Numbers 20:11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.
Union prisoners in the Confederate POW camp were dying of thirst, and drinking from a polluted river that also was the sewage facility for the camp. Sergeant Shepherd preached from this text:
The prison covered about twelve acres, enclosed by pine logs twenty-five feet long. Sentry boxes were fifty feet apart, and the dead line ten feet from the stockade. Four acres were swamp and four acres were added during the summer, as the number of prisoners increased to 35,000 men. During August and September the deaths were 300 per day. A great religious awakening was started by Sergeant Shepherd, in the fall when the suffering was the greatest. 6,000 were converted during this revival, and religious enthusiasm ran high. When the revival was closing one night, Sergeant Shepherd preached on Faith and alluded to the Rock of Israel. Our subject and many others prayed and petitioned the Almighty for water, many perishing every day for want of it. The prayers were directly answered in the most astonishing manner, for the next morning a beautiful spring of pure, clear water appeared. It was called Providence Spring. –Porter County Genealogy original Google Books
During a heavy rainstorm on August 14, 1864, a spring suddenly gushed from this hillside. The prisoners were desperate for fresh water, and over time the event became legendary. Several men claimed to have seen lightning strike this spot just before the spring burst forth.
This damp slope, with its many natural seeps, would appear to be a likely site for a spring. Workmen may have inadvertently buried the spring’s outlet while digging the stockade trench. Whether an act of nature or divine providence, the effect of the stream was an answer to thousands of prayers.
“A spring of purest crystal water shot up into the air in a column and, falling in a fanlike spray, went babbling down the grade into the noxious brook. Looking across the dead-line, we beheld with wondering eyes and grateful hearts the fountain spring.”
John L. Maile, 8th Michigan Infantry August 15, 1864.
Photo by J. Makali Bruton, HMDB.org
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