Holy War & Gawd's Work
"We changed camp several times, finally settling down near the river and about three miles west of the town. An incident occuring there gave rise to a story that grew to fabulous proportions, mulitplying converts to Christianity and the Baptist persuasion, until it bore to our Northern homes the glad tidings that entire regiments had enlisted in the army of the Lord. The way it began was this. Our chaplain, the Reverend George Bullen, baptized in the chill autumnal waters of the Potomac two men of our regiment, who had confessed their faith before they had left home. A few days later, Chaplain Bullen paid his respects to Colonel Coulter at brigade headquarters; and, declining as superfluous the customary social appetizer of old Bourbon, he told the colonel all about the baptisms. He dwelt upon the probable good effects, both godly and militarily; the men, he felt sure, would be the more amendable to orders and discipline; he had not omitted, he said, to remind them that they should render unto Caesar. Now it happened that Colonel Colulter, though commanding the brigade, was jealously attentive to the growing reputation of his regiment. He interrupted suddenly:
'How many men did you say you dipped, Chaplain?'
'I baptized two, Colonel.'
'Orderly!' The colonel's tone was peremptory. 'Tell my adjutant to detail a sergeant to take a man from each company down to the river and baptize them in the Methodist persuasion. I can't allow any damned Baptist to supplant my authority, either spiritual or temporal.'"
There is another story concerning Colonel Coulter and his chaplains.
"Just where we took up our position in line, a rail fence was found to be much in the way of the dismounted officers directing us. Colonel Coulter, after jumping it several times, turned to my clerk, Dwight Maxfield, who was wearing a Burnside blouse, and said to him sharply:
'Here, Chaplain, make yourself useful and tear down this 'rip-gut' fence!'
'Beg pardon, Colonel,' said Max, 'but I'm not one of that useful class. I'm only an adjutant's clerk.'
'Good God! I took you for a chaplain. Where are they?'
'That group on the knoll,' said Max, pointing, 'are spoiling for the chance.'
The colonel spurred to the group on the knoll.
'Pull down that fence!'
'But, Colonel, we are chaplains!'
'I don't care a god damn. Double quick! By God, you'll do something to earn your salaries as long as I command this brigade!'
The chaplains took down the fence."
Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt. Molon Labe!