Our March speaker, Rev. Dr. Alan Andraeas, presented “Shepherd’s of the Sea: Civil War Naval Chaplains.” Rev. Andraeas covered the evolution of navy chaplains, including Rev. Benjamin Balch (the “fighting parson”), who served as the first chaplain in the Continental Navy and his son, William Balch, the U. S. Navy’s first commissioned Chaplain. The presentation followed the evolution from appointed chaplains to the Chaplain Corps, as well as the regulations that authorized and directed chaplains during this period.
Rev. Andraeas also discussed the evolving duties of chaplains and the role the Christian Commission took to supplement the chaplains’ work during the Civil War. There was also some interesting trivia: the Confederate Navy had no chaplains on their vessels and, the only pennant allowed to fly above the U.S. flag is the Chaplain’s Pennant, indicating a service was being held.