Meet Henry M. Turner: First African American Army Chaplain

Henry M. TurnerOn September 10, 1863, Henry M. Turner became the first African American commissioned as a military chaplain. Turner, the pastor of Israel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, DC, offered up his church as a recruiting depot during the Civil War. It was there that the first volunteers signed up for a local regiment that was soon designated as the 1st Regiment, U.S. Colored Troops. As soon as the unit started training on a nearby island in the Potomac, Turner visited often to preach and to encourage the men. Recommended by both the colonel of the regiment and his AME denomination, Turner applied to be the regiment’s chaplain in July 1863. President Lincoln approved the appointment in September. Others soon followed after Turner’s appointment; a total of 14 African American served as chaplains during the Civil War.” —Source, emphasis added

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