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Civil War Chaplains
Chaplain A. M. Stewart portrayed by James Barker
Chaplain A. M. Stewart portrayed by James Barker
Civil War Chaplains

1.There was an estimated 3000 Chaplains appointed to the
Union forces. The names of slightly over 2300 of these
Chaplains are known to us.

2.The largest number of Chaplains serving at any one time
was 1079 on active duty.

3.There were 930 regimental Chaplains, 117 hospital Chaplains, and 32 post Chaplains.

4.Sixty-six Chaplains died in the service of their country.

5.In the Confederate Army somewhere between 600 and 1000 served as Chaplains.

6.We know that 25 Confederate Chaplains died in the war.

7.A Chaplain had to be a regularly ordained minister of a Christian denomination and received the pay and allowances of a captain of cavalry.

8.Chaplains in the volunteer regiments varied widely, and many served without commissions. Most states provided for commissioning by the Governor.

9.Considerable improvement in the organization of the Chaplaincy resulted from an act approved on 9 April 1864. In it the “rank of Chaplain, without command, in the regular and volunteer service of the United States” was recognized. Up to that time Chaplains had been customarily treated as captains.

10.Uniform for Chaplains of the army will be a plain black frock coat, with standing collar, and one row of nine brass buttons; plain black pantaloons, black felt hat or army forage cap, without ornament.

11.The Civil War for the first time witnessed a large number of Roman Catholic Chaplains in the field.

12.The Civil War was the advent of the first Jewish Chaplains, and the first Black and Indian Chaplains.

13.Three Chaplains won the nation’s highest award in the Civil War – the Congressional Medal of Honor. Chaplain John M. Whitehead of the 15th Indians Infantry won it for carrying wounded to the rear under very heavy fire at Stone River, Tennessee, in 1862. Chaplain Francis O. Hall gained his at Salem Heights, Virginia, in 1863, while serving as regimental Chaplain to the 16th New York Infantry. The third Medal of Honor was won by Chaplain Milton L. Haney of the 55th Illinois Infantry during fierce fighting near Atlanta in 1864. According to his citation, “voluntarily carried a musket in the ranks of his regiment and rendered heroic service in retaking Federal works which had been captured by the enemy.”

14.Some 97 Union clergymen served in a combat role prior to their appointment as Chaplains.

15.A number of Chaplains changed to line officers.

16.On 17 July 1862, the law was changed by Congress, thereby permitting Jewish clergymen to become military Chaplains.

17.By the end of the war there were 158 black regiments in the Union Army. Twelve of the regiments had black Chaplains.

18.The first black Chaplain is considered to be the Reverend Henry McNeal Turner, a pastor from Baltimore, Maryland.

19.Another milestone in the war was the service of Unaguskie, the son of a Cherokee Chief and a Christian, who was the Chaplain of the Cherokee Battalion raised in North Carolina by the Confederate Army.

20.Another milestone was the election of Mrs. Ella E. Gibson Hobart as the Chaplain of the 1st Wisconsin Regiment of Heavy Artillery. She served in this position for a number of months in 1864, until Secretary of War Stanton refused to recognize her status because of her sex.

21.Chaplains’ duties in the Civil War encompassed many areas. Most important were the worship services they conducted in tents, outdoors and around campfires. Catholic and Protestant Chaplains shared duties. The themes of their sermons were either patriotism to the cause, or admonitions against “evil” behavior (swearing, gambling, drunkenness and so forth). Additional duties included evening prayer meetings, prayers at dress parades and officiating at weddings, baptisms, funerals and burials. They performed pastoral functions by counseling, providing guidance and comforting the sick and wounded. They formed temperance societies and opened informal schools to teach illiterate soldiers to read and write. Among other chores assigned to Chaplains were those of postmaster, writer of letters for wounded and dying soldiers, writer of letters telling of a soldier’s death, banker, ambulance driver, defense counselors and army recruiters.

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