Caring for soldiers and freedmen

Presbyterian chaplains

"I therefore offer myself as a volunteer to the service of my country and my God, in the capacity of Chaplain to the troops under your command."

So wrote Alexander M. Stewart (1814-1875), pastor of the Second Reformed Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, in 1861, exemplifying the reaction of many Presbyterian clergy to the crisis of the Civil War. Chaplains to both Union and Confederate soldiers provided spiritual support and comfort by serving within various divisions of the military as well as in field hospitals. They held prayer meetings, religious services, Bible classes, and performed last rites. On the front lines, chaplains provided spiritual and emotional counseling and aid for the wounded, and in field hospitals they often assisted wounded soldiers with letter-writing to family and friends in addition to their religious duties.

With no official policies governing the duties and responsibilities of chaplains, Union chaplains deferred to William Young Brown's The Army Chaplain, while Confederate chaplains relied on James O. Andrew's Letter to the Chaplains in the Army as a guide.

  • John W. Alvord
  • Robert F. Bunting
  • Benjamin W. Chidlaw
  • Dr. Robert Lewis Dabney
  • Isaac W. Handy
  • Robert W. Landis