Seventh-day Adventists, just moving into church organization, were, as the War Between the States opened, forced to find their way in a very difficult and sensitive area. They had no guidelines to follow. While the Ten Commandments prohibited the taking of life and the desecration of the seventh-day Sabbath, the history of God's people of old under the theocracy was not a paradigm. But God did not leave His remnant people to flounder. They prayed and studied, and when God gave counsel through His messenger, Ellen White, they listened.

Even before the first shots of the Civil War were fired, Ellen had been given a view of the coming conflict and its ferocity. The visions given at Parkville, Michigan; Roosevelt, New York; and Battle Creek, Michigan, put Adventists in the unique position of knowing, first, of the coming war and its long duration, and then, its philosophy, with the assurance that God had a controlling hand in the affairs of the nation.

Ellen said, "I saw that both the South and the North were being punished."

God is punishing the North, that they have so long suffered the accursed sin of slavery to exist; for in the sight of heaven it is a sin of the darkest dye. God is not with the South, and He will punish them dreadfully in the end (1T, p. 359).

She contrasted the guidance God would give with that of the great adversary, Satan himself:

The great leading rebel general, Satan, is acquainted with the transactions of this war, and he directs his angels to assume the form of dead generals, to imitate their manners, and exhibit their peculiar traits of character. The leaders in the army really believe that the spirits of their friends, and of dead warriors, the fathers of the Revolutionary War, are guiding them (ibid., p. 364).