On June 2, 1862, shortly after the 51st North Carolina organized, Reverend H. C. Brooks was appointed chaplain of the regiment. Brooks immediately fell ill. In fact, he might not have ever reported for duty. Listed as absent in every month of his assignment, Brooks finally resigned sometime before September 1, 1862. The Fifty-First was left without spiritual leadership, an integral component of any military unit.
Reverend Colin Shaw, a Presbyterian minister residing in Bladen County, was appointed chaplain of the 18th North Carolina in 1861. He served one year with the regiment before returning to his church. Several of the Fifty-First’s officers knew Reverend Shaw, and they decided they wanted the minister as their new chaplain. They signed the petition below to encourage Shaw to accept an appointment to the 51st North Carolina.
The appeal to Shaw worked. He reported for duty with the regiment on December 13, 1862, and was officially appointed chaplain of the Fifty-First on January 1, 1863. Shaw was regarded as “an ardent Confederate, a good Chaplain, and a brave and most excellent man.” He served with the regiment on October 1, 1863.
-Walter Clark, ed. Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War 1861-1865. Vol 4, 608 & 617.
-NC State Archives, Original Civil War Collection, Box 44, Folder 19