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WAR MEMORIES
OF A CHAPLAIN




TR UMBULL




LIBRARY



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA.



Class



-1

("JO



WAR MEMORIES
OF AN ARMY CHAPLAIN



,



WAR MEMORIES
OF AN ARMY CHAPLAIN



BY H. CLAY TRUMBULL

Formerly Chaplain of the Tenth Regiment of Connecticut Volunteers,
later Chaplain of the Society of the Army of the James, Chaplain of
the Department of Connecticut of the Grand Army of the Repub
lic, Chaplain of the Massachusetts Commandery and of the
Pennsylvania Commandery of the Military Order of the
Loyal Legion of the United States, and Chaplain-in-
Chief of the Commandery-in-Chief of the Military
Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States



ILLUSTRATED



NEW ,

CHARLES SCRIBNER S SONS
1898



Copyright, 1898,



H. CLAY TRUMBULL.



PREFACE



Many books about the American Civil War have
been written to show the movements of the armies
and the characteristics of personal commanders.
Little, however, has been written to show the
thoughts and feelings of the soldier in active army
service. The standpoint of a regimental chaplain
gives him the opportunity to speak on this subject
with peculiar acquaintance and sympathy.

Archbishop Ireland of St. Paul, who was chap
lain of the Fifth Minnesota Regiment in that war,
writing on this subject to the author of this vol
ume, says : " The point that you intend treating
is new, and will reveal the real spirit of our armies
more than descriptions of battles and military move
ments. As I know, a chaplain can write much
better than any one else about the inner spirit of
armies."

Missiles of destruction, means of defense, and
modes of warfare, change from generation to gen
eration ; but emotions of the heart and influences
that affect these in times of peril and of privation,
of joy and of sorrow, of hope and of fear, are ever
the same, while the human heart is human, and the
sources of strength and of weakness are as they are.

v



220890



vi Preface

In the belief that there are lessons out of the sol
dier experiences and emotions of a former genera
tion for those who are called to soldier service in
the present day, these pages are submitted by one
whose memories of army chaplain service will be
fresh and vivid while life remains.



This entire work, including the foregoing Preface,
was written and in type before the actual begin
ning of our speedily ended war with Spain, but
the Publishers deemed it inexpedient to issue the
volume at that season of the year. This explana
tion will account for the absence of any mention of
corroborative incidents out of that war. Chapters
of old-time experiences like these have, however, a
value apart from the question of their timeliness.
Their fitness is for days of war or of peace our
days or the days of others.

H. C. T.



PHILADELPHIA,

September, 1898.



CONTENTS



i

PLACE AND WORK OF A REGIMENTAL CHAPLAIN . i

II
ARMY CHAPELS AND RELIGIOUS SERVICES . . 15

III
DISCLOSURES OF THE SOLDIER HEART ... 39

IV
A CHAPLAIN s SERMONS ..... 65

V

A CHAPLAIN s PASTORAL WORK . , . .105

VI

INFLUENCE OF THE HOME MAIL . . 133

VII
DEVOTION TO THE FLAG 153

VIII

DESERTERS AND DESERTIONS . , , . 177

vii



viii Contents



IX
SOLDIER GRAVES AND SOLDIER BURIALS . . 203

X

UNDER A FLAG OF TRUCE . . . . 233

XI
PRISON EXPERIENCES . . -253

XII
GLIMPSES OF GENERAL GRANT .... 305

XIII

LlNKINGS WITH THE NAVY .... * 335

XIV

SEEING SLAVERY AND EMANCIPATION . , 367



INDEX 413



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

Selected and arranged under the supervision of Mr. William Martin Johnson.



Army Chapel before Richmond . . Frontispiece

colors and our Connecticut state ensig
pulpit when the chaplain conducted ser

From ferrotype taken at the time.



Our national colors and our Connecticut state ensign were stacked
behind the pulpit when the chaplain conducted service at it."



OpposUt page

Evening Service on Deck of Cahawba ... 24

" In the evening I led a prayer-meeting on the crowded deck."
By I. W. Taber.

Man Overboard in Port Royal Harbor ... 42

" Stop that steamer 1 shouted our colonel. You ve lost a man 1 "
By Carlton T. Chapman.

Service in Woods on New Market Road ... 90

" In the drizzling rain of a wintry Sunday morning."
By Gilbert Gaul.

In the Yankee Hospital, Charleston . . .128

" As I rose from my knees I saw that we were not alone."
By Alice Barber Stephens.

