The Fighting Parson

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CHARLOTTE – The role of a pastor is not easily defined.  The Bible makes clear the qualifications required, but the potential responsibilities are many and could vary greatly depending upon the times involved.  During the American Revolution, the British derisively referred to clergymen as the “Black Robed Regiment” because of the Redcoats’ well-reasoned belief that the obstinance of the colonists was instigated and perpetuated from the pulpit.

Reverend James Caldwell certainly personified the British stereotype and earned the moniker; the “Fighting Parson”.  He was a militia leader in New Jersey.  In the Battle of Springfield, the American soldiers were running out of wadding.  Caldwell understood the critical nature of the need and began passing out hymnals produced by well-known theologian, Isaac Watts.  A painting commemorating the event shows Caldwell calling out “Give ‘em Watts, Boys!”

Caldwell was “most wanted” by the enemy.  One night, they shot through the window of his house, killing his wife.  The tragic event only strengthened Caldwell’s resolve.  He was known to fight battles during the week and preach on Sundays with two pistols laying on top of his large pulpit bible.  Caldwell was later killed by an American Sentry because Caldwell refused to allow inspection of a package.  The Sentry was later hanged for murder amid rumors that he had been bribed by the British to kill Caldwell.

The influence of Pastors for the unification of American patriots in their cause against tyranny cannot be overstated.  Although the circumstances are different, the core issues remain the same through today.  Our government must fulfill its God ordained mission to protect, not infringe upon, the unalienable rights of the American citizens and our pastors can provide critical leadership to ensure that result.

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