It was Lutheran Pastor Peter Muhlenberg who left his Woodstock, VA church to lead the 8th Virginia regiment to war and, in the process, became a hero of America’s War of Independence.

It was Presbyterian Pastor James Caldwell who urged his men at the Battle of Springfield, New Jersey to use pages torn from Isaac Watts hymnals as wadding for their muskets, while yelling, “Give ‘em Watts boys, put Watts into ‘em!”

It was Lexington, Massachusetts Pastor Jonas Clark who helped to train and lead the men of his church and small town to become the famous Lexington Minutemen who stood against the British Redcoats in his very own churchyard at the Battle of Lexington, April 19, 1775.

It was Pastor John Treadwell of Lynn, Massachusetts who is said to have kept a loaded flintlock rifle in his pulpit. Every Sunday, it is said that he climbed into his pulpit with his Bible under one arm and his cartridge box under the other.

It was President of Princeton and Presbyterian Pastor John Witherspoon, who urged the men in Independence Hall, when they were wavering for fear, to sign the Declaration of Independence. Witherspoon was the only vocational preacher to sign the Declaration.

It was New Jersey wilderness Pastor John Rosbrough who, while leading his men at the Second Battle of Trenton, New Jersey, was bayonetted to death by the British and Hessians while trying to surrender.

Who were these men? They were America’s “patriot preachers” – some of the most outspoken proponents of truth and liberty in 18th century America. Convinced that the Bible impacted every area of life – including politics, these brave pastors stood in their pulpits each Sunday wearing their black robes, preaching from God’s Word about spiritual and civil liberty. Because of their willingness to preach the “whole counsel” of God, their congregations were well prepared when the inevitable clash with the British came. Hated by the British who called them the “Black Regiment,” these courageous men “laid it all on the altar” for freedom.

Though largely forgotten today, their willingness to lead the men of their congregations onto the battlefields of our War of Independence to defend truth and liberty is one of the most inspiring stories in American history. Without their bold stand and brave deeds, America may never have come to be.