Distribution of Home Mail in Libby Prison . . 144

" With outreached hand, as though he would clutch the letter instantly,
he called aloud, Here ! here ! here 1 "

By I. W. Taber



Carrying Colors aboard Transport at St. Augustine . 160

d reverent mien, as the
th of the extended pier t

By R. F. Zogbaum.



"With bared heads and reverent mien, as the colors and the guard
moved down the length of the extended pier to the waiting vessel. "



IX



List of Illustrations



Opposite fage

Execution of Deserter at Deep Bottom . . .182

" The firing party took position in front of him a dozen paces distant."
By Gilbert Gaul.



Burials at Fort Wagner 210

on soldiers were dead on
, and in the ditch before

By A. C. Redwood.



" Hundreds of Union soldiers were dead on the parapet of the
fort, and in the ditch before it."



Flag of Truce on Kinston Road .... 244

" 1 put myself under the Confederate cavalry escort."
By Gilbert Gaul.

Morning Scene at Columbia Jail .... 278

" Some of us would arrest his attention while she passed over the paper."
By R. F. Zogbaum.

General Grant on New Market Road . . . 308

" There s only one man in this army who wears three stars. "
By T. de Thulstrup.

Bombardment of Fort Sumter 364

" A huge shot from the fort struck the iron pilot-house in which he stood."
By R. F. Zogbaum.

Colored Servants Studying at Night .... 382

" These boys were poring over their treasured books."
By C. D. \Veldon.



CHAPTER I

PLACE AND WORK OF A REGIMENTAL CHAPLAIN

When our Civil War broke out, in 1861, but
little was known about regimental chaplains. Our
regular army was hardly more than a skeleton
organization. A regiment was rarely all in one
place. Small battalions were doing garrison duty,
or were on outpost service. There were post
chaplains at various stations where military needs
required the gathering of soldiers, but a regi
mental chaplain was so little called for that his
position and duties were hardly known.

The standard military dictionary of that time de
fined " a chaplain " as " a commissioned officer or
clergyman who performs divine service." Accord
ing to army regulations a chaplain was entitled to
the pay and rations of a captain of cavalry ; but
that provision did not indicate his rank, his sphere,
or his duties. The only specific utterance on this
point in the Articles of War was, that a chaplain
could be courtmartialed " like any other officer,"
in case of a misdemeanor.

With the formation of the great volunteer army
of the United States, the regimental chaplaincy



^i : War- Memories of a Chaplain

sprang into prominence. In the lack of specific
regulations as to the rank, uniform, and duties of a
chaplain, great variety in these particulars naturally
showed itself. Many new chaplains adopted the
ordinary uniform of a captain of cavalry, with the
shoulder-straps, sash, and sword included. In a
number of instances the position was given to an
irreligious layman, as a mere matter of favor to a
friend of the regimental commander. Soon, how
ever, Congressional enactments measurably righted
these incongruities. It was required that a chap
lain be a duly authorized clergyman of a religious
denomination ; that his rank should be that of
" chaplain, without command ; " and that he should
be borne on the field and staff rolls next after the
surgeon, who ranked as a major.

It was still, however, an open question as to what
precise service a regimental chaplain could perform
to best advantage, and who was best fitted for that
service. There were many applicants for this posi
tion who were duly authorized clergymen, yet who
were not in demand in parishes where they were
familiarly known, and who did not make good
chaplains when appointed. There were others who
were well fitted for excellent work in pulpit and
parish at home, who were poorly fitted by their
experience and training for the peculiar demands
of army life in camp and campaigning. Yet others
were eminently adapted, or quickly adapted them
selves, to the new state of things which the army



Place and Work of a Chaplain 3

life opened up during our Civil War, and they
became representative regimental chaplains. There
was a place and a work for these men, and they
found and filled it.

The position of a regimental chaplain was unique.
He was a commissioned officer, yet without com
mand. No question of relative rank brought him
into rivalry with any other officer. He could be
welcomed alike by a major-general or by a second
lieutenant without the fear of any seeming incon
gruity of association, if only he had the power of
making himself personally or socially agreeable or
useful. Yet he could be among the enlisted men
as one entirely with them in sympathy, without any
thought on the part of either that he was stepping
out of his sphere or crossing the line which divided
commissioned officers as a class from enlisted men
as a class.

