Civil War Yorktown
Shiloh Baptist Church was started in 1863 by former slave and lay minister, John Carey; and Reverend Jeremiah Asher from Shiloh Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The church sewed the residents of Slabtown, a community established by the United States army during the Civil War for contrabands (Contraband were enslaved Americans who had ﬂed Confederate controlled areas of the South.) Today, the congregation of Shiloh Baptist Church continues to thrive and provide valuable religious support within the local community.
Chaplain Jeremiah Asher was the grandson of a slave, but was born free in Connecticut. On the eve of the Civil War, he was a prominent abolitionist and minister of Shiloh Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. When the federal government began recruiting African Americans for newly formed United States Colored Regiments, Asher wrote President Abraham Lincoln, advocating African Americans should serve as military chaplains to these units. African Americans were prohibited from serving as commissioned officers in their own regiments, which included chaplain positions. However, Lincoln eased the policy, and began allowing some African Americans to serve as regimental chaplains. Though 50 years of age, Asher, with the signed support of every white ofﬁcer in the 6th United States Colored Infantry Regiment, mustered with the unit as chaplain, in December 1863. In addition to ministering to the troops, Asher also, at Yorktown, helped form a new Shiloh Baptist Church in the local contraband community. Jeremiah Asher gave his life for his ideals, being the ﬁrst African American chaplain to die in military service. He passed away on July 27, 1865 from disease contracted while tending to ill soldiers.
Back with Hardy and Hawkins to Baptist church. Crowded. Patrolled Slabtown.
Master Sergeant Christian A. Fleetwood, 4th United States Colored Troops, Diary, March 27, 1864 Courtesy of Library of Congress
The members of Shiloh Baptist Church probably first worshiped in a simple cabin, but by 1866 were meeting in a former Confederate military barracks. Thirty tears after its founding, the congregation constructed a new edifice across the road from the Yorktown National Cemetery. When the church burned four years later, it was rebuilt and in continuous use until 1974 when a new house of worship was constructed about one mile to the west at the intersection of Route 17 and Goosley Road. In 2001, Shiloh Baptist Church reached another historical milestone when Pastor Barbara Lemon was installed as the congregation's minister, becoming the first female African American Baptist minister in the local area.
In 1866-1867, Captain James Miles Moore, of the U.S. Army Quartermaster Department,oversaw the development of the Yorktown National Cemetery. As part of the project, he directed a map of the immediate area be diagrammed. This map shows Shiloh Baptist Church's original location. Map and photo courtesy of the National Archives
James Miles Moore