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Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Fighting For The Lord - Manningtree Corps No 395 Year One. Edited by Major Mike Farrow

Manningtree is a small 'town' in north Essex, and is the birth place of Matthew Hopkin; Oliver Cromwell's Witchfinder General, and is mentioned in William Shakespeare's Henry IV part one "That roasted Manningtree Ox with a pudding in his belly". It also claims to be the smallest town in Britain, and yet The Salvation Army came to this small place in the year 1883. Rose Woolard wrote in 'The Story Of My Life' — she may have been the first person to become an officer from Manningtree entering the work in 1886 — 'In the early part of the year 1883 our village and other villages around were aroused by seeing large placards announcing that on the following Saturday (24th February 1883) war was declared in the town of Manningtree, Essex, by a contingent of The Salvation Army, who would open fire in that part of the enemies dominion, to do battle with the foe and win his agents to God. The reader can hardly imagine what this announcement in our quiet village meant. Everybody found everybody else wondering, and asking who these Salvationists could be, and what they were like, etc. Some said, "Oh, they are a set of enthusiasts; a new kind of religious people made up of the lowest class, and not fit to listen!" All of which I believed, as thousands of others have done. When the day came for the opening of this new religious attack in the town of Manningtree, I kept as far away as possible. However there were many persons who went, and went over and over again'

The Essex Standard, West Suffolk Gazette, and Eastern Counties Advertiser 3rd. March 1883, carries this report from its local correspondent in Manningtree; The Salvation Army — General Booth having hired the Corn Exchange for twelve months, the campaign was opened on Saturday night by an auxiliary of Salvationists from Colchester and Harwich. During the week the town and neighbourhood was placarded with flaring posters announcing the coming of the Army to storm the citadel of sin on the night referred to, and about 7pm, the Army, headed by Major Blandy, Capt Ada Smith, Lieut Minnie Bass, &c, and seven musicians, formed into procession and marched down the main street singing hymns to the strains of popular tunes, and followed by hundreds of the rougher element of the town and adjoining villages, principally boys and girls who were highly pleased with novelty. As the procession was returning to the Exchange, Mr G. Bloom, installed for the nonce, town crier, appeared at the four crossings ringing a big bell and exclaiming, "I hereby give notice that we have two chapels and one Church, so that the services of the Salvation Army are not required" "God save the Queen" which called forth much laughter and cheering from the crowd. The Exchange was soon filled to overflowing, although a penny admission was expected. The performers having seated themselves on the platform one of the Army's characteristic services was held'

The War Cry 10th March 1883 gives a rather different account; THE GRAND OPENING OF MANNINGTREE by MAJOR BLANDY. What the people think of us — A publican Advertisers The Salvation Army by means of the Town-crier. "So The Salvation Army is coming to our quiet little town, is it, to drive the people mad? We shall have no peace now" "Amen! " I said, when I heard this, as group after group stood in different parts of the town, all earnestly discussing the reasons for our coming to this place. One said, "We don't want them" "But" said another, "they have done a lot of good at Colchester and Harwich and surely there is room for improvement here" "But WE HAVE PLENTY OF RELIGION now, and these people when they come into a place, I hear the folks say they can't help GIVING UP THE PLACE". One said, "We don't want them" "But" said another, "they have done a lot of good at Colchester and Harwich and surely there is room for improvement here" "But WE HAVE PLENTY OF RELIGION now, and these people when they come into a place, I hear the folks say they can't help GIVING UP THE BEER and "bacca" When I heard this I shouted "Hallelujah" A poor publican thought he could make all the people think as he thought; so he paid a town-crier to go round and cry "Oh, yes! Oh, yes! This is to give notice that we have two chapels and one church here, and WE DON'T WANT THE SALVATION ARMY in Manningtree!"

