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UP FROM HANDYMEN
THE UNITED STATES
Earl F. Stover
OFFICE OF THE CHIEF OF CHAPLAINS
WASHINGTON, D.C. 1977
This volume is one of a series of five prepared by various authors, designed to be useful and instructive regarding the long history of the United States Army Chaplaincy. The emphasis throughout is on how Chaplains did their ministry in the contexts of both war and peace. The series seeks to present as full and as balanced an account as limitations of space and research time permit. The bibliography in each volume offers opportunities for further research leading to detailed studies, articles, monographs, and perhaps even volumes regarding persons, developments, and events of the periods concerned. No attempt has been made to express any specific point of view or to make policy recommendations. The contents of each volume represent the work of the individual author and do not represent the official view of the United States Government.
An effort has been made to make this volume as complete and factual as possible. In the light of new information and developments, there may be modifications required concerning the material, interpretations, and conclusions presented. Such corrections, additions, and suggestions as readers may have are welcome for use in future revisions; they should be addressed to:
Director of Support
Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island, NY 10305
After the completion of the demobilization and reorganization of the Army following the Civil War, the chaplaincy consisted of a few the Adjutant General of the Army. With a few notable exceptions, they received their assignments from and submitted their monthly reports to the Adjutant General of the Army. With a few notable exceptions, they were merely tolerated. Their commanders burdened them with a variety of additional duties unrelated to their vocation. Writing about the chaplains of the 1886–1917 period, General John J. Pershing said that they were regarded as handymen. By 1920, however, most chaplains received respect, and the War Department encouraged commanders by regulations to let the chaplains be chaplains. The chaplaincy became a professional branch within the Army and was headed by a chaplain whose title was “Chief of Chaplains.”
The purpose of my study is to ascertain if the evolution of the chaplaincy into a professional branch of the Army was the result of happenstance or effective ministry. To that end I focus upon the ministry of the chaplains. I have attempted to present objective and readable answers to the questions: What did the chaplains do and say? How was their ministry received?
Sometime after I began my research, it became obvious to me that certain people and organizations did for the chaplaincy and the spiritual care of the Army community what the chaplains, for various reasons, were unable to do. Thus I wrote about the ministries of Dr. Charles F. E. Minnigerode to Jefferson Davis at Fort Monroe; of missionaries and other clergymen in the West; of organizations such as the American Bible Society and the Young Men's Christian Association; and of religious groups such as the Protestant-oriented Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America, the Roman Catholic predecessor of the Military Ordinariate, and the Jewish Welfare Board. The fact that I dealt with them briefly does not indicate that their contribution to the religious life of the Army community was insignificant, but rather that my attention was centered on the chaplains.
Looking back at the ministry of chaplains during World War I and