Hospital Chaplaincy

Civil War Hospital Chaplains

Ward in the Carver General Hospital, Washington, D.C. (National Archives Identifier: 524592).

During the Civil War, “for every hospital bed occupied by a soldier wounded in battle, there were at least seven others filled by those with diseases such as measles, typhoid fever, malaria, and dysentery. Such a high incidence of disease early in the war caught the Army Medical Department unprepared. For that reason, most Civil War hospitals were initially overcrowded and understaffed. Since no chaplaincy service was available in military hospitals, local ministers and church members ministered to the wounded.” (Mayniak, 183-184)

Continuing reading this article here.




Worship Services at Compiegne

Soldiers transitioning through the 16th Reinforcement Depot at Compiegne, France in 1944 and 1945 had many opportunities to worship while there, to include Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Latter Day Saints and Christian Science services and studies.

Ministering in the 16th were 2 Catholic chaplains: Chaplains Welsh and Duggan; 1 Jewish chaplain: Chaplain Decter; 4 Protestant chaplains: Chaplains Powers, Swartz, Jones and Grim; and 2 “lay readers”: Major Hotaling (Christian Science) and Sergeant Mitchell (Latter Day Saints).

Here’s the schedule:

WW2-Compiegne-Religious Services-30

Front cover and schedule of worship services at the 16th Reinforcement Depot at Compiegne, France, 1944-45 (author’s collection).



Postcard from Chaplain School

It didn’t take long until the permanent Chaplain School that was reestablished to handle the influx of chaplains during WW2 outgrew its capacity at Fort Benjamin Harrison and moved to Harvard University where it remained until nearly the end of the war.

At least one chaplain-in-training enjoyed his time at the Chaplain School at Harvard, according to a postcard he sent to friends in West Virginia in January 1943. On the postcard he writes:

Chaplain (1st Lt) Howard Amick; Section 5-Chaplains School; Harvard- Cambridge Mass

Did the high water of a few weeks ago get up to your place? School is going fine & I am enjoying it a lot. Hope all of you are kicking around. Give my regards to the Imhoff Household.

Howard Amick

By necessity, postcards are brief, but it’s interesting to see one written by a student who in just a few weeks may be a chaplain ministering to soldiers in combat. However, at least initially Chaplain Amick was assigned to the 17th Infantry Training Battalion at Camp Wheeler, Georgia. He entered the chaplaincy after pastoring Warwood Lutheran Church in Wheeling, West Virginia.

Here’s the original postcard:





Happy 243rd Anniversary!

The Army Chaplain Corps celebrates its 243rd anniversary on 29 July 2018. Here’s a short video celebrating where they have gone and what they have done:

Happy Anniversary to the United States Army Chaplain Corps!



A WW2 Chaplain’s Letter from War

In our modern wars, service members are more likely to send an e-mail, video chat or even have a cell phone to talk with family back home rather than send a letter, but back before today’s technology, families had to wait for handwritten letters to make it to the battlefield and home again before hearing from their loved ones.

V-Mail-Chaplain-1945-TitleOften, the time taken to compose these letters created interesting combinations of thoughts that people at war experienced. This particular letter was written on 3 February 1945 by Chaplain Clarence W. Baldwin to a friend named Grace Byers who was living in Pasadena, California during the war.

In this interesting letter, Chaplain Baldwin talks a bit about the assignments he had already had during the war and how his current assignment takes him all around England and into London many times. He wrote about some “food for thought” from a gentleman named Clifton, that Grace had included in one of her letters. He later develops that “food” into a sermon outline for future use with his soldiers. Chaplain Baldwin also describes to Grace how he enjoys receiving letters from home though he does not always have time to answer, but has a system to reply when he has time.

Disconcerting in this chaplain’s letter, however, is his confession that his work as a minister is “too hard” and that he is “thinking about giving it up when the war is over” questioning “who the chaplain is supposed to see when his morale is low.” Fortunately, though, things must have gotten better for Chaplain Baldwin as he continued in the ministry after the war, pastoring at least one church in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Here is a transcript of the letter, followed by a picture of the original v-mail Chaplain Baldwin mailed to Grace:

Dear Grace:

It was very nice of you to write to me. I enjoyed your Christmas card, the letter and the enclosure of ‘Clifton’s’. He does have a nice idea and the ‘food for thot’ [sic] is very appropriate.

