THE BLACK ROBED REGIMENT
It was not just the politician and soldier that pursued independence from
. Many of the clergy at
the time of the American Revolution spoke out fearlessly from their pulpits
about freedom and the need to oppose oppression by the crown. These patriot
pastors, referred to as “The Black Robed Regiment” by the British, contributed to
the advancement of independence by their calls for fasting, prayers, patriotic
sermons, and sometimes by actually serving in the military. These are only a
few of the patriotic pastors: Great Britain
James Caldwell: “The Fighting Chaplain”
- pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethtown, was speaking out against the actions of the crown in the early 1770’s. He pleaded to the Virginia Legislature for religious liberty when restrictions were placed on churches. In April, 1775,
was serving on a
committee that formally urged the Presbyterian churches to support the
rebellion making him a target for revenge. He was elected chaplain of the Third
New Jersey Brigade under Colonel Elias Dayton, a member of his own congregation.
In 1780 British and German forces raided Elizabeth Town, burning the Presbyterian Church and the courthouse.
wanted to move his wife
and children to a safer location; however, Hannah stayed behind with her two
youngest children, possibly because she felt safer in their home than traveling.
The older children were sent to stay with friends in another town. Several
churches and buildings were burned and Hannah Caldwell was killed when she was shot
through the chest by a redcoat through a window of their house. Caldwell
During a battle near
, when Americans were
taking many losses, they ran out of the paper critical in rolling the powder
for their muskets. Reverend James Caldwell ran into a Presbyterian Church and
gathered as many “Watts” hymnals as he could manage and handed them out to the
troops, shouting “Give ‘em Watts, boys!” His patriotic and memorable comment
did not hold off the siege of Springfield , but it was remembered
and retold often. Springfield
- was a Congregationalist minister in
known for leading a
group of irregulars in combat during the Revolution. Massachusetts
- became pastor of the Congregational church at
in 1773. Also a trained
surgeon, Avery furnished his own medicine and instruments to supplement the
Army's supplies. He was made chaplain of Col. Patterson's regiment in 1775 and
later became chaplain of the fourth Massachusetts Brigade. He served at the
battle of Windsor, Massachusetts Bunker
Noodle's Island, and the siege of . His congregation was
supportive when he asked to be released from his pastorate in 1777, feeling it
was his duty to remain in the army. After the war, he began preaching again and
was a missionary to the New York Indians. New York
Rev. Jonas Clarke
His home was the destination when Paul Revere made his famous ride. As minister, Clarke not only had insight on what was happening in the colonies, but John Hancock and Samuel Adams were at his parsonage on when the
towns of Massachusetts and Lexington came under fire. He expressed
his views in the pulpit and in prayer — he knew a minister had a powerful
- a Baptist pastor, Backus and others realized that the search for religious liberty was tied to the search for political liberty. In 1774 Backus, and others approached the First Continental Congress to gain their support to fight for religious liberty. John Adams, Sam Adams and others accused them of using a minor issue to divide the colonies while they were advancing the cause for political liberty. When the revolution began, Baptists joined the patriot cause believing it would also lead to religious liberty. On the Sunday following the Battle of Lexington, Backus preached a sermon encouraging resistance to the crown which resulted in many enlisting in the revolutionary army.
He served as pastor of the Brattle Street Church, in Boston, Massachusetts 1747-1783. Members of his parish included John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, and others.
Pastor of the First Church in Danbury, Connecticut. Mr. Baldwin was noted for his passion to enlighten his parishioners to danger they faced in losing their liberty. In November, 1775, he preached a motivating sermon hoping to wake up the people to the significance of the struggle in which they were engaged.
My question is this: Is there still a Black Robed Regiment in our nation, or has political correctness, and laws which inhibit free speech, silenced individuals called to publicly pronounce the Truth of God’s Word?
Come back to this blog August 25th to learn about the pastor who took his sermon from the third chapter of Ecclesiastes, then removed his clerical robe revealing his Colonel’s uniform, and led many of his congregation to enlist in the patriot cause.