At the first meeting on Saturday night, when we came in after a splendid march with drum and brass band, there were ONLY THREE PEOPLE inside; and the devil laughed and said, "There you see no one will go" But we just commenced our work, confident in God, and a few came in; and before we closed the hall was half full, and God came down upon us. We sang, played, talked, and prayed until some laughed, and some cried, but all were satisfied that we were not what they had heard we were, and one after another said when going out, "These are HAPPY FOLKS; if this is what religion does it is worth having; " and Hallelujah! the news spread like wildfire.

So the people came out of their houses by hundreds to see us as we went marched through the streets the next day. In the morning the place was nearly full, and in the afternoon quite full. At night packed; hundreds could not get in. Thirteen at the feet of Jesus. On Monday night place packed again, and ten more seeking pardon of their sins. The Captain and Lieutenant are in good spirits, and the devil is in a rage"

The War Cry 10th March 1883 has this report from Captain Ada Smith; 'God is working in a most wonderful manner in this town. The devil is being defeated. Since the opening last Saturday week 120 have Professed to find Jesus as a sin-pardoning Saviour, some of them the worst characters in the town. Some men have come in to upset the meetings, and God's spirit has taken hold of them, and they have been the first to volunteer for Jesus. Yesterday they were sitting on the platform with bright happy faces testifying of what God had done for them.

God is convicting men and women of their sins all over the town. The other afternoon when visiting a young man came running up to us IN THE STREET, and said, "Oh, I can't find peace" and standing in the middle of the road, we pointed him to Jesus the peace-giver. At night he was rejoicing in God as his Saviour. We have taken hold of God to save the whole town, and trusting in Him we are confident of victory".

The War Cry 21st March 1883 from Captain Ada Smith; 'God has been giving us rich, wonderful blessings here since the opening. We have taken the names of 156 who have come to the penitent form and professed to have given themselves to Jesus, some of them the very worst characters in the town-men who have been swearers, drunkards, wife-beaters — in fact, everything that was bad; and it is beautiful to see them sitting on the platform looking so clean and happy. God is taking hold of the whole town. Scores of people who have not yielded are convicted of sin, and the railway men who have been brought to our meetings say that they are AFRAID TO SWEAR lest they go to hell.

Some of the converts walk miles to the meetings. Yesterday morning at Knee-drill we had about eighty. Some walked all through the snow for four miles to be there and back again for breakfast. God gives us souls too in visiting; the people are so ready to accept Jesus. They tell us no-one ever told them of the Saviour before. The penitents are so real. They just see their sins in all their blackness, and their cry is; "I am such a sinner, do you think He will save me?" The people are so ready to accept Jesus. They tell us no-one ever told them of the Saviour before. The penitents are so real. They just see their sins in all their blackness, and their cry is; "I am such a sinner, do you think He will save me?" We intend beginning the village work directly the weather breaks, but the roads have been quite blocked with snow. At first the Lieutenant and I will go in charge by turns; but we have some splendid fellows coming along who will make good Sergeants'.

It appears that the work grew rapidly Captain Ada Smith's War Cry report 7th April 1883 reads; `Night after night sinners are coming to the cross and finding the Saviour, who is able and willing to take all their sins away. On Good Friday the Harwich Corps, with their Captain and Lieutenant were with us.

Four hundred sat down to tea in the afternoon, after which we had a great Salvation Meeting. The place was packed, and hundreds were turned away. Sinners saved at every meeting. At Sunday Knee-drill we began with four souls at the Master's feet. One had come seventeen miles to get Salvation. We closed the day with shouts of Hallelujahs for what God had done for us. Nineteen more having, farewelled to sin and the devil, making forty one for the week'

