Army Chaplain Corps celebrates 248th anniversary

By Paul StampsJuly 29, 2023

Army Chaplain Corps celebrates 248th anniversary
U.S. Army Institute for Religious Leadership Deputy Director and Commandant, Chaplain (Col.) James Palmer Jr. and Command Sgt. Maj. Evelin Montealegre, along with Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Bill Green, the U.S. Army deputy chief of chaplains, and Regimental Sergeant Major Meaghan Bicklein, cut the Chaplain Corps 248th birthday cake during the Chaplain Corps Regimental Ball on July 27, 2023. (Photo Credit: Paul Stamps, U.S. Army Chaplain Corps) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT JACKSON, S.C. – On July 29, the U.S. Army commemorates the 248th anniversary of its Chaplain Corps, one of the oldest branches in the Army.

The Continental Congress established the Chaplain Corps on July 29, 1775, at the request of General George Washington. The Congress authorized one ordained chaplain, at the rank of captain, for each regular regiment. Many colonial militia regiments also counted chaplains among their ranks. 218 chaplains served the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.

The Chaplain Corps preceded the Constitution and its amendments by several years, but the Corps is a product of our Nation’s fundamental commitment to religious freedom, and its recognition that religion plays an integral role in the lives of many of America’s Soldiers.

Chaplain Corps Impact

“The impact the Chaplain Corps has made on the Army, our Soldiers, and families must not be understated,” said Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Bill Green, the deputy chief of chaplains for the U.S. Army. “Since the War for Independence, chaplains have served in every American Conflict.”

Since its beginnings, the Chaplain Corps has evolved and diversified along with the rest of the Army. Today, the Chaplain Corps represents five major faith groups and nearly 120 religious denominations.

Roman Catholic Chaplains were added to the Corps’ Protestant Chaplains during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848); Jewish and African-American Chaplains were added during the American Civil War (1861-1865); the first female to be commissioned as a chaplain was in 1974; the first Muslim chaplain was in 1993; the first Buddhist chaplain was in 2009; and the first Hindu chaplain was in 2011.

Today’s Total Force Army Chaplain Corps includes approximately 3,015 chaplains, 2,800 religious affairs specialists, 540 chaplain candidates, 50 directors of religious education, and 90 other Department of the Army Civilians.

“The soul care and religious support our Chaplain Corps has been providing for nearly 250 years will remain a critical contributor to our Nation’s success on the battlefields of the future,” Green said. “We have a lot to be proud of, and a lot to look forward to as we continue transforming to meet the needs of the Army in 2030 and beyond!