The U.S. military has had chaplains almost from its inception. The official start of the military chaplaincy is widely considered to be July 29, 1775. On this day, Congress recognized chaplains in the national army with a standing equal to that of captain and a monthly pay of $20.
Perhaps it was the actions of early chaplains that persuaded Congress to recognize their service in this way. Three months earlier, one Revolutionary War chaplain had impressed General George Washington with his selfless and tireless devotion to the troops. David Avery, a pastor from Vermont, served as captain of a group of his parishioners, bringing them down to Cambridge, Massachusetts, in April 1775 after the Battle of Lexington and Concord. There, they were assigned to a regiment and Rev. Avery became a full-time chaplain. Two months later, he saw combat at the Battle of Bunker Hill. For his service, Chaplain Avery was lauded as:
"Intrepid and fearless in battle, Unwearied in his attentions to the sick and wounded—not only nursing them with care, but as faithful to their souls as if they were of his own parish—with a love for his country so strong that it became a passion—cheerful under privations, and ready for any hardship—never losing in the turmoil of camp that warmth and glowing piety which characterizes the devoted minister of God."
Chaplains have continued serving our country, in peacetime and in war, their courage and selflessness noted and recognized time and again. Thank you again for your service, chaplains!