Priests went to war with armies as far back as ancient times. And this tradition has been a part of America's history from as early as the French and Indian War, when a young militia colonel named George Washington complained for "want of a chaplain."
General Washington and the Continental Army instituted a chaplain corps. during the American Revolution to help bolster troop morale and insure that the religious needs of the soldiers were met.
During the first few years of the war, the nature of the chaplaincy was a bit disorganized - as were quite a few facets of American military life. The first major step in establishing an organized chaplaincy came in 1776, when Congress approved one chaplain per regiment. General Washington ordered that the regimental commanders "procure Chaplains accordingly" and that the chaplains be "persons of good Characters and exemplary lives."
In 1776, Congress set the pay rate at "thirty-three Dollars and one third pr month." And in 1782, Congress passed a resolution that fixed chaplain pay to the rank of major.
Virtually all Revolutionary War chaplains were Protestant, reflecting the dominant nature of Protestantism in colonial America. There were two Roman Catholics in the Chaplain Corps. Over the years, the Chaplain Corps. has become increasingly diverse, reflecting the changing nature of America's population.
For more information on chaplains in the Revolutionary War, click here.
And...I am working on a novel about a Revolutionary War chaplain. It's only in the idea stage, and has been in the idea stage for a couple years now. Any creative help you'd like to provide would be welcome. :-)