Caring for soldiers and freedmen

Presbyterian chaplains: Benjamin W. Chidlaw

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

Rev. Benjamin W. Chidlaw (1811-1892) was a prominent Presbyterian Sunday School worker who became a Union chaplain for the Thirty-ninth Ohio Infantry at Camp Dennison in 1861. He spent less than a year as chaplain due to ill health, but he wrote fondly of his experiences in his autobiography, The Story of My Life. One of Chidlaw's most remarkable memories as chaplain was his Thanksgiving sermon, delivered at Camp Todd Macon, Missouri, on November 28, 1861, about which he wrote:

"…This solemn occasion, standing in such a presence, our national life imperilled [sic], our country in the throes of a gigantic rebellion, and the horrors of war staring us in the face, made the delivery of my discourse the most trying and important effort in my life and experience…"