A Civil War Biography

Horatio Stockton Howell

Howell was a Presbyterian minister from Philadelphia. Before the war he ran a private school for boys at Delaware Water Gap.

At Gettysburg on 1 July 1863, Howell, the 42 year old chaplain of the 90th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, along with several other First Corps chaplains, was in the hospital established at the Christ Lutheran Church on Chambersburg Street near the town square. Howell, often referred to as a "chaplain militant" because of his penchant for wearing military garb instead of the regulation black chaplain's uniform, was wearing the uniform of a Union captain complete with shoulder straps, a sash, and side arms. Chaplains were considered equivalent to captains in rank during the Civil War.

According to the testimony of Sergeant Archibald B. Snow of the 97th New York Volunteers, who had just had a wound dressed at the quickly established field hospital, followed Howell out the door of the church. As Confederate skirmishers pushed the Union troops back through the town, a Confederate soldier arrived at the foot of the church steps and called out for Howell to surrender. Instead of throwing up his hands Howell attempted to explain that he was a non-combatant and thus exempt from capture. The Confederate soldier, probably mistaking Howell for a line officer because of the uniform and straight dress sword he was wearing, fired killing Howell. A monument at the foot of the church steps was dedicated in 1889 to perpetuate the memory of the chaplain slain in battle. It was the first such battlefield monument ever placed.

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