters of Tyger river, and being in a vale which lay between two hills gently inclining towards each other, was very suitably adapted to the purpose. The first day was taken up in encampment until two o’clock, when divine service commenced with a sermon by the Rev’d. Jno. B. Kennedy. He was succeeded by the Rev’d. William Williamson in an address explanatory of the nature and consequences of such meetings. The assembly was then dismissed. After some short time, service commenced again with a sermon by the Rev’d. James Gilleland; who was followed by the Rev’d. Robert Wilson in a very serious and solemn exhortation. Afterwards the evening was spent in singing and praying alternately. About sun-down, people was dismissed to their respective tents. By this time the countenances of all began to be shaded by the clouds of solemnity and to assume a very serious aspect. At ten o’clock two young men were lying speechless, motionless and sometimes to all appearance, except in the mere act of breathing, dead. Before day, five others were down; these I did not see. The whole night was employed in reading and commenting upon the word of God; and also in singing, praying and exhorting, scarcely had the light of the morning sun dawned on the people, ere they were engaged in what may be called family worship. The adjacent tents collected in groups, here and there, all round the whole line. The place of worship was early repaired to, by a numerous throng. Divine worship commenced at eight by one of the Methodist brethren, whom I do not now recollect. He was followed by the Rev’d. Shackleford, of the Baptist profession. Singing, praying, and exhorting, by the Presbyterian clergymen continued until two o’clock when an intermission of some minutes was granted, that the people might refresh themselves with water, &c. By this time, the audience became so numerous, that it was impossible for all to crowd near enough to hear one speaker; although, the ground rising about the stage theatrically, afforded aid to the voice. Hence, th e assembly divided, and afterwards preaching was performed at two stages. An astonishing and solemn attention in the hearers, and an animating and energetic zeal in the speakers was now everywhere prevailing. Service commenced half after two by the Rev’d Jno. Simpson at one stage, and at the other, by the Rev’d James McElhenny, who were succeeded by the Rev. Francis Cummins. After these sermons, fervent praying, &c. were continued until and through the night in which time, many were stricken and numerous were brought to the ground.

"The next morning (i.e., the Sabbath morning) a still higher, if possible, more engaged, and interesting spirit pervaded the whole grove, singing and praying echoed from every quarter until eight o’clock, when divine service commenced again at both stages before two great and crowded assemblies. The action sermons were delivered by the Rev. Robert Wilson at one stage and the Rev. William Cummins Davis at the other. I did not hear Mr. Wilson. But Mr. Davis was one of the most popular, orthodox gospel sermons that I ever heard. No sketch exhibited in words, would be adaquate to pourtray the appearence of the audience under this discourse. Imagine to your self thousands under the sense of the great possible danger, anxious to be informed in all that related to their dearest interests, in the presence of a counsellor, who, labouring with all his efforts, should be endeavouring to point out the way to security; and you may have some faint conception of this spectacle.

"Thence ensued the administration of the Lord’s Supper. To the communion sat down about four hundred persons. It was a matter of infinite satisfaction to see on this occasion the members of the Methodist and Presbyterian churches united; all owning and acknowledging the same God, the same Saviour, the same Sanctifier, and the same Heaven. We are sorry to add, that the Baptists refused to join, whether their objections were reasonably justifiable, we shall not presume to say.

"The evening exercises, although greatly interrupted by the intemperance of the weather, progressed as usual, until about dark; when there commenced one of the most sublime, awfully interesting, and glorious scenes which could possibly be exhibited on this side of eternity. The penetrating sighs and excruciating struggles of those under exercise, the grateful exultations of those brought to a sense of their guilty condition, and to a knowledge of the way to salvation, mingled with the impressions which are naturally excited by the charms of music and the solemnities of prayer on such occasions; and to all this added the nature of the scenery, the darkness of the night, and the countenances of all the spectators, speaking in terms more expressive than language, the sympathy, the hope and the fear, of their hearts; were sufficient to bow the stubborn neck of infidelity, silence the tongue of profanity, and melt the heart of cold neglect though hard as adamant.

"This scene continued through the night. Monday morning dawned big with the fate of its importance. The morning exercises were conducted as usual. About half after seven, the assembly met the ministers at the stage, and service commenced by the Rev. Moses Waddell. After which ensued, singing, exhorting and a concert of prayer. At length the business closed with an address, energetic and appropriate by the Rev. Francis Cummins. In the course of this day many were stricken, numbers of whom fell.

"I cannot say, that the parting was not one of the most moving, and affecting scenes which presented itself throughout the whole. Families, who had never seen each other, until they met on the ground would pour forth the tears of sympathy, like streams of water, many friendships were formed, and many attachments contracted, which, although the persons may never meet again will never be dissolved.

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"The multitude on this occasion far exceeded anything which had come under my observation. There were various conjectures of the numbers present; some allowed three, some seven, some four, some five, some six, some eight thousand. I have not been in the habit of seeing such multitudes together, and therefore do not look upon myself capable of reckoning any ways accurately on the subject. But I do candidly believe five thousand would not be a vague conjecture. The district of Spartanburgh where the meeting was held, contains not less than twelve thousand souls. Men of information who resided therein, said to one who might be travelling, the country would appear almost depopulated, and hesitated not in the least to say that at least two-thirds of the inhabitants were present. Now supposing only one-third to have attended from that district itself there would have been four thousand."

Text—Augusta Herald, July 28, 1802. Reprint in Cleveland’s: The Great Revival, appendix III.


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Chicago: "Spartanburgh," Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History in Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History 337–339. Original Sources, accessed June 4, 2023,

MLA: . "Spartanburgh." Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History, in Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History, pp. 337–339. Original Sources. 4 Jun. 2023.

Harvard: , 'Spartanburgh' in Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History. cited in , Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History, pp.337–339. Original Sources, retrieved 4 June 2023, from