In this a chaplain had a position utterly unlike
any other person in the army ; and it was his own
fault if he did not avail himself of it, and improve
its advantages. Any other commissioned officer
in the army was shut off from being entirely free
with an officer of a higher or of a lower rank than
his own; and the line that separated officers and
enlisted men in the army was so positive and real
as to admit of little communication between them
except in positive duty. Hence an officer of any
grade was glad to meet in his army life one person
to whom he could speak with entire freedom, if his



4 War Memories of a Chaplain

chaplain had the qualities and experience to fit him
for such fellowship. And the enlisted men could
have no such communication with the supposed
upper world of officerdom as was secured to them
by a sympathetic and tactful chaplain.

Our soldiers commissioned officers and en
listed men were as a class reverent. Men who
took their lives in their hands, and who faced death
in their ordinary work, were glad to have one who
in any sense stood as God s representative, pray in
their behalf and invoke God s blessing on them.
Sick, wounded, or dying, soldiers welcomed the
loving ministry of a chaplain. Soldiers were glad
when words of prayer, and other timely services,
were spoken above the grave of a dead comrade.

Every soldier was human, and because he was
human he welcomed human sympathy. Away from
home and friends, he was glad to have a chaplain
show an interest in him and his dear ones, and to
invite his confidence concerning matters that most
deeply affected himself personally. If the chaplain
came to his tent, the soldier loved to show him his
home photographs, and to tell him of his latest
home letters.

Preaching to soldiers, in camp and garrison and
field, was a phase of the chaplain s duties and ser
vice that enabled him to get a hold upon the man s
respect and sympathies ; and the pastoral work
among the men at all times, in their tents, and as
they marched and rested, was a yet more potent



Place and Work of a Chaplain 5

means of a chaplain s power over their hearts for
good. The more he did for them wisely, the more
he could do, and the more they loved and trusted
him accordingly.

There were times when the very presence of the
chaplain with his regiment on the eve of battle, or
while already under fire, was inspiriting to officers
and men, who were encouraged to feel that they
had God s blessing while one of God s representa
tives was immediately with them. Said a brave
but rough officer in a New England regiment, with
reference to this influence over the soldiers as
soldiers, " We count our chaplain as good as a
hundred men in a fight." That particular officer
seemed, in his conduct, to care little for the chap
lain as a public teacher of morals, or as setting a
Christian example, but he did value his inspiring
power over the men in the discharge of their duty
as brave and faithful soldiers.

A notable illustration of the opportunity and
power of a good regimental chaplain in the face of
the enemy is furnished in the memorable service
of Chaplain William Corby, of the Eighty-eighth
New York Regiment, during the battle of Gettys
burg. It was toward the close of the first day of
that crisis conflict, while the Third Corps was being
driven back, and the roar of battle was sounding
on every side, that General Hancock called on
General Caldwell to have his division ready to
move into action. The Irish Brigade, under Gene-



War Memories of a Chaplain



ral Thomas Meagher, stood in column of regiments,
closed in mass, awaiting the order to move forward.
It was in that testing moment, of which the bravest
soldier feels the oppressive solemnity, that Chap
lain Corby proposed to give absolution to all the
men before going into the fight. Most of the men
in that brigade were Catholics, and those who were
not were glad to share reverently in the benefits of
the service. General St. Clair Mulholland, then a
colonel in that brigade, has told of that service, and
Father Corby, just before his death, in 1897, at
tested the accuracy of this narrative.

" Father Corby stood on a large rock in front of
the brigade. Addressing the men, he explained
what he was about to do, saying that each one
could receive the benefit of the absolution by
making a sincere Act of Contrition and firmly re
solving to embrace the first opportunity of confess
ing his sins, urging them to do their duty, and
reminding them of the high and sacred nature of
their trust as soldiers, and the noble object for
which they fought. . . The brigade was standing
at ( Order arms ! As he closed his address, every
man, Catholic and non-Catholic, fell on his knees,
with his head bowed down. Then, stretching his
right hand toward the brigade, Father Corby pro
nounced the words of the absolution :

" Dominus noster Jesus Christus vos absolvat,
et ego, auctoritate ipsius, vos absolvo ab omni vin-
culo, excommunicationis interdicti, in quantum



Place and Work of a Chaplain 7

possum et vos indigetis deinde ego absolve vos, a
peccatis vestris, in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus
Sancti, Amen.

