From "Makers of Sewanne" by Noultrie Guerry
The Polks were soldiers by tradition and profession. Robert Pollock, the Scot, served under Cromwell before moving to Maryland in 1689. He shortened his name to Polk. One of his descendents was President James K. Polk. A grandson,
Colonel Thomas Polk, moved to Mecklenburg County, North Carolina and was the leading spirit in the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence on May 20, 1795.
His son, William Polk, was a major in the Continental Army at the age of 18. William Polk was the father, by a second marriage, of Leonidas Polk. His father secured for him the appointment to West Point in 1823. He was the roommate of Albert Sidney Johnson, who wrote of him, "At West Point, he was a boy of fine presence, fine form, graceful bearing, ready for anything, generous, consistent."
The Polks, although leading and most respected citizens, were not church members or religious---unless a sense of honor be called religion. Leonidas shared in the prevalent indifference.
Leonidas found a tract which had been placed in the bar‑
racks. Something in it appealed to his strong sense of duty and convinced his skeptical mind. He called upon the Chaplain and after a long conversation, he decided to be baptized. Certain questions arose---should he kneel in Chapel and when? "Better begin at once," answered the Chaplain.
The next morning, there was in that Chapel a sight not supposed to be possible---a single kneeling cadet! And he joined in the general congessional aloud! The Chaplain was told repeatedly by officers and men that no one in the whole corps could have been chosen whose example would have had such effect on his comrades.
After forty days preparation Polk was baptized in the presence of the entire cadet corps and the faculty. Dr. McIlvaine, Chaplain, spoke these words to the cadet.
"Pray your Master and Savior to take you out of the
world rather than allow you to bring reproach on the
cause you have now professed."
"Amen," said Polk in a voice not soon forgotten.
Cadets and faculty, asking Polk to introduce them, came in such numbers to the Chaplain, that he was kept busy holding