So you like California? I do not blame you at all. After being over here I like everything about the USA. The weather is perpetually poor over on this side of the world and there is no place to go to find the kind of weather you like as we do back home. We can’t do as you have done [and] go to California or to Florida.

You notice that my address has changed again. I really get around. I have been in the Infantry, Medics, Ordinance and now I have a supervising job as District Chaplain. This work entails a great deal of traveling and I am seeing England at government expense. I get into London often and find myself better acquainted with that city than I am of most cities back home.

I hear regularly from home. Sis writes to me very often and I do not always find time to answer her. You will excuse my tardy reply to your letter. I always relish the idea of getting letters and most always answer them even though I may not do so very soon. I keep a file of unanswered letters and when I have a day off as I do today I get busy and answer many of them. There is no use for me to go anyplace on my day off. It would be too much like the proverbial Busman’s Holiday.

I just now stopped writing this letter to read again the ‘Food for Thot’ [sic] and I find at least one good sermon in the material. I think I shall call it ‘This is the Time and the Place.’ The material suggests that yesterday was mine, tomorrow will be mine but today is mine. The other two belong to God. Also, another bit in this paper suggests that we should not look at the grass in other person’s yard to our own opportunities wherever you are. [sic] Time and place, today and here. It should work out don’t you think? I could use the text ‘Do not be anxious about tomorrow’ which should be appropriate.

Some of these times I will let you know how the men like it. Already I have an illustration to pop into my mind. Always the preacher. Walking around the streets building sermons – day dreaming and what not. Seriously though, I am thinking about giving it up when the war is over. Believe me it is too hard, I know. A ministers life is very difficult. Always thinking about sermon material, programs, attendance, sick calls, problems, problems, problems. The other person never realizes that you may have a problem of your own. So they continue to pile them up on your shoulders. I have often wondered who the chaplain is supposed to see when his morale is low. It is, in a way a lonely life. Well, now you know, the chaplain comes to you.

Love, Clarence



V-mail letter from Chaplain Clarence W. Baldwin to Grace Byers from England, 3 February 1945 (author’s collection).



Soldiers of God

The U.S. Army Chaplain Corps March was first performed by Bing Crosby on Easter in 1944. While many may be familiar with the chorus, there are also verses to the song you may not know. Enjoy Bing singing Soldiers of God with prints from the Chaplain Corps series’ History of the Chaplaincy and Chaplain Activities.



Army Chaplain School

Army Chaplain School to Celebrate Centennial in July


Army chaplaincy has much to celebrate in 2018 – the 243rd birthday of the Army Chaplain Corps and the 100 year anniversary of the Army Chaplain School.

The  saying  goes,  “There  are  no  atheists  in  foxholes.” While the veracity of that saying is
up for debate, one thing is true: if a Soldier is in a foxhole, there is an Army chaplain and
religious affairs specialist close by.


Chaplain (LTC) Glenn Palmer with RAS in AIT at Ft. Jackson, 22 May 2018 (USACHCS photo)

On July 20, the Army Chaplaincy will converge on Columbia, South Carolina, to hold the Centennial Celebration of the Army Chaplain School and to recognize the Army Chaplain Corps 243 Years of service.

The  event  will  be  held  at  the  University  of  South  Carolina Alumni  Center,  900  Senate
Street,  Columbia,  South  Carolina. All  are  welcome.  For  ticket  information  visit This will be an evening of fun and inspiration as we celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Army Chaplain School by “Looking back … launching forward,” said Chap. (Col.) Jeffery D. Hawkins, commandant of the U.S. Army Chaplaincy Center and School.

For 243 Years just as the Army itself, chaplains have served to “bring God to Soldiers and Soldiers to God.”

It was Continental Army Commander, Gen. George Washing- ton who is credited with saying, “We need chaplains.” And on his request to the Continental Congress, chaplains were established as part of the Army on July 25, 1775.