Secretary Pittock, The War Cry 28th April 1883 reported: `God is blessing us in a wonderful manner. On Sunday there were about eighty five soldiers at Knee-drill. God was in our midst. At ten o'clock we met for a march to Mistley, and began firing away in our favourite position in the midst of six public houses. We were back again at our hall by eleven, and had a good time inside. In the afternoon many testified to the power of Jesus to save sinners. The hall was crowded at night and many could not get in. We all felt the power of God; conviction laid hold of the people, and at the invitation of the Captain fifteen volunteered for Jesus. We were greatly blessed at the Holiness Meeting on Friday evening; four came out for cleansing. A brother whose countenance was beaming with joy, said he came six miles to obtain the blessing, and, praise the Lord, he got it. We are thankful to God for what He is doing for us here, and we mean to fight on in His name. The publicans do not like us, because they are losing some of their best customers. By the help of God we are determined to win the town and surrounding villages for Christ'

It seems that they meant it for Sister F. Sorrel reporting in The War Cry 16th May 1883 writes: `On Wednesday our Captain, with about thirty soldiers made an attack on the village of BRADFIELD. As we marched and sang through the place the people came out of their houses and followed us to the field of battle, where were mounted a wagon drawn inside a thatched shed. After some singing and praying we had sharp shooting by eighteen or twenty of the Soldiers upon the enemy who numbered about 300. The fire soon began to take effect upon those who were on the other side of the hedge where the devil was busy among some young men. While they fried to hinder us by shouting; we prayed that they might be on the right side of the hedge at last. Despite the devil's efforts we had a good time, and many of our hearers were wounded. An invitation was given for any who was seeking Salvation to get in the wagon, and three young people accepted the invitation and believing, kneeling in the wagon found Jesus'.

It would appear to have been a busy life in The Salvation Army's first year in Manningtree. The War Cry May 26th 1883 carries this report from Captain Ada Smith. 'On Whit-Sunday, we had a glorious time commencing at 7 o'clock with ninety five soldiers at Knee-drill. Cadet Percy and Jacks the singer of Harwich, was with us. Our Holiness Meeting was time of great power, three coming out for pardon. The Hall was packed in the afternoon and evening, some of the country people coming miles to hear about Harwich who was with us. Our Holiness Meeting was time of great power, three coming out for pardon. The Hall was packed in the afternoon and evening, some of the country people coming miles to hear about Jesus who is able and willing to save them from their sins. Six young men came from Raydon, a village about eight miles off, to obtain this great Salvation, and glory to God, they got it to the joy of their hearts, making a total of eleven souls for the day. We had meetings all day on Whit-Monday. It was indeed cheering to all God's people to see the happy smiling faces of the soldiers and to hear their testimony of the power of Jesus to save sinners. One brother said he was three sheets in the wind last Whit- Monday, but, thank the Lord, he is saved now, and never spent such a happy holiday before. We finished with three souls in the Fountain, and went home rejoicing and praising the Lord for what He is doing for us here'.

However not all was plain sailing, for Rose Woolard in 'The Story of my Life' records, 'in Manningtree the "skeleton" forces, over two hundred strong, met on special occasions to oppose our open-air work, and many blows were aimed at the Salvationists as they passed through the streets... ' The War Cry 25th August 1883 reports, 'Attacking our Colours with a Scythe' `Lieutenant Alice Hodges writes — "This week has been a blessed week. On Monday we had a tea, and at night a Hosanna Meeting. We can truly say that the Lord has been with us. While we were out in the Open Air one man tried to cut the colours with his scythe, but God gave us the victory. Though it is very rough, God is with us, and we mean to tell the perishing world how Salvation may be found. We mean victory or death at this Corps, God helping us. Please pray for us, as we need your prayers very much'.

Again, The War Cry 12th September 1883, 'This little Corps, though very young, has done wonders for their Lord, and though fighting against heavy odds, the cruelty of the roughs being such that they Think nothing of Insulting and Striking a Poor Little Woman, yet many souls have been captured from the clutches of the devil, and are to-day wearing our uniform, and fighting in the ranks of The Salvation Army to win Manningtree over to the side of right'.

