Baptists and the American Civil War: May 3, 1861

Army ChaplainToday the Confederate Congress, having already officially claimed the blessing of God, approves a bill installing (Christian) chaplains in Confederate armies.

Prior to this time, military chaplains were not the norm in America’s armies. The Civil War, however, led to military chaplains as a fixture, and after the war the practice continued. Thousands of chaplains and/or army missionaries served in the U.S. and C.S.A. armies during the Civil War. Periods of revival took place among army ranks South and North, and as many as 200,000 Union soldiers and 150,000 Confederate forces were converted during the war.

The Confederacy also initiated the practice of providing funding for military chaplains. And while many white Baptists in the South became ardent Christian Nationalists during the war, casting aside their firm commitment to the separation of church and state, one church / state line most Baptists of the South refused to cross was that of taking money from the government. Because of this, southern Baptists struggled to procure enough chaplains to serve their soldiers during the war.