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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Who Was Chaplain Sloan?

From my article of the 9th of November . . .

 "After he had satisfied himself, he asked me if I was not a chaplain. I replied that I was. 
"I thought so," said he. "Do you know Chaplain Sloan?"
I told him I did not. (I subsequently saw Mr. Sloan at Harrison's Landing.)
"Mr. Sloan," said he,"once preached for us at New Kent; we thought a great deal of him. My mother and myself and wife were members of his church. These young men said he were all students in the classical school he superintended at New Kent. He was a very valuable and useful man amongst us. At the commencement of the war he left us and went, as we understood, to Philadelphia. But we afterwards heard that he had become a chaplain in your army, and we all took a solemn vow that wherever we should meet him we would shoot him; and when we first saw you we supposed that you were Mr Sloan, and you may have observed the young men cocking their guns; this was when we took you for him. And now," said he, "I am very glad that you are not Mr. Sloan, for it would have troubled me all my life to have shot him." I told him my pleasure at not being Mr. Sloan was fully equal to his in not finding him."
So who was the mysterious chaplain named Sloan who elicited such emotions? A little digging has revealed some interesting details about the man who I discovered to be the first pastor of Olivet Presbyterian Church. The below account is that of Dr. S. P. Christian an Elder of the church.

"Rev. Isaac Oliver Sloan was called as the first pastor. He was a native of Philadelphia, but had preached at several points in Virginia before this time. Though his father and his family belonged to old Dr. Barnes' church, who was a radical anti-slavery man, they never sympathized with him on that subject. They took the Christian Observer, and were warm supporters of Dr. Converse, the editor of that paper. It was through his recommendation that he became the pastor of Olivet.
During the four years of his ministry the church, though it did not experience any marked seasons of revival, was in a healthy, couraging(??). The membership had increased from eight to thirty-five.
In addition to the regular Sunday school, there was a very interesting Bible class for adults, which met every Saturday evening. On Sunday afternoons there were services for colored people, and these meetings were also well attended. It might have been supposed that a race of the emotional nature they possessed, and accustomed as they often were in their worship to violent bodily-exercises, jumping and shouting, would not be satisfied with our quiet Presbyterian forms, but I remember that only on one occasion about the close of the service a blind boy came up to me and said, "Doctor, may we sing shouts?"
Mr. Sloan was a member of my family the whole of the four years that he was pastor at Olivet, and I never remember that there ever was a ripple of disagreement between us about the operations of the church, but when he saw that the Civil War was coming on he said that his father and mother were very old, and not liking to be separated from them for an indefinite time, he thought it best to return home. Just after the John Brown raid, which occurred just about a year before the war, one of his brothers wrote to him to know if he, like the rest of the Virginians, was scared to death. I told him to let his brother know that the Virginian he lived with slept with his outer door unlocked every night, and would like to know whether he did the same in Philadelphia."

-Minutes of East Hanover Presbytery
Presbyterian Church in the U.S. Presbytery of East Hanover
Volume 1931:Jan./June

Next- Rev. Isaac Oliver Sloan in War and Peace

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