GOD & TEXAS: Saved by the Bible
“I am sure that if the mothers of various nations could meet, there would be no more wars.” These words from novelist E.M. Forster ring true today. As soldiers deploy for war, they often leave behind weeping mothers who feel a mordant mixture of patriotic pride and profound sorrow.
These were the feelings of Margaret Lea Houston, wife of the former Governor of Texas Sam Houston, when her son Sam, Jr. departed to fight in the Civil War. After seeking direction from God in prayer, she obtained a Bible and placed these words in it, “Sam Houston, Jr., from his Mother, March 6, 1862.” Sam Houston, Sr, then took the Bible to their eldest son and sent him off to war.
A few years earlier, when Sam Houston, Sr. was a United States senator, the issue of free speech was brought before the Senate. The country was grappling with the concern of slavery, and many American clergymen were speaking against it. Pro-slavery U.S. Senator Stephen Douglas said that these ministers “ought to be rebuked, and required to confine themselves to their vocation.”
But Sam Houston spoke against the proposed censorship and gave an impassioned speech in favor of the rights of preachers to speak freely. He concluded his thoughts by saying, “[Ministers] have the right to think it is morally wrong, politically wrong, civilly wrong, and socially wrong and if they denounce a measure in advance, it is what they have a right to do.”
After the first day of the Battle of Shiloh (April 6, 1862), Sam Jr. joined his surviving Confederate soldiers around the fire. He reached into his breast pocket to read the scriptures. That’s when he noticed that a bullet had entered the Bible and stopped at the 70th Psalm, thus saving his life. Psalm 70:5 KJV says, “O God: thou art my help and my deliverer.”
The next day, Sam, Jr. suffered another gunshot and lay critically wounded on the battlefield. A surgeon in the advancing Union army found Sam and pronounced him untreatable, leaving him to die. But later, a chaplain found young Sam and discovered the Bible with a bullet in it, and was stunned to read Margaret’s inscription.
Recognizing the name Sam Houston, the chaplain remembered the eloquent senator from Texas who had defended his rights to free speech. He begged the surgeon to try to save the younger Houston, and he did. After lengthy convalescence in Chicago, Sam, Jr. returned home to share his miraculous story.
The well-worn Bible with the bullet inside remains on display in the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in Huntsville, Texas. It stands as a testament to a praying mother who sought wisdom from God. With tears streaming down her face, she prepared Divine armor that would protect her dear son (Ephesians 6:10-17).
May the Lord protect our valiant service personnel, and console those who wait at home.