The First Baptist Chaplain
1820 – FIRST BAPTIST CHAPLAIN TO THE AMERICAN MILITARY AND FIRST BAPTIST MISSIONARY TO THE INDIANS – David Jones died at age 84 on February 5, 1820. He had been an author, pastor, missionary, medical doctor, and the first Baptist pastor ever to become a chaplain in the American Military who in 1776 was appointed to serve Col. St. Clair’s regiment. He also served under General Horatio Gates and General Anthony Wayne. He was highly trusted by Gen. Geo. Washington and preached to the troops at Valley Forge. He was raised in a hearty Welsh Baptist family, saved at an early age and trained at Hopewell Academy (America’s First Baptist academic facility) in N.J. He studied medicine but apparently was influenced by the life of David Brainerd among the Indians because while pastoring the Freehold Baptist Church in Monmouth County, N.J. he became the first Baptist missionary to the Indians in Ohio on two extended tours that consumed over a year. He became unpopular as he supported the cause of American freedom. In April 1775 he became pastor of the Great Valley Baptist Church in Chester County, PA. On July 20, 1775, after a day of fasting and prayer he preached to the Continental Army on the subject, “Defensive War in a Just Cause Sinless.” In 1776 he left his flock to serve the first of three tours with the American forces. He was at Ticonderoga, Morristown, and Brandywine. He barely missed being killed at the Paoli Massacre, and he spent the winter at Valley Forge. Gen. Howe offered a reward for his capture. He was at Yorktown at the surrender of Cornwallis. He used his medical skills as well as his weapons. After the war he went with Gen. Wayne as Chaplain to the Indian War from 1794-96 and was there at the Treaty of Greenville. It was said of him, “In danger – he knew no fear, in fervent patriotism he had no superiors and few equals, in the Revolutionary struggle, a tower of strength…as a Christian, above reproach.”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 49.
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Brigade Chaplain for Gen. Washington
1805 – HEZEKIAH SMITH – BRIGADE-CHAPLAIN FOR GENERAL WASHINGTON AND ONE OF THE FOUNDERS OF BROWN U. Pg. 29 – Hezekiah Smith died on January 22, 1805. He was born in April 1737 at Long Island, N.Y. He graduated from Princeton in 1762. He went into the field of evangelism and went into the South where he traveled over 4,000 miles and preached 173 sermons in 15 months. He helped establish Rhode Island College which later became Brown University. In 1765 he established a Baptist church in Haverhill, Mass. and was publicly recognized Nov. 12, 1766 and served faithfully for forty years. He was one of six Baptist chaplains that served in the Revolutionary War and was brigade-chaplain for Gen. Washington. After his tour of duty he returned to the Haverhill church. He founded the Mass. Baptist Missionary Society, the first Missions Society in America and the deciding factor in the founding of the Warren Association also.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon; adapted from: Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson
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A courage that honored God
1944 – According to Winston Churchill, was the day that the Nijmegen Bridge over the Waal-Rhine River in Holland, the longest bridge in Europe, fell into American hands in World War II. Baptist Chaplain Captain Delbert Kuehl tells of the heroism of Henry, a nineteen year old Baptist paratrooper. Because of his Christian witness Henry had been given the nickname of “chaplain” of “H” company, and some less honorable names as well. The Germans were caught by surprise, but as the Americans reached the water, they opened fire. Many of our soldiers were hit by machine gun and mortar fire including Henry. However Henry, ignoring his wounds ministered to the fallen soldiers. Chaplain Kuehl insisted on Henry leaving in one of the boats which he did but then the Chaplain was surprised to see him back again, head bandaged, to assist others to get across even in the midst of heavy fire. He helped load one more man into the boat, and then collapsed, being weakened by loss of blood. At that time Henry, who was semi-conscious, was loaded into the boat and taken back to the friendly side of the river. Chaplain Kuehl said, “I shall never forget the courage of this young Christian Paratrooper—a courage that caused every fighting man to marvel and a courage that honored God.” [Winston S. Churchill, Triumph and Tragedy (Cambridge: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1953), p 198. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 515-17]
Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon