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a few hours. In addition to telling them of the importance of putting their consciences in order and preparing to meet their Creator, he asked them to kneel while he begged God to view their undertaking with favor. As they bowed in reverence, he entreated them “in the name of all they held sacred, to leave their bodies on the field if they must, but never to allow the slightest shadow of shame to dim the starry luster of the banner they had sworn to defend.” One man said that McKinnon "scared hell out of the First California." 21
THE SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR
Though their motives, words, and deeds regarding war and related issues varied, the chaplains went to war with the troops. Post chaplains left their stations to join a regiment, or to serve at one of the camps, posts, or hospitals in the Southeast. The regimental chaplains were ready to go to Cuba with their units, but only William T. Anderson managed to get there. Volunteer chaplains served with their units. For the first time since the Civil War—though the incident of David White at Crazy Women's Creek was an exception-chaplains participated in combat operations. For the first time chaplains accompanied American troops into a land not contiguous to the United States. For the first time American chaplains went into a conflict as official noncombatants. Under Articles I and II of the Geneva Conventions of 22 August 1864, to which the United States became a signatory in 1882, chaplains employed in ambulances or hospitals were classified with medical personnel; they were to be acknowledged as “neuter” and, as such, to be “protected and respected by belliger
If, however, they were separated from an ambulance or hospital, they were asking to be shot. Leslie R. Groves said it very succinctly: “A noncombatant had best be out of the way when the guns are working. In fact, he and some other chaplains discovered that protection and respect were not guaranteed when they were with the medics.
William T. Anderson, the only black Regular Army chaplain to serve in Cuba during the campaign, almost did not get there. When his unit, the 10th Cavalry Regiment, left Fort Assinniboine, Montana, for Chickamauga on 19 April 1898, he had to stay behind and function as post commander, quartermaster, commissary officer, and post exchange officer; the regimental commander could not afford to leave a line officer behind for those duties. Anderson thus became the first black officer to command an American military post; he served in that capacity until his relief arrived
on 28 June. Then, on his own request he was ordered to join his regiment in Cuba, which he did on 24 July."
George W. Prioleau was on his way to Cuba with the 9th Cavalry Regiment but contracted malaria in Tampa just before his departure and remained in the states. When he recovered sufficiently, he was placed on recruiting duty for his regiment in Tuskegee, Alabama, and in his home town of Charleston, South Carolina. Though recruiting was not a customary duty for a chaplain, his regiment, as well as other regiments, needed men to meet its authorized wartime strength; it was therefore an important duty. Chaplains Theophilus G. Steward and Allen Allensworth were on regimental recruiting duty for the duration of the Cuban campaign; both men served in their home town areas, Steward in Dayton, Ohio, and Allensworth in Louisville, Kentucky. In that capacity Allensworth was especially successful. While awaiting his orders at Fort Douglas, Utah, after his unit, the 24th Infantry Regiment, had departed, he recruited in the Salt Lake City area for a regiment composed of white troops. After he received his orders, he recruited 465 men, which put the strength of the Twenty-fourth at 1,272.25
Other chaplains were fortunate enough not to be burdened by duties unrelated to their vocation and were able to function as ministers and priests. Significantly, they learned that their ministrations were in greater demand and more appreciated during wartime. At Fort McPherson, Georgia, Orville J. Nave, who had suffered from three heart attacks in 1884 and had been in general poor health, enjoyed the most successful ministry of his career as a chaplain. Yet his responsibilities there could have overwhelmed him. Upon his arrival he found that there was no suitable place to conduct religious services; the chapel was being used as a confinement facility for Spanish prisoners. The post was a training camp for new recruits, who would later be assigned to Regular Army units, and the site of four hospitals. Nave was stationed there from 1 May to 15 September 1898. During that time between 2,000 and 4,000 troops were always stationed there, and a total of about 18,000 for the whole period. Moreover, the hospitals received a total of about 2,000 sick and wounded patients, most of them evacuated from Cuba. 26
Surveying the magnitude of his responsibilities, Nave initiated two projects. He "seated a grove” to accommodate 1,200 people and illuminated it evenings with gasoline torches. There he conducted a service every evening and three times on Sundays; between 300 and 1,200 persons attended each service. He reported that many men “entered into holy
covenants to serve God with all their hearts,” and that 115 joined various churches, 800 pledged total abstinence, and 1,000 vowed never to gamble. His other project was securing the support of Atlanta citizens for his ministry, and in that he was also successful. The Young Men's Christian Association furnished a secretary, a tent, tables, stationery, games, and reading material. Nave reported that the tent was always full of men. He also received valuable assistance from the Ministers' Alliance, which sent a minister to assist him. The Y.M.C.A. secretary and the minister probably helped him conduct the services in the grove. 27
Chaplain Nave also undertook a variety of other duties. He visited the hospitals to comfort the patients and restore “hope where it was failing.” He corresponded with relatives, friends, and the officers of the 70 men who died in the hospitals; in some cases, he arranged for the remains of the deceased to be shipped to the next-of-kin. He listened to the requests and complaints of the soldiers, offered them counsel, received and mailed some of their letters and packages, and ran errands for some in Atlanta. He solicited and distributed tons of magazines, newspapers, and books. His most unusual ministry, however, was the special diet kitchen which he, his wife, and his daughter operated for former hospital patients who were convalescing, and for others who were ill from minor disorders of the digestive system but not hospitalized. Nave gave tickets to the surgeons who issued them to men requiring special diets, and his wife and daughter fed them, a few at a time, in the Nave kitchen. They served toast, poached eggs, milk, tea, and coffee. 28