" The scene was more than impressive it was
awe-inspiring. Near by stood a brilliant throng of
officers who had gathered to witness this very
unusual occurrence, and while there was profound
silence in the ranks of the Second Corps, yet over
to the left, out by the peach orchard and Little
Round Top, where Weed and Vincent and Hazlitt
were dying, the roar of the battle rose and swelled
and re-echoed through the woods, making music
more sublime than ever sounded through cathedral
aisle. The act seemed to be in harmony with the
surroundings. I do not think there was a man in
the brigade who did not offer up a heartfelt prayer.
For some it was their last ; they knelt there in their
grave-clothes. In less than half an hour many of
them were numbered with the dead of July 2.
Who can doubt that their prayers were good ?
What was wanting in the eloquence of the priest
to move them to repentance was supplied in the
incidents of the fight. That heart would be incor
rigible indeed that the scream of a Whitworth bolt,
added to Father Corby s touching appeal, would
not move to contrition."

Father Corby said of this scene :

" In performing this ceremony I faced the army.
My eye covered thousands of officers and men. I
noticed that all, Catholic and non-Catholic, officers,



8 War Memories of a Chaplain

and private soldiers, showed a profound respect,
wishing at this fatal crisis to receive every benefit
of divine grace that could be imparted through the
instrumentality of the Church ministry. Even
Major-General Hancock removed his hat, and, as
far as compatible with the situation, bowed in
reverential devotion."

Who can doubt that the men of that brigade
fought the better in that battle for their chaplain s
presence and service of then ?

Inevitably, courage was the standard in active
army service. Every soldier must be ready to
meet danger or death, and, if he failed in that
supreme test of a soldier in time of war, he was
every way a failure. A chaplain had a duty to in
spire men for their service for their country. If he
was himself a coward, or seemed unready to face a
soldier s perils, no words from him could have
weight with his men. His influence for good was
destroyed among them. If, on the other hand, their
chaplain shared their dangers bravely, his men
gave him more than full credit for his courage and
fidelity, and were the readier to do their duty under
his direct appeals.

Two soldiers were overheard speaking of the
chaplain of another regiment than their own, in
contrast with theirs.

" He s always on picket with his regiment," they
said, " and he s always ready to go with it into a
fight. You don t catch our Holy John up there."



Place and Work of a Chaplain 9

" You don t mean that our chaplain s a coward,
do you ? " asked the other in a scornful tone.

" Oh, no ! I don t say he s a coward; but, when
ever there s any firing ahead, he has to go for the
mail."

"Well, but he s got to go for the mail, you
know."

" Yes ; but, if the firing is sudden, he can t stop
to get his saddle on."

And the soldiers laughed together over this pic
ture of their frightened chaplain. That chaplain
could not preach a soldier s duty of courage to
men who saw that he gave way to unsoldierly
cowardice. But there were many brave and
tender-hearted regimental chaplains in the Army
of the Union, and in the other army as well ; and
they were loved and honored, and were useful
accordingly.

In the important volume, " Regimental Losses
in the American Civil War," compiled by Colonel
William F. Fox from the official records at Wash
ington, there is a chapter showing the loss of officers
in action, from army and corps commanders to
officers of the regimental staff. Chaplains receive
honorable mention in this chapter. " It will doubt
less be a surprise to many," says Colonel Fox, " to
note the number of chaplains killed in battle.
These gallant members of the church militant
were wont to take a more active part in the fight
ing than has been generally credited to them." He



io War Memories of a Chaplain

mentions the names of eleven " among the chap
lains killed in action," and says that " in addition,
there were several who lost their lives by the dis
eases incident to the hardship and exposure of a
soldier s life."

Specifying a few as illustrative of the many, he
says : " Chaplain Arthur B. Fuller, of the Six
teenth Massachusetts [a brother of Margaret Fuller
Ossoli], had resigned from the service, and had just
received his discharge, when he learned that his
regiment was about to go into action at Fredericks-
burg. Crossing the river in the boats with the for
lorn hope, he joined the skirmishers of the Nine
teenth Massachusetts, who were then fighting their
way through the streets. He fell dead, rifle in hand,
in front of a grocery store on Caroline Street."
Chaplain Frank Butler of the Twenty -fifth New
Jersey " was killed at the siege of Suffolk, while
carrying water to some wounded men." He was
characterized as " a noble fellow."

Chaplain Orlando N. Benton, of the Fifty-first
New York, fell at New Berne, and General Reno
states, in his official report, that he " was killed
while nobly encouraging the men to do their duty."
Of Chaplain Thomas L. Ambrose of the Twelfth
New Hampshire, " killed in the trenches at Peters
burg," it was declared that "a braver man never
lived ; a truer man never wore the garb of
Christianity."

