Pastors Who Fought in the Revolutionary War
This list is by no means complete, but is meant to give a sampling of ministers and elders who actively participated in the fight for liberty.
Dr. Samuel Provost, first Bishop of New York
Dr. John Croes, first Bishop of New Jersey
Robert Smith, first Bishop of South Carolina
General Morgan, Cowpens
General Pickens, Cowpens
Colonel Campbell, King's Mountain
Colonel Williams, King's Mountain
Colonel Cleaveland, King's Mountain
Colonel Shelby, King's Mountain
Colonel Sevier, King's Mountain
Captain James Hall, North Carolina
Adam Boyd, North Carolina
James Armstrong, Maryland
James Caldwell, New Jersey
The supreme knight and the great martyr of Presbyterianism, was pastor James Caldwell of the Presbyterian Church of Elizabeth, New Jersey, "the Rebel High Priest," "the Fighting Chaplain." He has been made famous by the story "Give 'em Watts!" It is told that at the Springfield engagement when the militia ran out of wadding for their muskets, Parson Caldwell, galloped to the Presbyterian Church, and returning with an armload of hymn-books, threw them on the ground, exclaiming, "Now, boys, give 'em Watts! Give 'em Watts!"... To add to the fame of Caldwell, the British made martyrs of both himself and his wife. General Knyphausen's expedition took Elizabeth in 1780, burning Caldwell's church and shooting his wife. Later they shot Caldwell himself, claiming that it was by mistake.
Nationalism and Religion in America, Humphrey; 1924, 1966; pp. 102, 104
General Nicholas Herkimer
Baron Frederick William von Steuben
John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, Virginia
Muhlenberg was a pastor of a church at Woodstock, Virginia, at the opening of hostilities. When the news of Bunker Hill reached Virginia, he reminded his congregation that there was a time to preach and a time to fight; as for him, the time to preach was past.
"It is now," he cried, "the time to fight"; and throwing off his vestments he stood forth in the garb of a Virginia colonel.
His brother having remonstrated with him for his enlistment, he wrote:
"You may say that as a clergyman nothing can excuse my conduct. I am a clergyman, it is true, but I am a member of society as well as the poorest layman, and my liberty is as dear to me as any man. I am called by my country to its defence. The cause is just and noble. Were I a Bishop.....I should obey without hesitation; and as far am I from thinking that I am wrong, I am convinced it is my duty so to do - a duty I owe to my God and my Country."
In February, 1777, John Muhlenberg became a brigadier-general in the Continental Army; in September 1783, he was a breveted major-general. He took part in the battles of Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth; at Yorktown he commanded the first brigade. He was a member of the Virginia Convention of 1776; later he was vice-president of the supreme-executive council of Pennsylvania and he represented that state both in the House and in the Senate of the United States.
Nationalism and Religion in America, Humphrey; 1924, 1966; pp. 114-115
Colonel Joab Houghton, New Jersey
Colonel Houghton was in the Hopewell Baptist Meeting-house, at worship, when he received the first information of Concord and Lexington, and of the retreat of the British to Boston with such heavy loss. His great-grandson gives the following eloquent description of the way he treated the tidings:
"Stilling the breathless messenger he sat quietly through the services, and when they were ended, he passed out, and mounting the great stone block in front of the meeting-house he beckoned to the people to stop. Men and women paused to hear, curious to know what so unusual a sequel to the service ofthe day could mean. At the first words a silence, stern as death, fell over all. The Sabbath quiet of the hour and of the place was deepened into a terrible solemnity. He told them all the story of the cowardly murder at Lexington by the royal troops; the heroic vengeance following hard upon it; the retreat of Percy; the gathering of the children of the Pilgrims round the beleaguered hills of Boston; then pausing, and looking over the silent throng, he said slowly : 'Men of New Jersey, the red coats are murdering our brethren of New England! Who follows me to Boston?' and every man of that audience stepped out into line, and answered 'I!' There was not a coward or a traitor in old Hopewell Baptist Meeting-house that day."
Baptists and the American Revolution, Cathcart; 1876 rev. 1976; p. 56-57
Pastor M'Clanahan, of Culpepper County, Virginia, rasied a military company of Baptists and served on the field, both as a captain and chaplian.
Reverend David Barrow shouldered his musket and showed how fields were won. The Baptist, General Scriven, when ordered by the British officer to give up Sunbury, near Savannah, sent back the answer, "Come and get it."
Deacon Mills, of the First Baptist Church of Philadelphia, commanded skilfully one thousand riflemen at the battle of Long Island and for his valor was made a Brigadier General. Deacon Loxley, of the same church, commanded the artillery a the battle of Germantown with the rank of Colonel.
Add to this galaxy John Hart, who signed the Declaration of Independence, and John Brown, whose fleet of privately owned vessels atacked the Gaspee which had entered Narragansett Bay to enforce British revenue customes. Lieutenant Duddington was wounded, the other officers and the crew left and the Gaspee was blown up. This was the first British blood shed in the War of Independence.
In their list of Tory sympathizers made up by Judge Curwen appear nine hundred and twenty six names living in America, and a larger number were already exiled by Colonial law, but there is not the name of one Baptist on the list. This is why President Washington, in his letter to the Baptists, could pay them the just tribute: "I recolect with satisfaction that the religious societies of which you are a member have been, throughout America, uniformly and almost unanimously, the firm friends to civil liberty, and the persevering promoters of our glorious Revolution." It explains how Thomas Jefferson could write to a Baptist Church, "We have acted together from the origin to the end of a memorable Revolution."
The People called Baptists by George W. McDaniel; 1918
Throughout our history pastors and ministers have led the fight for liberty from both the pulpit and battlefield. The great Sam Houston of Texas was a Baptist lay leader and no less than five ministers fought with the elite Rough Riders alongside Teddy Roosevelt during the Spanish-American War.