Mrs. Nave's kitchen soon became too small for the number who required the special diet, and the post commander designated a set of officers'
quarters as “Mrs. Nave's Kitchen.” With the additional space and the assistance of some Atlanta church women and officers' wives, Mrs. Nave then began to serve between 250 and 350 meals each day. Chaplain Nave initially solicited funds for the food from acquaintances in Atlanta and friends in other places. Later, however, the Red Cross offered to underwrite the expenses, and the additional income even made it possible for the special diets to be sent to certain patients in the hospitals. The kitchen was also renamed “Mrs. Nave's Red Cross Kitchen.” Nave reported that more than 1,000 invalid soldiers and 20,000 meals were served from the kitchen.29
Except for the special diet kitchen, Nave's ministry was not unlike that of other chaplains stationed in stateside camps and hospitals. William E. Biederwolf, a Volunteer chaplain with the 161st Indiana Infantry
Regiment, was stationed at the Third Division Hospital at Fort Fernandina, Florida. He made his base of operations a large tent, 50 by 80 feet, which he purchased with donations from the home towns of men in his unit. He furnished the tent with an organ, games, periodicals, books, and writing material which were given by the Christian Commission. In addition to conducting two Sunday services, and with the assistance of an evangelist from a nearby city, he held evening evangelistic services. He also arranged for occasional concerts and other activities in his tent. Fortunately, an enlisted man was assigned to assist him. The “most precious moments and glorious hours” of his wartime ministry were those spent with the 87 men from his regiment who were patients in the hospital. He visited them regularly, wrote letters for them, and gave them refreshments when the doctors allowed.30
Biederwolf apparently was not as successful as Nave, for even though he liked the camaraderie within the regiment, he was “not elated over his work." Acknowledging that much of a chaplain's work depends upon "what he makes it,' he believed that his efficiency “depends upon other things ... which nothing but the grace of God can remedy.” Two of the "other things' were the “anti
moral and anti-religious” qualities of army life. Still, however, he professed hope that the “ministrations ... among the sick and the dying, the friendships with the men, the words of counsel and the utterances from the place of worship were not in vain," and that even “results unseen below eternity will reveal in rich fruition.” 31
Curiously enough, another Volunteer chaplain stationed at the same hospital as Biederwolf, Edmund P. Easterbrook of the 2nd New York Infantry Regiment, found his chaplaincy as satisfying as it was demanding. If he was ever despondent or thought the Army to be “anti-moral and anti-religious,” he never mentioned it. The regimental commander and the hospital surgeons were so impressed with the manner in which he ministered to the "spiritual and temporal needs” of the patients that they favorably endorsed his application for a Regular Army chaplaincy. Both the chief and assistant surgeons commented that he relieved them of all correspondence with relatives of the patients, thus enabling them to devote more time to their professional duties. In addition to saying that Easterbrook heroically devoted himself to the sick, the commander made complimentary remarks about his youth, good physique, polished manners, superb education, friendliness with the enlisted men, and freedom from “bigoted sectarianism." 32
Regardless of their appraisals of their ministries and of army life, and
whatever the circumstances, chaplains did their best to fulfill their vocation. Upon arriving at Tampa on 27 May 1898, Leslie R. Groves of the 8th Infantry Regiment found that the American Bible Society had distributed thousands of New Testaments through the Y.M.C.A. at no cost, and that the Y.M.C.A. had established a religious program in the various camps and welcomed assistance from chaplains enroute to Cuba. In the Eighth’s camp four services were held in the Y.M.C.A. tabernacle on Sundays and two on weekdays; Groves was spared the bother of arranging a suitable place to hold services for the 11 days that he was there. On his first evening in Tampa, he assisted a Y.M.C.A. worker in a service, and at 1000 hours each day, he and Chaplain Ruter Springer conducted a service together. While the regiment was aboard the Transport Seneca for a week in Tampa Bay, awaiting orders to proceed to Cuba, he conducted Sunday morning and evening services, and both were well attended “by necessity,” the ship being so crowded. *3
The chaplains who went to Cuba quickly learned the difference between being a post chaplain and a chaplain in combat. Describing the landing at Daiquiri on 22 June 1898, Chaplain Groves said that the sharp cracking of Navy guns bombarding the landing area and the anticipation of battle stirred much excitement throughout the ship. Fortunately, however, the Spanish were elsewhere, and United States forces made the landing without incident. Shortly thereafter, Groves was marching with his unit toward Siboney. When the regiment stopped for the night-hungry, thirsty, and tired—he learned that there was no food or water, and no blankets or hammocks; everyone spent a miserable night trying to sleep on cold, wet ground. At breakfast the next morning, they fared a little better; they were able to drink some milk from a few green coconuts. Later in the day, they did get some food and light wine in Siboney, and that night they were able to sleep under shelter. But it took a few days for their supplies to catch up with the regiment. 34
Groves was introduced to combat when "bullets began falling all about” on 1 July at the battle of El Caney. The regimental surgeon, with whom he was walking, shouted, “Let's get out of here. We are no use when we are dead." Chaplain Groves agreed, but they did not go far. They discovered a wounded man lying next to them, and their work began. They set up a dressing station nearby, gathered the wounded, and worked continually for the next 24 hours. Reflecting later on those hours, Groves said that there may be a fascination in battle for ... a trained soldier, but