The Essex Standard, West Suffolk Gazette, and Eastern Counties Advertiser for the 26th September 1883 issue, records; 'Assaulting A Salvationist At Manningtree "Charles Hawkins, a sugar boiler, was summonsed for assaulting Philip Wagstaff, a coal porter, at Manningtree, on the 18th Sept — Mr. Asher Prior appeared for the complainant, who is a "Sergeant" in the Manningtree Corps of the Salvation Army. — Defendant pleaded guilty. — It appeared from the complainants statement that on the evening in question he had been marching around the streets with one of the army processions, and they were returning to their hall, when the defendant and some other young men who were in front of them, leaned back upon the front rank of the army to impede their progress. Defendant said to the young man in the front rank, named Goodchild, and who was endeavouring to march on. "1: fyou strike me I'll knock you down" and then he suddenly went round from the front rank to the second rank, in which the complainant was struck a violent blow on the mouth, and two more violent blows on the temple. Complainant said, "If you think that will pay, serve the other side the same" and defendant then hit him another blow on the temple. As a result of the blows, complainant was led bleeding and in a fainting condition to the Hall, where he fainted away, and eventually had to be removed to a coffee-house nearby, where he remained unconscious for some time. Complainant was unable to work next day, and still felt the effects of the blows. He gave defendant no provocation, - Mr Prior said he had three witnesses, but as defendant had pleaded guilty he should not call them. — The Magistrates said as there was a cross-summons issued by defendant, they would hear that before giving their decision.

Wagstaff was then charged with assaulting Hawkins on the occasion in question. — Hawkins alleged that as he and others were walking quietly in front of the Army, Wagstaff struck him on the nose and made it bleed, and then he struck him back. Wagstaff struck the first blow. — A witness was called in support of this, but it was denied by Wagstaff and his witnesses.

Eventually the magistrates decided to dismiss the cross-summons, remitting the costs, and for the assault upon Wagstaff they fined Hawkins 5s and 13s costs.

In November 1883 there was a change of command, The War Cry 3rd November 1883 reports: EASTERN DIVISION MANNINGTREE. 'In this small town there is a band of real Death-andGlory boys. On Thursday night Major Blandy, Captain Nicol, A.D.C. and Bandmaster Appleby went to welcome the new officers, Captain Jackson and Lieutenant Parry, who have taken up the work in a proper spirit. Two hundred sat down to tea. Four hundred assembled in the evening to take part in the celebration, and although A HOWLING MOB outside, and paid agents of the devil inside endeavoured to interrupt the joy and enthusiasm of the Soldiers, it was all to no avail. God kept giving, we kept receiving, and altogether a splendid impression was made. The Soldiers were wonderfully blessed'.

It would appear that nothing else appeared in the War Cry until the first Anniversary in the town. The War Cry March 1884 reports, Manningtree's First Anniversary. Do the Salvation Army Converts Stand? No! They March Forward. 'Major Blandy, his trumpeter, Captain and Mrs Weedon, Captain Parkins and Lieutenant Bell, along with Uncle Josh, laid siege to Manningtree on Saturday, with the object of celebrating the first battle fought there. Notwithstanding twelve months real war with rough treatment in the open air, persecutions, ridicule, and almost every conceivable vice, a great and powerful work has been accomplished Three hundred have professed Salvation, amongst them being men and women who seldom attended any place of worship. Young men, who habitually frequented the public houses for amusement and pleasure, and also a considerable number who were brought up under a preached Gospel, but who were totally blind as to the regeneration of their souls. To God be all the praise. But we may ask —

Is the interest sustained? — Crowded meetings is the reply.
Is the soul saving progressing? — Five souls on Sunday. Splendid cases.
How long will it last? — Judge from the "pills" below.
Do the converts stand? — No, they march forward.

Without going into particulars, I may say to use the Major's words, "The meetings on Sunday were glorious! " Being present at the Monday's meetings, I am able to affirm the same. Of course, as usual, the paid dupes of the brewers were at work, and desperate efforts were made on the life of Major Blandy. This is no exaggerated statement. God was his Great Deliverer, however.

