Army Reserve chaplain highlights Soldiers' sacrifices in new Civil War novel
February 11, 2011
Chap. (Maj.) Charles Causey, deputy command chaplain of the 99th Regional Support Command, recently published, "In Danger Every Hour: A Civil War Novel," an endeavor he calls "a dream come true."
"I was deployed to Baghdad with 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division as the brigade chaplain from summer 2006 to fall 2007," said Causey, who was born at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. "I had been studying the Civil War for about 10 years, and it went from reading for pleasure to studying biographies and reading journals of key figures in that conflict. I decided during the deployment that I wanted to write a Civil War novel."
Causey said his reading and research sparked more than just an academic interest in the Civil War period.
"I developed a real love for the people and the hardships they had to go through," said Causey, who earned a Master of Divinity degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago in 2003. "I teach resiliency to Soldiers at Yellow Ribbon events, and it made me think of how people had to have that quality back then. They were marching in snow with strips of leather wrapped around their feet instead of actual shoes. Quartermasters couldn't keep up with the needs of the Soldiers, which also meant they sometimes would go two or three days without eating."
Causey, who has served in the U.S. Army for more than 20 years as a logistics officer and chaplain, said he sees an obvious connection between his role as a chaplain and his heart for the needs of Soldiers serving in combat in the 19th century.
"I have counseled with Soldiers through not just physical-needs issues, but also issues of comfort, loneliness, fatigue, depression, personal relationship conflicts and conflicts with superiors in their command," he said. "One of the most important things Soldiers deal with in war is missing their families and not being there to directly care for them."
Soldiers were just as concerned for their families during the Civil War as they are today, and that shapes his mission as a chaplain, Causey said.
"It has always been true that the family has the heart and mind of the Soldier," said Causey, who also holds bachelor's degrees in molecular biology from the University of Colorado in Boulder and biochemistry from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. "You can't heal the Soldier without healing the family."
Causey, who also serves as director of the Strong Bonds program for 99th RSC, works daily to bring healing to both Soldiers and their families.
"We do over 40 Strong Bonds events a year all over our region, and this is because we want to reach as many Soldiers and family members as we can to bring that healing," said Causey. "The skills we teach and coach at these retreats is part of that resiliency picture. Soldiers have to be strong and stay focused in combat. Spouses and children have to have those same qualities while their Soldier is deployed, and also after they return."
Strong Bonds is a commander's program, and the 99th RSC serviced a total of 2,100 Soldiers, spouses and children in fiscal year 2010. There was no such program in place during the Civil War to help with the issues families have during combat deployment.
Causey, whose father Calvin was also a U.S. Army chaplain and served in the Vietnam War, brought these issues into focus in his novel.
"The story of "In Danger Every Hour" is set in Winchester, Va., a town that changed hands between the Union and Confederacy over 20 times during the war," he said. "Women and children bore the brunt of the war in this town and small Virginia towns like this one while their men fought."
According to Causey's website, www.indangereveryhour.com, the novel is "an unforgettable story...where several school friends once played along a creek and a stone wall. When war breaks out they are forced to choose which side they will fight for and who their friends and enemies will be. Riley, Ned and Molly go one way while Bruce, Moss, Jonesy and the newly married Henry go the other."
While this novel is a dream come true for Causey, his efforts as a chaplain represent something more: a mission and a calling.