Sunday, June 23, 2013
Men of the Cloth in the Civil War
Religion in the army was largely a personal matter. Many soldiers carried their own bibles and religious objects. The more formal service was left to regimental chaplains, who usually received appointment by the unit commander on the vote of field officers and company commanders. Such chaplains had to be a regularly ordained minister of a Christian denomination and received the pay and allowances of a captain of cavalry. The chaplain’s main duties included overseeing the moral condition of the men in their regiments, conducting Sunday services, and assisting at the burial of soldiers. Conscientious chaplains also visited hospitals and guard houses and ministered to the individual needs of soldiers. Military officials made regular efforts to weed out the incompetent, but were often unsuccessful. The proportion of Catholic to Protestant chaplains was one to 20 although Catholic historians believe the ratio of their faith to Protestants in the Army was at least one in six. There was little friction between the Catholic and Protestant chaplains and most men of the cloth were regarded as sincere, hard-working religious men.