Army chaplains have stood alongside America’s fighting men and  women  during  all  of  our  wars.  Some  are  buried  in Arlington National Cemetery and cemeteries across the country. On the campus  of  the  U.S. Army  Chaplain  Center  and  School  at  Fort Jackson is a memorial garden with the names of chaplains and religious affairs specialist wars, conflicts and attacks on our homeland.

Eight have been awarded the Medal of Honor: Chap. John Whitehead, Civil War; Chap. Francis B. Hall, Civil War; 1st. Lt. James Hill, Civil War; Chap. Milton L. Haney, Civil War; Calvin  P. Titus,  Battle  of  Peking;  Chap.  (Capt.) Emil  J.  Kapaun, Korea; Chap. (Maj.) Charles J. Watters, Vietnam; Chap. (Capt.) Angelo J. Liteky, Vietnam.

The Army Chief of Chaplains, Chap. (Maj. Gen.) Paul Hurley has charged Army chaplains to “Live the Call Fiercely” as they go out among units to carry out their duties to nurture the living, care for the wounded and honor the fallen.

The importance of chaplains in the Army was fully realized with the establishment of the Army
Chaplain School.


A photo of one of the first class of graduates from the Army Chaplain School, then located at Camp Grant, Illinois, 1920 (USACHCS photo).

The U.S. Army Chaplain School’s first session began March 3, 1918, to orient civilian clergymen to Army life. Originally located at Fort Monroe, Virginia, the five-week course consisted of military law, international law, Army regulations, service customs,  hygiene,  first  aid and  horsemanship.  Chap.  (Maj.) Aldred A. Pruden was appointed as the school’s first commandant.  USACHCS  re-located  to  Fort  Jackson,  South  Carolina in 1996.

“Here at USACHCS we are ‘Shaping servant leaders … of unmatched character, competence and
connection … for God and country,’” Hawkins said.

The USACHCS trains chaplains and religious affairs specialists/NCOs to provide religious support to America’s Army and their families while assisting commanders in ensuring the right of free exercise of religion for all Soldiers.
Over 20 courses are offered to the chaplains and the religious affairs specialists/NCOs to
include the Chaplain Officer Basic  Leader  Course,  residence  and  non-residence  Chaplain
Captain Career Course, Brigade Chaplain Course, Advanced Individual Training and the Lieutenant Colonel Course. Functional Courses include the Resource Manager Course and the Fund Clerk Course.

In 2017, 1390 chaplains, chaplain candidates and religious affairs specialists received instruction in a variety of courses. The different components represented are: 477 active duty, 361 National Guard, 551 Reserve and 1 international student.

The religious affairs specialist also helps ensure a Soldier’s spiritual wellness is taken care of.
Religious  affairs  specialist  training  began  as  the  Enlisted Assistant  Basic  Course  in
1950  at  the  Chaplain  School  then located at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. In 1996, the U.S.
Army Chaplain Center and School, including both officer and enlisted courses, moved to its present home at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

Together, the chaplain and religious affairs specialist make up the Unit Ministry Team. The UMT provides religious sup- port and advice to the commander. It is the duty and responsibility of the religious affairs specialist along with their Chap- lain to tend to the spirit of each Soldier. While the chaplain is a non-combatant, the religious affairs specialist is responsible for the security of the team, and is fully trained in Soldier tasks and religious support matters.

Today, there are chaplains and religious affairs specialists serving the Army in active duty, Reserve and National Guard units around the world.



Article data: written by Mel Slater, Army Chaplain Center and School Public Affairs. Article and photos first appeared in the Fort Jackson Leader, 4 July 2018, pgs. 6 & 20. Accessed 5 July 2018.


Why Memorial Day?



War, Just War & Moral Injury

Here is a brief video culminating in a short discussion on Moral Injury.


History of Non-Christian Chaplains

It has not been until relatively recent history in our military that faith groups other than Judeo-Christian have been officially recognized. Up until 1862, a chaplain was required to be endorsed by a “Christian” denomination excluding any chaplains in other faith groups from being officially recognized by the government.

Continue reading the History of Non-Christian Chaplains here



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