Miller Bledsoe

Was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, October 7, 1761. At the age of fifteen, he entered the service of his country under Captain Ambrose Dudley, in Orange county, who was himself a minister of the Baptist persuasion, who yet felt it his duty, in those perilous times, to give the strongest evidence of his love to his country. Captain Dudley's company belonged to the Second Virginia Regiment. After remaining in Virginia some time, his company marched to Valley Forge, in 1788.

Mr. Bledsoe was detached with others, under Colonel Lee, to capture a certain strong post of the enemy's called the Hook. Just before the troops reached the fort, an hour before day, Lee harangued them and said he wanted no cowards. Seventeen stepped out of the ranks--the balance, with unloaded guns, made their attack. A soldier in his shirt was in the act of putting his match to a cannon, pointed at the invading column, when Colonel Lee (who was foremost in the charge,) transfixed him with his sword. After a few minutes' work with the bayonet, the fort was surrendered. In searching for the enemy in the dark, Mr. Bledsoe was shot at so close as to be burned by the powder, and was severely wounded by a bayonet. He was at the battle at Camden, and was in North Carolina also, near enough to Guilford, to hear the report of the cannon in that battle. In the South, Mr. Bledsoe had command of a company. After a time, he returned with his company to Henry county, where they had enlisted, and went thence himself and joined the army near Yorktown.

He had made many promises, during the war, if the Lord would spare his life, he would serve him; but these were short-lived promises. In 1788 he obtained a hope, and joined the church in Orange county, called North Fork, and was baptized by Aaron Bledsoe, a relative of his. He soon began to preach, and was ordained about 1792, by George Morris, Aaron Bledsoe and John Waller. In February, 1793, he emigrated to Oglethorpe county, Georgia. The first church of which he had charge was Salem, then numbering about seventeen members. He was pastor also of Freeman's creek, Big creek, Baird's meeting-house and Scull shoals. He and Silas Mercer were instrumental in gathering Big creek, which was first called Liberty. They had preached some time at Major Waters' dwelling house. There had been considerable excitement in all his churches the year he first attended the Association, (Georgia,) and a report went before him that he was an Arminian. But nothing could be further from the truth; for though a great revivalist, he was a follower of John Gill. Indeed, he pushed his Calvinistic ideas so far as to render him timid and cautious about joining with his brethren in the Conventions and missionary operations of the day. He was a man greatly favored of the Lord. He numbered the baptisms he performed until they reached twelve hundred, and then desisted, lest he should sin after the manner of David, in numbering the children of Israel. As this occurred long before his ministry closed, it would be interesting to know how many he did baptize. He was remarkably careful about experiences. Such relations as pass frequently with the churches in these days would have found no favor in his eyes.

He died at his son-in-law's, in Oglethorpe county, about the year 1841. The last five years of his life were full of suffering, but he said he had nothing to change in the main truths he had preached, and was ready to depart in the full assurance of hope. He had a great desire to see some of his descendants enter the ministry. The year before he died, Rev. Sylvanus Landrum, now (1874,) pastor at Memphis, began to hold prayer-meetings and deliver exhortations. The old preacher insisted that an appointment should be made at the place of his residence, and that the youthful exhorter should preach in his presence. The meeting was accordingly held. At its close, the grand-father was raised up in his bed, and exhorted his son in the gospel in a manner which will not likely ever be forgotten; and, having placed his trembling hands upon him, prayed. He then expressed himself, Simeon like, ready to depart in peace.

That prayer has been answered, for the grand-son is one of the most useful ministers in the South--a worthy descendant of such a sire.

Georgia Baptists:
Historical and Biographical
by J. H. Campbell
J. W. Burke & Company
Page 193

Contributed by Jeanne Arguelles