As showing that the courage and efficiency of



Place and Work of a Chaplain 1 1

regimental chaplains were not confined to one side
of the line, Colonel Fox mentions that " at Resaca
among the Confederate dead which lay so thickly
in front of the Twenty-seventh Indiana, was a family
group : a gray-haired chaplain and his two sons."

Official reports of battles, from commanders of
regiments and brigades and from those of higher
rank, as well as the various state histories of the
war, bear ample public testimony to the courage,
efficiency, and faithfulness of regimental chaplains
who fell in battle, or who wore out their lives in
ministry to soldiers. Nor were those who died
during the war the only chaplains who won honor,
or who deserved it. Many a chaplain who did
good service then has shown in other prominent
spheres since then that he was of the sort to serve
faithfully his fellows, his country, and his God,
wherever his lot was cast

From among the large number of those who
could be included in such a list, it is sufficient to
mention a few representative regimental chaplains,
of different denominations, in different parts of the
country, who have exhibited marked ability and
efficiency as prelates, pastors, college presidents
or professors, editors, or in other public spheres.

Archbishop John Ireland of St. Paul, so eminent
for his loyalty to American institutions and his
zeal in promoting good citizenship and public
harmony ; General John Eaton, superintendent of
freedmen, United States Commissioner of Educa-



1 2 War Memories of a Chaplahi

tion, president of Marietta College, editor, and
author; Bishop Lawrence McMahon of Hartford,
loved and honored in his strong diocese; Bishop
C. C. McCabe, now of Texas, efficient pastor, church
builder, missionary secretary, and general Chris
tian worker ; President H. L. Wayland, formerly of
Kalamazoo College, Michigan, now of Philadel
phia, teacher, pastor, and editor; President H. S.
DeForest, instructor in Yale, pastor in Iowa, and
then at the head of Talladega College, Alabama ;
Very Rev. William Corby, for a time president of
the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, and after
wards provincial general for the United States, of
the Order of the Holy Cross; and Dr. Albert
Zabriskie Gay, warden of Racine College, Wiscon
sin, after several successful rectorships.

Also Professor John Henry Thayer of Andover
Theological Seminary and of Harvard University ;
Professor M. B. Riddle of Hartford Theological
Seminary, and of Western Theological Seminary ;
Professor Norman Fox of William Jewell College,
editor and pastor; Archdeacon C. C. Tiffany of the
influential diocese of New York ; Dr. Samuel J.
Nicolls of St. Louis, moderator of the Presbyterian
General Assembly; Dr. Arthur Edwards of Chicago,
editor of the North Western Christian Advocate ; Dr.
J.T. Gibson, editor of the Presbyterian Messenger;
Dr. J. A. Worden, superintendent of the Sunday-
school department of the Presbyterian Church ; Dr.
Frederick H. Wines, prominent in connection with



Place and Work of a Chaplain 13

organized charities in Illinois and the country at
large ; Dr. B. H. Agnew of Pittsburg and Philadel
phia, now secretary of the Board of Ministerial Re
lief in the Presbyterian Church ; and Dr. George H.
Hepworth of Boston and New York, pastor, editor,
and world-wide special correspondent.

In the great constellation of prominent pastors
before and after their chaplain service there were
the Rev. Drs. A. L. Stone of Boston and San
Francisco, J. M. Manning of Boston, A. H. Quint
of New Bedford, Horace James of Worcester and
Greenwich, Henry C. McCook of St. Louis and
Philadelphia, Augustus Woodbury of Providence,
Joseph H. Twichell of Hartford; J. C. Kimball of
Massachusetts, Oregon, and Connecticut; Henry
Hopkins of Massachusetts and Missouri ; Moses
Smith of Connecticut and Michigan ; A. L. Frisbie
of Connecticut and Iowa ; Edward B. Willson of
Salem; George Wilson Chalfant of Pittsburg; G.W.
Collier of Ohio ; Edward H. Hall of Cambridge ;
" Father Leo," of Winsted, the loved Franciscan
leader ; John H. Moors, whom the Unitarians called
" Bishop of Western Massachusetts ; " Frederic
Denison of Rhode Island ; Hiram Eddy, taken
prisoner at Bull Run, and fresh in his Master s
service at fourscore ; and Charles Babbidge, who
was with the Sixth Massachusetts in the streets of
Baltimore, the first Harvard graduate having a
commission in the war, and who was still stalwart
at more than ninety years of age.



14 War Memories of a Chaplain

And what shall I say more ? for time will fail me.
Their names are written on high, and ought to be



Online LibraryH. Clay (Henry Clay) TrumbullWar memories of an army chaplain → online text (page 1 of 25)