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The Physical Cost of Spiritual Work

"The physical price that chaplains paid was enormous. Although most of them did not lose their lives on the battlefield, as did thousands of the soldiers, a few of them did. Others were wounded while ministering in the same venue. When soldiers had opportunities to rest in camp, that was when and where the chaplains had to exert their greatest efforts and expend the greatest amount of their energies. They often labored late into the night, preparing sermons, organizing Bible study lessons, writing letters to churches and soldiers' parents and wives and other loved ones, and laboring in prayer before the Lord for the spiritual needs of the soldiers in their care. Physical exhaustion was the rule rather than the exception for chaplains."

"Chaplains also engaged in far more than sermon preaching, baptizing, and other duties connected directly to their preaching ministry. Those duties included visiting the sick and wounded wherever they were, whether in the hospitals, on the battlefield following a battle, or even on the battlefield amid battle. Noncombatant chaplains were then in as great a danger of being killed or wounded as were the 'fighting chaplains' and the common soldier."

"Chaplains, not unlike the common soldiers and even many officers, did not get many opportunities to go home or otherwise get away from camp life, marches, or battle. Whenever they were so fortunate as to be granted some time anyway, it was not only welcome but also usually packed with activity, and a good percentage of the time was spent in traveling, often. Often, the chaplains' time off was not for rest or time with family but on chaplain or church organizational business."

"For a chaplain, evangelist, or colporteur to have a lasting positive spiritual impression on the soldiers, each minister had to attend to his own spiritual condition."

The preceding quotations are excerpts from Christ in Camp and Combat: Religious Work in the Confederate Armies by Dennis L. Peterson and available at . Get your own copy today. Get another copy to share with someone you know who is interested in the War Between the States and the work of the chaplains, missionaries, and colporteurs during that conflict.

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