Pay of chaplains.
--We suppose that the first act of the Confederate Congress establishing the office of chaplain, and fixing the pay of that officer, was intended to make suitable provision for the spiritual wants of the soldiers, as is done in the United States
and every army of the old world.
It is true the pay was not large — not as large even as that in the service of Virginia
and North Carolina
, which States paid their chaplains a hundred and fifty dollars a month.
The Confederate Congress fixed the pay at $85 per month, or $1,820 a year.
This amount, however, was accepted by many clergymen, some of them eminent men in their vocation, having large families dependent upon them, in the spirit of selfsacrifice universal in the South
, who gave up much larger salaries and the comparative ease of ordinary ministerial duties for the hardships and labors of camp life.
It was barcly possible, at the high rates of living prevailing throughout the country, for a gentleman to support a family on this amount in the rural districts, and quite impossible in a city.
But what shall be said of the last act of Congress reducing this inadequate salary, but little more than half the salary of chaplains under the Virginia
and North Carolina
Governments, to the pitiful sum of fifty dollars a month, or six hundred dollars a year?
We are not surprised to learn that this last act — which might be entitled ‘"An act to abolish the office of chaplain in the Confederate Army
"’--has been followed by the resignation of some of the most valuable chaplains in the service — gentlemen of high character, solid learning, and every way qualified for their responsible positions; but who, of course, and it utterly impossible, if they would keep their wives and children out of the almshouse, to retain their present positions.
We take it for granted that in establishing this offire, the Confederate Government inrended in good faith to recognize the real spiritual necessities of humanity, especially in an army, where men are exposed to great trials of mind and body, and are in the constant presence of death.
Every Government in the world appreciates the powerful influence of religion in exalting the human soul, in insparing it to duty, in making it to disdain danger and welcome death, rather than sacrifice principle and duty.
Even the false faith of Mahomet imparts to Turkish soldiers a des-Peration of valor which they could have acquired from no other scurce, and the fanaticism of the Roundheads gave them a degree of military vigor and persistency to which most of their successes in the field may be attributed.
We find the descendants of these people endeavoring to revive and invigorate that source of the strength of their forefathers, and aclually republishing for the use of their own volunteers Oliver Cromwell
's selections from the Holy Scriptures
Surely, at such a time, we should not diminish the efficiency of the religious element in our own army even if we look at it only as a means of giving increasing vigor and energy to our arms.
It is a penny wise and pound foolish policy so to reduce the clerical salaries as to com the most valuable of the married clergy to brave the army.
There will be scores of men compelled to resign, under this reduction, whom it would be economy to retain at double the first summer.
Who can estimate the value to the morals and happiness of a regiment of a highly educated and high-minded gentlemen whose experience and character will enable him to be the guide counsellor and of the five thousand young and impulsive by whom he is surrounded?
What parent with a son in such a regiment, would increase of taxation which would be necessary to ensure his son and experienced guardian and sympathizing friend in battle, and a faithful in at the bed of death.
In start can be rendered by chaplains of intelligence and character, which without references, their clerical duties would be worth the whole amount of their salaries.
They could visit the hospitals, and ex which is impossible for the attending whose is sufficiently occupied possessions event from performing . the chaplain's daily presence in these institutions would not only be a source of inexpressable satisfaction and comfort to those brave men, whose hearts have been opened by the hand of disease and the hazard of death to spiritual ministrations, but any neglect of their physical comfort and worse than neglect, any harsh and brutal treatment would never be attempted in the face of a watchful, influential, and systematic visitation.
All these considerations sustain the policy as well as justice of restoring the pay of chaplains to its former rate, the only one which will command the services of clergymen, having families to support, who are competent to perform the dutree.
We have not dwelt upon the subject in its purely religious aspect, but, if the ministry are, indeed, ‘"ambassadors of Heaven,"’ it is scareely consistent with the memorable and emphatic recognition by Congress of the interposition of the Divine Power
in our behalf in every victory and in every event of this contest, to manifest its gratitude by depriving.
His representatives of their daily bread.
We may add that in a nation, one-fourth of whose population are profeasors of religion, and an army having in it a larger proportion of religious men than any other army in the world, public sentiment will universally sustain the course of justice and of policy which we advocate.