John Vassar distributed tracts for the American Tract Society among Union troops. As his biography relates, "Uncle John was fifty years old or more, but he kept up with the best. Not only kept up, but often would shoulder for a mile or two the gun or knapsack of some poor fellow ready to give out.… After the fight [at Gettysburg] was over, he became separated in some way from our troops, and was captured by Stuart’s cavalry.


"When brought into the presence of the general and questioned as a suspected spy, he instantly dissipated the suspicions of the officers by his frank and fearless words for the Master. ‘I am working as a colporteur of the American Tract Society, to try and save the souls of the dear boys that fall around me daily. General, do you love Jesus?’

"The General fenced the question with, ‘I know that good old Society, and have no fear of its emissaries.’

" ‘But, my dear general, do you love Jesus?’

"The puzzled officer was relieved by the suggestion of those who had arrested Uncle John, and who were already restive under his close questionings. ‘General,’ said they, ‘take the man’s promise that he will not tell of our whereabouts for twenty-four hours, and let us see him out of our lines, or we will have a prayer-meeting from here to Richmond.’

“And so it was decided. He made his way back into the Union lines, and was once more among friends.”

Perry Brown

American Tract Society

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