In the evening a great demonstration over the wonderful twelve months' victories took place. As the outcome we prescribe the following.

Pill for his Satanic Majesty to Swallow.
I. Twelve months ago could not read nor write. Served me right; I had no business to serve the devil so long. I'm saved now, and going ahead"
2. "I never scarcely crossed a church or chapel door till The Salvation Army came here. I was saved twelve months ago, and have never missed a Knee Drill"

3. "Saved twelve months ago, and better still saved now!" (A volley)
4. Twelve months yesterday since I gave God my heart"
5. "Up against that pillar (pointing) twelve months ago I surrendered to Jesus"
6. "Next week I'll be a twelve months old soldier. I'm determined to endure to the end"

Half-past Twelve!
A. M. Nicol, A.D.C. to Major Blandy'

This final report looks like a case of the Army showing its mettle. The Essex Standard, West Suffolk Gazette, and Eastern Counties Advertiser 1St March 1884 carries this report, of an incident which The War Cry may have overlooked.

THE SALVATION ARMY AT MANNINGTREE Apprehension of Major Blandy for Alleged Assault.

`During the sitting of the Bench, a man named Robert Parker of Lawford who had been fined on one or two occasions for interfering with The Salvation Army at Manningtree, appeared in court covered with blood and with severe wounds on his head, face, and hands, and applied for a summons for an assault against "Major" Blandy, the chief officer of the Salvation Army for the Eastern Counties.

Parker, who was perfectly sober, stated in reply to enquiries that he had been in court all the morning, and at the adjournment he went home to dinner, and on his way when walking in the street, a procession of the Salvation Army came up, and Major Blandy knocked him about with his cornet, inflicting the injuries the Bench now saw. The Magistrates considered the assault was a serious one, and intimated their intention to issue a warrant for Major Blandy's apprehension at once. Parker said he should prefer a summons, as he could then have his witnesses in attendance.

The Bench, however, issued a warrant, and a constable was dispatched to the Corn Exchange, where the Army where holding some anniversary meeting, and the "Major" was arrested and brought to the police court. On the charge being read over to him, the defendant pleaded not guilty. Parker said his witnesses were not in attendance, but he could have them if the magistrates would adjourn the case.

The CHAIRMAN. "I think we had had better hear what complainant has to say"

Parker being sworn, stated that he had been in the court all the morning and was going home to dinner and-was walking along the streets as the Army came through. Hw was walking in the middle of the street-he did not know whether one of the Army touched him or not; but Major Blandy said, "He's not worth talking to anymore than the dogs in the streets; whereupon he (complainant) asked him, "Ain't I worth as much as you?" Defendant then struck him with his cornet on the top of the head and cut it open, and he also cut his eye and hand.

Mr. NUNN. Had you in any way raised your hand?

Parker. No I never touched any one of them, and never raised my hand. I have been here several times and they have got their knife into me — they would like to get rid of me, but they can't. If you adjourn the case I can have plenty of witnesses.
Defendant. I should like to ask you if you did not at the cross roads (Market Cross) rush as hard as you could against the man next to me — the bandmaster?

Parker. No

The Bench then suggested that Parker's witnesses might be sent for if he named them.

Parker said he did not know them all, but he named Mr Ernest Alston, Mr Dawson, and Mr Edwards.

Defendant said it was a most aggravated affair, and he should also like an adjournment. The CHAIRMAN. A very serious offence has been committed.

Defendant. Yes, I think it ought to be thoroughly investigated here at once. This man met us and came at us twice.

Eventually the magistrates decided to adjourn the case for a week.

Defendant applied for bail, and the Magistrates agreed to accept his own recognisance in the sum of £20 and one surety of £10. Mr Joseph Pittock became surety and the defendant was liberated.

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