332 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington Dec. 27, 1861
My dear Sir,
I rec'd yesterday yr letters of the 23rd & 24th Inst. and was glad to hear that my proceedings have met with yr approval. Next week I will call on Senator Harris and inquire why he has not presented yr petition.
There was one death among the Jewish soldiers in the Hospitals this week. He belonged
to a Pennsylvania Regt. and at once information of his decease was telegraphed to his
relatives, who will be here today to take his body to their city. I passed three days this
week in the camp of Genl. Banks' army. It takes considerable time to reach that station,
as there is no direct route, and I have consequently to go first to the Relay House near
Baltimore, thence to Monocacy Junction, where we change cars for Frederic and from that
place stages run to the various encampments, which makes the journey as expensive as it is
disagreeable. I found in that division some of my former parishioners and other New York
of respectability, with whom I left my address, so that they can
telegraph to me, if my presence should be wanted. There was a meeting held this week by
the "Young Men's Christian Association", which being private I could not attend,
but the following information in regard to its proceedings has reached me. It appears that
a deputation from other Christian associations has arrived here to cooperate with the
former in reference to army chaplains. They complain that the law is not sufficiently
stringent to ensure a decent class of Ministers for that office, that in some regiments no
religious service is held etc. In this, they are perfectly right, as I know one N.Y. regt.
which has been about seven months in active service, and no General service has been
performed on any Sunday since their organisation, which is no strong argument in favor of
"Christian chaplains". However, they suggested that the law should specify what
the duties of the chaplains are, that they should be bound to have weekly services etc. In
the course of discussion, my proposed amendment of the act was alluded to, and a general
impression provided that the word "Christian" should be retained and that they
should use all their influence to that effect. It was suggested that in case the claims of
the Jews be strongly advocated, a provision might be made in their favor by allowing
Jewish chaplains for regiments exclusively composed of Jews, but even this, few were
prepared to agree to. I believe myself, that their bigotry will not prevail, as I have
made too much headway.
At the same time, you must bear in mind, that, if even the word "Christian" be omitted, there is no chance of my getting an appointment, as the Jewish soldiers are in a minority in each regiment. All that we shall have gained by such an amendment, will be our equality in the eye of the law. In a few weeks, we shall see, what changes the President proposes in the law, perhaps some definite provisions may be made in favor of Jewish soldiers. You will, however, understand, that it will take some months before the bill passes through both houses of Congress and receives the signature of the President. For this reason, the Board of Delegates ought to strain every nerve to obtain sufficient funds to keep me here until that period. I cannot afford to incur those expenses on my own account, and it will not do for the Board to stop halfway, when a few more dollars will carry out the proposed object successfully and triumphantly. I have undertaken to perform these services at the rate of twenty dollars a week and I will keep my word though my expenses have been hitherto beyond that amount. The first week costs me with travelling and Hotel expenses $35.-- my journey to Frederic costs $20.-- All I ask is that the Board keep their promise and as they have appropriated $250.-- for that purpose, I hope soon to receive the balance. The public will no doubt respond, and as to the $250.-- you have sufficient personal influence to collect this amount among yr friends. In the meantime, I will continue my duties and hope to receive from you a favorable reply. Believe me My devotion
Henry I. Hart, Esq.
Pres't, Board of Delegates